Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Archangel's Blade, by Nalini Singh

Release date: September 6th 2011
Published by: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...

My thoughts:

I read Nalini Singh’s previous books in the Guild Hunter series last year, and I was fascinated by the creatures that were introduced in our world – angels, archangels and vampires living alongside humans. That – and Raphael’s characterization – were enough to make me fall on my knees for this series. But I was not happy when I saw that the fourth book, Archangel’s Blade, was going to be about Dmitri. I wanted so badly to know more about Raphael’s childhood, and Elena’s life before she met Raphael.

Archangel’s Blade deliciously surprised me. Dmitri’s personality and Honor’s trauma immediately pulled me into the book, and Nalini Singh, - as always – managed to throw a series of issues and villains at her main characters that, together, kept me hooked. I can’t honestly say how much I loved the romance – how the impossibility of it made it all that much more enjoyable. Dmitri was haunted, for a thousand years, by his wife’s death, and ever since, hasn’t been able to love and feel – it’s like he doesn’t even have a soul. And Honor, on the other hand, was haunted by two awful months of her life, in which she was kept in a basement, being abused, beaten, and hurt by a bunch of vampires.

And then you ask me, how one of the most dangerous, cruel, and sexy vampires of New York managed to fall in love with a broken hunter who, since they first met, was terrified by him? Hah, that’s the magic in Nalini Singh’s books. There’s a reason I love this series so much. The author can create a romance so complex and well-developed that, even with these weird circumstances, feels real at the end. Dmitri’s heart growing softer and softer throughout the chapters and Honor’s fear of everything with fangs being slowly replaced by acceptance over what happened to her can only lead to a 5-star book.

Really, I wanted to give this book 5 stars. But to say I enjoyed it as much as Raphael and Elena’s story would be make me a fat little liar. The ending was not so great. I felt like there should be something else, like the big fight at the end wasn’t all that good. To me, the resolution of Honor’s problem and Dmitri’s as well was too much of a coincidence, and it didn’t feel real enough. Honor didn’t bleed, Dmitri didn’t even sweat, and after finding out something pretty damn incredible – pardon my language – Dmitri acted like it didn’t surprise him much.

Overall, Archangel’s Blade was a really great book. But I think the series is losing its focus. The next book – or so I heard – is going to be about Jason, the black-winged angel. Seriously, who cares about him? I want more Elena and Raphael, I want to see what’s going to happen with Raphael’s mother, and how his change is going to affect his relationship with his consort. Jason just isn’t important to me, and to say that I’m going to take a long time to pick up his book is an understatement.

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