Last Guard – Review
By Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #5
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Source: Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Star Rating: 5 Stars
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to a world devastated by change in her award-winning Psy-Changeling Trinity series, where two people defined by their aloneness hold the fate of the Psy in their hands. . . .
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 for 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.
By now, I think everyone knows I live and die for Nalini Singh books. Honestly, she just keeps getting better and better. Payal and Canto are basically new characters in this series but man, are they fleshed out and so vibrant that they just jump off the page. Canto is the first disabled hero in this series and I felt that Nalini Singh did him justice as a hero. His wheelchair was simply a part of him. Payal, as the heroine, was just wow. She still had the trappings of Silence but it really to deal with her father and brother. Once she connected with Canto, and their past was revealed, we started to see the cracks in her shield and the loving heart that was hiding behind it.
The worlds Nalini created for this series are so beautifully detailed. The little threads that tie together this series, and even the original Psy-Changeling series, are just so masterfully woven throughout. I honestly believe that she the most skilled writer at worldbuilding that I’ve ever read. My sister and I, since the start of the Psy-Changeling Trinity series, kept waiting for more human/psy pairings and we were both a little surprised when Last Guard was revealed to have two psy main characters. Isn’t the PsyNet completely breaking with humans in it, we wondered? However, reading Last Guard, the need for a book about anchors, and especially these two anchors became so apparent. As anchors, Canto and Payal are just so woven into the Net that to truly understand what is going on in it, we needed to read characters like them. Just another sign of how amazingly thought out this entire series is.
As much as I love SnowDancer, DarkRiver, and the California setting, I love that Psy-Changeling Trinity is taking us around the world. Canto is stationed in Russia which means we get adorable StoneWater bears! And Payal is in India which is a great new location for the story. I was happy to visit the Mercant family too and see more of them.
What I loved most about this book was the connection between Canto and Payal. In the books without changelings and the mating bond, I love seeing the other bonds that are able to form. Canto and Payal are so shaped by their past that it makes sense that without their childhood ties, it would have been almost impossible to break down their shields to see the person beneath. But Canto and Payal did have childhood ties, albeit traumatic ones, and that really helped their adult relationship grow. In that way, this book reminded me of one of my absolute favorites, Heart of Obsidian, and Shards of Hope. With characters with such trauma and such a strong persona that they show the world, sometimes the only person to break through that is someone who them when they were young.
I finished Last Guard and immediately wanted the next book as well as reread the entire series. Nalini Singh brings back the familiarity of this world while keeping with an immense and complex story arc and introducing new and quickly beloved characters. There’s not many author who can create what Nalini Singh and every time I finish one of her books, I just feel blessed to have read it.