Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #5
Published by Berkley on 20th July 2021
Buy on Amazon
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.
The designation ‘A’—Nalini Singh’s most overlooked Psy—finally get their chance in the spotlight with ‘Last Guard’, as Singh turns the focus onto what the Anchors do and what afflicts them, starting off with Payal Rao and Canto Mercant’s story.
Both Payal and Canto aren’t familiar characters at all, but represent a step further into this massive world that Singh has built (and is burrowing into still) as they were held brutally together as children, then reunited by chance at the very beginning. As Anchor-psy, they help hold up their own feedback network helping all Psy to survive post-Silence, but Psy-Net is always doing funny things in a cyclical cause/effect when it comes to the very people holding it up just as the ’net sustains them. Payal/Canto cautiously wade into this complicated mess and find each other once again, all the while dealing with unknown shifts and unseen enemies that lurk in the darkest corners.
Psy-characters are always hard to read ‘around’, so to speak, given their hard, distant and emotionless surfaces that Singh exploits to the fullest, which means they aren’t also the most likeable sort of characters. If I was initially excited about the bond that Payal/Canto had as children, their first interaction left me more bewildered than excited as they ping their own hard exteriors off each other while discussing the situation surrounding the anchors.
‘Last Guard’ was unfortunately, a more or less lukewarm read that doesn’t count my favourites in this series. From a storytelling POV, it’s a solid offering, though somewhat drier than others, which made it harder to keep my nose in the pages despite Singh’s thorough and creative exploration of anchors. Point is, if you like the ‘technical’ aspects of the PsyNet—and it’s delving deep into the Psy-part of the universe here—, then this is the book to go for. What it isn’t however, is the more straight-up, earthy romance and pairings of the first ’series’ of the Psy-changeling universe that first enraptured me, and that’s really the wilder and more windblown aspect I find myself missing the further along we go.