I’ve been listening to Nalini Singh’s “Psy-Changeling” series on audio; I didn’t get into them in print, but the audiobooks are entertaining and the narrator really brings out the sensuality of the stories.
But I’m noticing that the attitudes towards sexuality are kind of… confusing and dated. (The first book was published in 2006.) So far, 3 novels and a novella in, the series fits in very much with a post I wrote a while back at Karen Knows Best, about paranormal heroines and their inability to get some until they’re mated.
For those who don’t know this series, it takes place in an alternate universe in which there are three races: human, Changelings, and Psy. The Changelings are animal shifters; the Psy have psychic powers. They’re also trained from childhood to repress all emotion.
The first two books in the series have Psy heroines, and it makes sense in context for them to be sexually unawakened. But the first novella and third book have Changeling heroines, and that’s where I’m starting to find it sticky. Changelings in general are extremely physical beings — this is part of what creates the tension when they mate with Psy — and young changeling women are described as being very sexual. But our first Changeling heroine very conveniently found her mate when she was 15 and so hasn’t had any sex at all while he’s been waiting for her to mature.
And our second… she obviously has some kind of sexual past, but she’s judgey about other Changeling women — one of whom she thinks is crossing the line from sexual to “slutty” — and her brothers are very stereotypical about trying to keep men away from her. How does this fit in with the Changeling mythology that was created? The leaking in of our own cultural double standards into a fantasy world disappoints me.