My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/reviews/RRs/Sep09RR/brandedbyfire.NS.html
A dominant leopard female of the DarkRiver Pack, Mercy Smith has to face the possibility that she might never mate. Though the human part of her might want to find a mate with every fiber of her being, her leopard might never be able to submit to a male possessing an equal or greater level of dominance than she. Caught between want and harsh reality and with hormones getting out of control, a run through the forest one night leads to the most unexpected passion.
Riley Kincaid, wolf Changeling, SnowDancer lieutenant, dominant male, and general stick-in-the-mud irritates Mercy to the core. Yet he also tempts her in ways she’s never before known. Passion wars with the need for control as Mercy fights acknowledging that a wolf may, in fact, be her mate. It’s not long before the two strong-willed lovers are swept into the mating dance, but rising threats from the newly militant Human Alliance threaten both their packs, bringing Riley and Mercy closer together. Will Mercy risk everything she holds dear to be with the wolf whose hold on her heart increases daily? Or will the danger surrounding the lovers tear them apart before they chance the impossible?
Nalini Singh cranks up the heat in what is perhaps one of the best stories so far in her phenomenal Psy-Changeling series. Branded by Fire is an erotic and exciting read that captivates from the very first page and continues to enchant long after the story ends.
Mercy has always been one of my favorite characters, but in Branded by Fire she sealed her position as my personal favorite heroine of Ms. Singh’s. She’s strong, both physically and mentally, cunning, kind, warm, and generous – everything a heroine should be without being impossibly perfect. Despite her reticence at falling in love with a wolf, Riley is exactly the right male for her. He’s more than Mercy’s equal in terms of strength, dominance, and pack position. He’s also incredibly giving, which is utterly endearing. His heart is scarred by the kidnapping and torture of his sister, Brenna (of Caressed by Ice). Her imprisonment left its mark on Riley, making him overprotective of those he cares about, which causes problems at times in his relationship with Mercy. I loved watching the two of them find their way in their relationship, each complimenting the other’s strengths and willing to call one another on their flaws. It should also be mentioned that, in being a perfectly-matched couple, Mercy and Riley burn up the page like no one’s business. Since they are Changelings, both Mercy and Riley are tactile beings, and Ms. Singh definitely makes the most of this in ways sure to make the reader shiver.
Branded by Fire is the eighth story (sixth full-length book) in the Psy-Changeling series. While Mercy and Riley’s romance stands on its own, when it comes to the complex world Ms. Singh has created and the impact events in this book have on the characters and storylines which run throughout the series, new readers might want to start with the first five full-length books (Slave to Sensation, Visions of Heat, Caressed by Ice, Mine to Possess, and Hostage to Pleasure) before enjoying Branded by Fire. I can promise they won’t regret it, as Ms. Singh never fails to pen a fascinating tale. For those who are already fans of the series, I am sure they will be delighted to see the characters from the previous books once again. One of the things I love best about this series is how close the packs are, and it was wonderful to revisit beloved characters. But be warned, Ms. Singh will also leave you wanting more characters’ book. For me personally, I finished Branded by Fire desperate for Sienna Lauren’s story.
One of my favorite books in an exquisite series, Branded by Fire should absolutely not be missed. Joyfully Recommended!