This is one of my favorites for the Psy/Changling series! I just posted it and will be sending it off tomorrow, but had to quickly scan through some of my favorite parts before wrapping it! You go Mr. Mud Stick!
Whew! Another smoking hot romance from Nalini Singh. In Branded by Fire we learn more about Mercy, the panther sentinel and Riley the wolf lieutenant have a love/hate relationship. They're working together in diplomacy but are oil and water. Of course all that arguing is really about hot chemistry. The book starts off hot and doesn't let up through the end. The arguing-leads-to-love premise is a bit done but Singh's execution is excellent and the hero and heroine are very charismatic and compelling.
In addition to the great romance and sexy story, Singh gently weaves the Psy/Changeling/Human Alliance narrative through the book without it overwhelming the romance. In her previous book, Hostage to Pleasure, the love story was completely overtaken by the plot. In this case the side stories and side action were minimal, consisting of a page here and there and the "mystery" was driven more by the characters than the other way around. We also got a few glimpses into the goings-on of some previous books' couples, a treat for dedicated readers.
Nice way to get things back on track.
The love story is quite good, the chemistry between Riley and Mercy is very hot. I do like very much the pack structure, the pack bonds are well portrayed also. "Skin privileges" is a very descriptive term for the moment when the characters accept one another. I get bogged down in the Psy politics, I don't find the Psy as interesting as the changelings. Overall, an excellent addition to the series.