Mind Games by Carolyn Crane is a fantastically original paranormal romance with a delicious sense of humor. Reminiscent of the comic book series the X-Men, Mind Games is the first book of a trilogy set in the slightly futuristic Midcity (Chicago to those of us who recognize the familiar landmarks). In Midcity, a new breed of criminal has arisen with formidable psychic powers, and the charismatic new police chief is trying to combat a sniper who has the city terrorized.
But heroine Justine starts out with problems of her own. She is a hypochondriac who lives in fear that a blood vessel will burst within her brain, killing her instantly. It is a rare medical condition responsible for the death of her mother, but there is no guarantee that Justine, who is in perfect health, will experience this condition. Even so, Justine has built her uncertainty over her future into an epic cloud of anxiety that now affects her everyday life.
The book opens very effectively with Justine in a vulnerable, relatable position. Which one of us hasn’t allowed our fears to control us at some point in our lives? She realizes early on that she needs a change and decides to apply for a mysterious new job. She meets her new employer, the alluringly handsome and enigmatic Packard, in a strange Mongolian restaurant where he seems to be the only customer.
He lays out his terms. He is a highly skilled telepath (on the side of the good guys) who can show her how to channel and release all her negative emotions, which he believes can be used as a psychic weapon against the bad telepaths. Initially skeptical, Justine demands a demonstration, and she becomes hooked upon the feelings of peace and well-being that result when she allows him to tap and remove her hypochondria. Soon she has joined his team of “Disillusionists,” people with neuroses that they are able to insert telepathically into the minds of evil-doers to confuse and discombobulate them.
This draws Justine into a romantic triangle with Packard and the alpha-male police chief Otto. Both men despise each other even as they vie for her favor. But the more she gets to know them, the more questions Justine has until she no longer knows which man she can trust. Under what past circumstances does Otto know Packard? And why does Packard never seem to leave that gloomy Mongolian restaurant? The love scenes in Mind Games are written at a very mild level of explicitness (including a mind-blowingly intense kiss between Justine and Packard), but the sexual chemistry between Justine and both men is sizzling! Fast-paced, funny, and original, Mind Games is a great start to a strong trilogy.
Type of Romance: Male-Female Romance
Title: Mind Games (Disillusionist series, book 1)
Author: Carolyn Crane
Publisher: Spectra (Random House)
Subgenre: Paranormal romance
Setting: an alternate world Chicago
Sex scenes: non-explicit
Viewpoint: First-person and present tense.
Note: I purchased this book with personal funds. I received no compensation for this review from the author or publisher. Look on Amazon.com for Mind Games