Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Last Guard by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #5, Psy-Changeling #20
Published by Berkley on July 20, 2021
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
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Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.
For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed "imperfect" by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel of the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an Anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.
To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful Anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet…or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both
Two powerful, damaged Psy and the others of their hidden psychic designation are holding the Psy net together by a thread. They have a connection that extends into the past and connects them even now, but is it enough when they are so damaged.
Last Guard is the fifth of the Psy-Changeling’s second season and twentieth of the overall Psy-Changeling series. Though paranormal romance, each book connects tightly with series arcs and character relationships so they work best read in order.
Last Guard introduces two relatively new Psy characters and a Psy designation that hasn’t been in the forefront before. Canto Mercant was a minor character in previous books with the rest of his family, but it was fabulous to get his backstory and have him sharing the stage with strong and sometimes ruthless and cold, Payal Rao, the CEO of her family’s business empire.
Payal and Canto share a history back to childhood that makes all the difference in the world when it is time for Canto to pull the Anchors together when their need for representation on the Ruling Coalition and their work in the Psy net has reached critical mass. There was suspense of how this pair would even have a relationship with all they had against them, but also how the mysterious Architect and those acting with her could be thwarted before they destroyed the Net and the ongoing work of all the major players in the Psy race keeping the Net from utterly unraveling and killing them all.
There were so many moving parts in this one and yet the pace remained steady and the development of all aspects of the book pitch perfect. Not one part of the book didn’t fail to captivate, but I confess to loving most all the shared time between Canto and Payal as he carefully brought her to life, showed her that she was valued as more than a money-making machine, and helped her heal from the abuse and damage her psychotic father and brother had done and were doing to her. Payal is fiercely strong- amazingly so- considering she has been abused and controlled all her life. Canto is possibly the only person who can get through to her where she hides behind high, thick walls of self-protection and her off the charts Telekinetic talent. He needed someone who could see past his physical challenges and the wheel chair while she needed someone who saw the wild broken girl inside and still loved her.
I do enjoy seeing the Ruling Coalition all working together and what Canto and the other A designation types brought to the table. The Architect is brilliant and insane and each installment brings things closer to a confrontation. The tension is taunt and each book leaves things on a high note while letting a few threads dangle enticingly for the next book. From world to characters to sexy, smart romances, and riveting suspense plots, there is so much to love about this series and I can heartily recommend it to paranormal romance fans.
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