Reviews

Last Guard, by Nalini Singh

loverofromance's review

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4.0

Last Guard is the fifth installment in the Psy Changeling Trinity series, and it continually baffles me how long of a series this is becoming especially if you combine all the books in this marvelous series together. I was actually wanting to enjoy this so much but unfortunately, it didn't quite make it to the rating that I was expecting. This story just didn't engage me immediately like I was expecting it to, and it took a while to really become invested in the story. I think I have tried to read this over the past couple of months, but finally pulled myself together to get it read. And I am so relieved that I was able to do that. Because while it starts slow, once you become invested in this pairing, you won't be able to put it down. This is the talent of this author, that I just wanted to see how these two would find their HEA and overcome the conflict that is facing their people.

Last Guard features our two main leads:

Canto Mercant-Head of the family, Spinal Injury, Cardinal Empath and Anchor

Payal Rao- Anchor, Designation A, Cardinal Telekinetic, CEO, Indian Descent

Last Guard features two characters that once knew each other as children, where they were tortured among the unwanted at the time, until they were rescued and they never saw each other until now when they are to work together in the search of solving the problems involving the psy net, and now the net is dying, and only if the anchors work together will they be able to save it. But Canto recognizes Payal for the girl he always loved and never stopped, but he also needs her to help save the net. Payal, the girl he once knew, is hidden behind her cool exterior, but he is going to take a lesson from the courting handbook of the bears, and court his girl no matter how long it takes. He is dedicated to digging deep and finding that sweet strong girl who loved fiercely. Payal is not the girl that Canto used to know. Her father and brother are brutal psychopaths, who only use her for their own means, and as a means of survival, she protects herself behind a shield of ice. She doesn't truly know Canto, but there is a hidden part of her that trusts him completely. And with each day, she feels her shields against him, softening and slowly trusting him and desiring full on "skin privileges" and more with Canto. But they have enemies, and the whole psy's survival depending on them. Will Canto and Payal find their way fully together and saving their people?

Last Guard was such a brilliant story and I was so much in love with this one here. But it took a while to get to the "love" part of the story. I do struggle with books where you want to love it, but can't quite get on board all the way through. However, despite the struggles I had initially, I just knew that I would eventually fall for this book, and man Singh really worked her magic in this book. I just couldn't get enough of Payal and Canto. They were utterly brilliant together, and one aspect I have truly adored about this author, but most especially in this series, is seeing characters fight for each other in such a equal way. I truly appreciate the way that she shows the hero AND the heroine fighting for each other in the relationship. In most romance, you will see more fight from the hero than the heroine, but in this one, even though the fight begins with the hero at the beginning of the story, this heroine fought for the hero in the latter half defended him, and protected him. And this is my true catnip in a romance and will win my heart every time. This book also contains many of the tropes I adore: friends to lovers, childhood sweethearts, second chance romance, forced proximity. The secondary characters in this one (most specifically the BEARS) were hilarious, and I just wanted more of them. They are the true delight from this "trinity" series that Singh has implemented. Loved seeing members of the Mercant family and even some delights from our beloved favorite psy "Kaleb Krychek". I am very curious about what Nalini Singh has planned for the series next because I need more but she is an author worth waiting on.

Overall I found Last Guard to be a story that combines the beauty of two lost souls finding each other once again, to the intensity of the battle in the fighting for your people, a sweet yet sturdy courtship that wins your heart with each step in the dance, a romance that will strike a transcendent chord in your soul and leave you with a smile on your face.

crownoflaurel's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

readingtheend's review

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4.0

oh good oh great there's a whole new kind of Psy that I never knew anything about before and they have to TEAM UP OR ALL IS DOOM. love the thing where the central couple is reunited after many traumatic years apart. A+

lorlaiin's review

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4.0

Me ha gustado bastante, como todos los libros que escribe Nalini.
Lo mejor ha sido que se han recuperado a personajes de otros libros y hemos podido saber cómo les va, aunque se me hizo escaso.
Lo que menos me ha gustado ha sido la rápida resolución de todo, creo que el final es apresurado y deja muchas cosas que no están del todo aclaradas. También he echado de menos el encuentro entre la madre de Canto y Payal y me hubiese gustado ver el de Canto con Kaleb.

noplotjustvibes's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

ozeankind's review

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5.0

Okay, so, I guess this means I officially finished the 20th book in this series. And man, I love how the series has developed over the years. From basically straight up straight porn with brilliant world building to brilliant world building with porn. It's the first book to feature a disabled love interest and I was constantly holding my breath for sth problematic (bc I mean, it's a physically disabled character whose love interest is a telekinetic and boy was I afraid of a 'her love literally makes me walk') and it never came? It actually acknowledged the eugenic in concept of perfection?? Wow. Also also further established the first gay couple, with names, screen time, flirting and pining? Damn Ms Singh, way to get along with time!
And I didn't even talk about the story?? I just love this series and there are so many reasons I re-read multiple books of it embarrassingly often.

tanyad74's review

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4.0

Last Guard completely focuses on the Psy and their struggle to maintain the PsyNet. It is the importance of the Anchors and their part in holding the PsyNet together that we explore. This designation has not had a lot of page time so they are brought to the forefront just in time. Cantos Merchant has been trying to pull together a group of Anchors to get more focus on them and what their part is and how they can help Caleb and the Arrows keep the PsyNet from falling apart.

I am going to go insane trying to figure out who the Architect is and just who/what these "children" of hers are. Besides the romance, the story continues with the struggle on the PsyNet with just little tidbits of how the Architect is orchestrating it. She seems to think that all is going well with her plan while each of the attempts on the PsyNet gets foiled. That is what confuses me. If those attacks were hers, you would think she would be more upset when the Trinity figures out a way to plug the holes. I can't wait to find out more about this character and how her plan progresses.

Canto and Payal share a similar experience as children and developed a bond. Then they were separated. Canto spent many years trying to find Payal, not even knowing her name. His searches have always failed, which is a hard thing to accept for a Mercant. But then he comes face to face with Payal and they are both taken back to their time in a special school. Cantos was rescued by his Mercant family, while Payal grew up getting progressively more emotionless and ruthless. The risks of Payal taking down her shields is life threatening as that is what keeps her safe from her father and brother. Canto and Payal's relationship faces many hurdles until they can finally, safely be together. Most of the issues are from Payal's side as she deals with her part in rescuing the PsyNet, her dependency on what she needs from her father, a psychotic brother, keeping her sister safe and then her emerging emotions. Canto is so patient and is determined to be with her every step of the way to save herself.

I enjoyed the couple's relationship. The flashbacks to when they were young helps solidify how they needed to depend on each other. I was somewhat hesitant about how Payal was handling all the things in her life. Being robotic is certainly one way, but I didn't really understand why she did not investigate some things in her life further. Mainly that thing Payal's father was holding over her head. Knowing her family, she should not have trusted in anything either her father or brother told her.

Last Guard was another great installment in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series and with all of the open plots, will keep me anxious for the next book.

jennkei's review

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4.0

3.5 stars. Quite liked it, antagonist was kind eh and building up though.

nelsonseye's review against another edition

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4.0

Last Guard had many sweet, sad, stressful, and funny moments throughout. The final resolution turned out to be rather quick/easy, but the journey was enjoyable. Payal and Canto were sympathetic leads — Singh protagonists usually are — and I liked the supporting cast as well.

tita_noir's review against another edition

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4.0

Another quick enjoyable installment in the Psy/Changeling world.

It features Canto and Payal two Psy that we really haven't met before. I think there may have been mention of Canto since he is Silver Mercant's cousin. But this is our first meeting with Payal.

Just like in previous books where we explore a never before explored psy desgination (we had the 'E' with Sasha, the 'F' with Faith, the 'M' with Ashaya, the 'J' with Sophia and the 'X' with Sienna) this one gives us a big look at the 'A's -- anchors. We heard about anchors in previous books and learned about them in more detail in Adria and Riaz's book [b:Tangle of Need|12059093|Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling, #11)|Nalini Singh|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1318922090l/12059093._SY75_.jpg|17026278]. But this is the first one where we really see from their perspective what an anchor does. And honestly it makes sense that a group of Psy who are literal anchors in the PsyNet would have been affected most closely by the rot in the net. Because of this many of the A-psy are born with or develop physical or neural defects.

Canto and Payal are two of these kids. Canto is wheelchair bound because of a disease that affects his spine and Payal had developed brain tumors as a child that were kept under control with medication. Because of these imperfection the two youngsters were placed in an institute with sadistic teachers and pretty left to die by their respective families.

But Canto's mother is a Mercant. Because of the terns of the birth contract, his father got total custody of Canto and he is the one that when he saw Canto's physical disability decided to hide him away and treat him as dead, But if we have learned nothing else, we have learned that the Mercants are all about family. They discovered where Canto was and rescued him and rained down vengeance on his father.

But Payal was not so lucky. Her family is a nest of vipers and the only reason she survived was because the Mercant's destroyed the school and her father discovered she was useful after all.

The two had bonded as children but lost touch after Canto was taken home by the Mercant family. And while Canto was secure on the loving bosom of his family and became and integral part of the Mercant information network and having been in close proximity to an E-psy growing up so he is very well adjusted, Payal had to become a ruthless, cold creature in order to survive her family and rise to the top to become the CEO of her family's far flung business ventures and her father's heir.

They become reunited when Canto decides to create a union of the A-Psys and decides that the A-Psy should run with the big dogs (namely Kaleb, the Arrows, Nikita, and Ivy Jane) as part of the ruling coalition to make decisions for the PsyNet.

Like many of the books there are several thing going on here:

First, there is the romance of Canto and Payal. It is pretty low conflict, all things considered. When they meet up again, they recognize each other and their remembered bond as kids. Canto falls quickly and is quite sprung. Payal is a little more cautious and measured and it makes sense because her family is awful and she is constantly on guard for a knife in her back. She has a hard time letting go and trusting. I liked the characterization for both of them -- Canto was grumpy but warm and confident in his family and his connections. And his physical limitations don't at all impact the force of his personality, sex appeal or power. Payal was a blunt object and I loved her for it. She doesn't do tact and it is fun to read how she interacts with Kaleb and Nikita.

Second, is the overall story with the continuing issues with how to fix the Psynet, the Scarabs and the Architect.

And third is Payal's family situation and her health situation. She needs meds to control her brain tumors and her father keeps the medicine strictly controlled as a way of keeping her under his thumb. Without the meds she will die. And she has never been able to reverse engineer it. Singh likes to pepper her stories with these situations where one of our MCs is living with a time-bomb death sentence of some sort until of course we get an 11th hour miracle that saves them.

I think Payal's side story with her family is where most of the drama is and propels most of the plot and takes the place of the romantic conflict. As a plot propeller, it is good stuff.

The Psynet stuff is ongoing and is still a one step forward-three steps back deal. No real resolution in sight, onlyband-aids. But the ruling council scenes with the fresh blood of Payal and Canto are quite entertaining. And I also love that we got some good face time with Kaleb who recognized a kindred spirit with Payal and what sort of childhood she endured with a sadistic parent.

And of course we get to spend time with the Mercants and learn more about their family and TEH Bears!! I love that Canto lives on the outskirt of Bear country and they have adopted him so he gets visitors all the time, they are forever dropping in and he even keeps snacks on hand for the cubs.

My biggest criticism is that I felt the resolution with Payal's family came rather quickly and was over rather abruptly. Given how important that aspect was to the plot, it was not satisfying enough. I needed a more involved resolution.

And the Architect. I hate this villain. So far the biggest antagonists have been pretty well done: Serial Killer Enrique Santano, The Council, The entire concept of Silence itself as a big enemy to the PsyNet, Pure Psy, even just one off opportunists who are trying to take advantage of a power vacuum. But The Architect is just a evil mustache twirler whose motivations feel rather cartoonish. She is like a rather watered down, pale version of Lijuan from Singh's Archangel series. Except Lijuan's megalomania makes sense since she is a several thousand year old Archangel. The Architect is really rather uninspired. Although I will say I am curious to see how what she did in the final chapter affects everyone.