Branded by Fire - Nalini Singh Great story with two dominant personalities vying for the lead. Mercy is a hellcat (aren't puns punderful?), and it's fun to watch her sass out at Riley. The development of their feelings for each other revealed a lot about their respective alpha natures as each of them struggled in his/her own way with the burning attraction for the other. Mercy and her leopard kept wanting to assert their power, while Riley and his wolf continuously had to rein in their instinct for total dominance. I like that Mercy met her match in Riley, who wouldn't let her ride roughshod over him, for which she respected him all the more, and, in turn, I like that Riley learned to treat Mercy with the perfect blend of dominance and flexibility so that he wouldn't lose her, which would have happened if he and his wolf had smothered her with his protectiveness, etc.

Also, as for the backstory, once again, Nalini Singh includes the ideal amount of intrigue and continuing plot with glimpses of the Human Alliance's schemes, Psy Council politics, the development of the DarkMind, the Ghost, etc. Unlike some authors (*coughs "JRW and her pages and pages of Mr. X this and Mr. J that lesser plot" coughs*), Nalini Singh only includes a page or two at most at a time when she breaks into the main plot with these subplots/overarching ideas, which is just the right amount to keep me engaged in these subplots but not distracted from the main story and romance.

Overall, a great story. Four plus stars.