Series: Guild Hunter Series, Book 2
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For more information please visit Nalini Singh's website.
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find that she has become an angel-and that her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, likes having her under his control. But almost immediately, Raphael must ready Elena for a flight to Beijing, to attend a ball thrown by the archangel Lijuan. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan's power lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena...
Archangel's Kiss, the second novel in Nalini Singh's wonderfully addictive Guild Hunter Series, is yet another masterpiece showing exactly why she's a bestselling author. Once again we are pulled into the world of Elena Deveraux and archangel Raphael as they try to find the newest abomination among angel kind. Filled with tantalizing romance and a gripping mystery, this novel not only compliments its predecessor, but far surpasses it!
The characterization despite us having been previously introduced to most of those present in this novel, is beyond repute. We begin to follow Elena as she learns to harness her new abilities as an angel. Despite being a new Made immortal she is still as helpless as a human, a weakness in Raphael's armor to be exploited. And while we know Elena, she is not the same character she was in the previous book. Her inner strength is still there, but she must learn to depend on those around her as they prepare her to enter into the angelic spotlight where any show of weakness is without a doubt her death sentence. There's definitely more of a vulnerability to her both emotionally and in regards to her place within her new world, both things that I rather liked seeing explored. It served to make her more human even as she is being dehumanized. Raphael, likewise, is still evolving in more ways then one. While we still recognize him as the strong alpha male that he is, the ever growing tenderness in him towards Elena is touching as is his need to protect her from even his Seven. She is his weakness and only vulnerability, but she is also his greatest strength giving him emotion to temper his reason. Thus, making him a bit more human and helping to ease him back from the cusp of evil. The larger addition of the Seven in this novel, however, is what really won me. Getting to know this diverse grouping of trusted warriors added a dash of color as they taunt and train Elena to be a warrior in the presence of creatures she would normally fall victim to. While none of the Seven would out-and-out harm her at this point, they know her for the weakness she represents. However, slowly they begin to warm to the Hunter, some easier then others, and see in her that humanity and strength which draws Raphael.
The romance between Elena and Raphael in this novel is far more dramatic and tantalizing as well. The depth of the emotions are far more developed and enthralling proving that this is one relationship that will sustain the test of time. While most authors find the need to rip and rend a relationship by this point to keep it alive or add a triangle, Singh manages to keep this bond fresh and endearing without altering the dynamic. Instead, whatever vulnerabilities exist within the relationship are balanced by the partner, the flaws or insecurities eased and erased. There is a sense of true partnership between the two that is perfectly described, the bond and emotions that overwhelm them translating flawlessly to the reader. Often times this leads to surprisingly touching moments of tenderness that are at odds with the cut throat world of both the Guild Hunter and the Archangel.
Aside from the development of the characters, I feel I should also mention the depth of detail Singh goes into painting them for the reader. From the descriptions of feather patterns on the various angels wings to the incredible beauty of the characters eyes, they are drawn for the reader with artistic clarity making them pop into the world in unabashed glory. Yet, despite the volume of descriptions these details never seem extraneous or superfluous and serve only to flesh the characters out more.
Singh's world building, once again, is in a word sublime. The lushly detailed descriptions of the Refuge, an angel haven unknown to the world, paints the scene vividly in the reader's mind. There's a wonderful atmosphere of tranquility about the place as well as a melding of nature and technology living harmoniously as one. The building of the angelic way of life within this retreat from the world of man makes it feel at once quaint yet luxurious, a meeting of old world and new world aspects which reflects the angels themselves perfectly. In effect, timeless. And yet, that atmosphere is quickly shattered by the brutality of an angel seeking to ascend to take Uram's place within the Cadre. The moments of tense horror and grief are nicely built, slithering into the warmth of a scene effortlessly, changing and manipulating it into something vile.
The action of the novel is once again fast paced with the small area of the Refuge being a perfect backdrop. The threat to Elena's life adds a sense of suspense and drama that keeps the reader hooked wanting to know who is behind the threats and atrocities committed within the serene setting. The macabre presents sent to her by the archangel Lijuan also add their own horrific flair pushing the story in it's own more private direction. This use of Elena's bloody and heartbreaking past brings with it a sense of emotional action as she comes to grips with what happened in her childhood all those years ago.
While there is so much about this novel that I would love to address I think it would be a little repetitive at this point. Let it suffice to say that this is a wonderfully written, fast paced, action packed thrill ride that will have you begging for the release of Archangel's Consort in 2011. I highly recommend this series to any fan of paranormal romance or has an affinity for angels or vampires. This unique world will leave you addicted and hungering for more!
My Rating 5 out of 5 Scars
Advisory: Some sexual content.