Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂
I’m always THRILLED when Nalini Singh releases a book. It doesn’t matter what she publishes, I will read it. I’m really excited to learn more about the Merchants in Last Guard.Last Guard by Nalini Singh
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #5
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night, Alpha Night, Last Guard
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 13 hours
Add It: Goodreads
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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 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.
Beyond its limited but well-maintained grounds, Vara was surrounded by smaller buildings of a similar vintage, and looked out over a mishmash of more ancient structures and rickety new buildings that appeared held together by not much more than hope and the odd nail.
Gleaming Psy skyscrapers rose in the distance in stark contrast.
Yet even that clinical intrusion into the heart of this ancient city hadn’t been able to tame the controlled disorder of Delhi. Her city had its own soul and wasn’t about to bow to the whims of any civilization.
Every now and then, she still spotted monkeys scrambling up into the fruit trees on the grounds, and the pigeons had no respect for any of the bird deterrents trialed by the maintenance staff.
Through it all, Vara stood, solid and enduring.
Her father had once considered bulldozing her and rebuilding out of steel and glass, then decided the mahal was an important symbol of their long-term power. “The Raos were here long before others who might think to defeat our hold on this city,” he’d said as they stood at Vara’s highest viewpoint, the rooftop garden hidden from below by the decorative crenellations. “And we’ll be here long after they’re dead and buried.”
It was silent and cool in her third-floor office, but she knew that should she step out onto the stone balcony, she’d be hit with a tumult of horns and cries and scorching heat—the monsoon winds hadn’t yet arrived, bringing with them a humidity that was a wet pressure on the skin.
Payal would then wait for the rains to come, wash away the muggy air.
Her office was situated at the front of Vara, only meters from the street. She could see motorcycles zipping through traffic with apparent insouciance, while multiple auto rickshaws stood lined up in front of Vara hoping for a passenger.
A Psy in San Francisco or Monaco might turn up their nose at that mode of transport, but Psy in Delhi knew that the small and nimble vehicles were far more adept at navigating the city’s heavy traffic than bigger town cars. The more intrepid drivers even dared take on Old Delhi’s narrow lanes—but it was far smarter to travel via motorcycle in those mixed pedestrian/vehicle zones.
The traffic chaos was an accident of history. Delhi had grown too fast at a time when it had more pressing issues to address, and now there was simply no room to expand the roading or underground rail. The rickshaws were here to stay.
Even Payal was known to hail one on occasion despite the fact she was a teleport-capable telekinetic. It helped her keep a finger on the pulse of the city. She’d seen too many powerful Psy fall because they had no idea what was happening beyond their insulated bubble.
Nikita Duncan was the perfect example—the ex-Councilor held considerable financial and political sway, but she’d lost her once-tight grip on her home base. The DarkRiver leopard pack had grown exponentially in power right under her nose. San Francisco would never again be Nikita’s city.
Payal kept an eye on multiple small groups like DarkRiver that wielded more power than they should—she watched and she learned. Always.
After spending several minutes focused on the patterns of movement out on the street, she glanced down at the signature at the bottom of the unexpected e-mail: Canto Mercant, Mercant Corp.
Talk about a small group that held an excessive amount of power. Though the rumored scion of the family was now one of the most famous faces in the world, the Mercants didn’t generally seek fame or overt political power. Rather, they were the primary shadow players in the PsyNet, with a network of spies so skilled they were said to have something on everyone.
Payal knew the latter to be an overstatement for the simple reason that they had nothing on her. The fact she was an anchor wasn’t any kind of a smoking gun or threat. No doubt she was on a list of As somewhere in the Ruling Coalition’s archives. But she didn’t exactly advertise her status. Not when the most well-known telekinetic anchor of recent years had ended up a serial killer.
So how had Canto Mercant worked out her root designation?
Anchor minds weren’t visibly different on the PsyNet, couldn’t be pinpointed that way. And because A was an “inert” designation during early childhood, when Psy were sorted into various designations for the necessary specialized training, it would’ve appeared nowhere on her early records.
In point of fact, all her public-facing records listed her as a Tk.
Canto Mercant shouldn’t have the data on her true status. She certainly hadn’t known the Mercants had an anchor in their midst. Not only an anchor but a hub, born to merge into the fabric of the PsyNet. Chances were Canto Mercant was a cardinal.
Non-cardinal hub-anchors were rare inside an already rare designation.
Setting aside her organizer on her desk, she used her intercom to contact her assistant: Ruhi, bring me our files on the Mercants.
From LAST GUARD published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Nalini Singh.
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