Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel Raphael, is used to being in control—even when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority…
They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena…
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Cover Thoughts: My cover love for ARCHANGEL'S KISS is positively off the charts! Other then the major spoiler, I completely heart this cover and have wasted countless minutes staring at it.
Single Title/Series: ARCHANGEL'S KISS is book TWO in Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter Series and I strongly suggest that you read this series in order starting with book one, ANGELS' BLOOD.
Why I Read It: This series, hell this author, has continually blown me out of the water with each book she pens. I'm just in complete and utter awe of her. If you haven't read Nalini Singh yet, what the HELL are you waiting for???? Oh yeah, and I bought this book for my own reading pleasure.
ARCHANGEL'S KISS picks up three days after ANGELS' BLOOD left off. Elena, awakening from a year long coma after nearly dying in an archangel fight to the death, has now become an immortal angel. Kissed with ambrosia, an angel chemical that legend said is only produced when an angel is in love, has turned her into her new angelic form and also leaves little doubt to her archangel's - Raphael's - feelings. Unfortunately, when one of the most power archangels has created you, he also claims you as his eternal possession which grates a bit on Elena's fierce independence. In addition, as the first angel-Made in recorded history, Elena garners both fascination and hatred from the angelic population with neither boding well for Elena's overall survival in this new, cut-throat world.
Comparatively, ARCHANGEL'S KISS has more of fantasy feel than ANGELS' BLOOD in the sense that there was little to no real human involvement. Instead, the reader is immersed deep into the mysterious angel world with eighty-five percent of the novel taking place at The Refuge - an angel stronghold guarding the most precious of angelkind: Their young. High up in an undisclosed mountain range, Elena must learn what is to be an angel both mentally and physically. There's also a lot of emphasis and word time dedicated to Elena's new and beautiful wings. After being human in ANGELS' BLOOD, it's a bit difficult to picture Elena with wings but the constant reminder helps the reader to mentally picture a new Elena, wings and all.
As mentioned above, Elena's incredible uniqueness as the first Made angel has garnered a lot of unwanted attention especially from a very dangerous and very ancient archangel. Lijuan holds the territory of China with her perching almost exclusively at the Forbidden City. In her extremely ancient age, little fascinates Lijuan making Elena a target of deadly interest. Bent on her own amusement, Lijuan invites Raphael and Elena to a ball to be held in honor of Elena's incredible creation along with the unmentioned but expected addition of deadly games. This is, of course, all created with the intent of testing Elena and her strange bond with Raphael. Normally Raphael would have rejected the offer but because Lijuan has evolved in the most gruesome of ways, the Cadre of Ten - the archangels - are curious and they must go to this farce of a ball to discover the extent of Lijuan's deadly extracurricular activities. The fate of mankind and angelkind alike might very well depend on it. With Elena being practically an infant physically wise, she's in great peril as well is Raphael for his unbending love for her has now become his greatest weakness.
Having only two months to learn her new body and how to fly, ARCHANGEL'S KISS jumps right into Elena's angel training as well as her deepening relationship with Raphael. Sexual tension, as ever, is still ramped to a hot and pulsating degree making every touch, every wing stroked against wing, electric. Theirs is a fierce bond between two warriors who are both straining for dominance. While it takes time for Elena to recognize that she's not Raphael's equal in age or strength, she fights to be his equal in their love for each other. Raphael is a being that could easily overpower any one's character - molding and shaping the other until their essence is lost in his magnetism and Elena knows this, feels his powerful will dominating her thoughts until all that's left is her desire to please him. But this is not something either of them wants. Elena vows to Raphael time and again that she'd rather die as Elena then as her shadow and no matter how much Raphael wants Elena to obey him, his heart soars at her fierceness to maintain who she ultimately is at heart. He can only have respect for that and while in the beginning he rebelled greatly against this facet of Elena's personality, Raphael learns boundaries and eventually he learns to trust that she will call him when he's needed.
In addition to Elena's and Raphael's story, there's the full introduction of Raphael's Seven: A select group of angels and vampires that are completely loyal to Raphael. These seven men are incredibly fascinating and each face-off with Elena at some point in the novel, testing her boundaries and really just trying to understand what Raphael sees in her. The Seven are sworn to protect Raphael from both seen and unseen dangers and Elena is high on their list of threats. She's now a profound weakness to their master and even if they die as punishment for killing her, in the eyes of the Seven she'd still be dead.
Here's a quick peek at the Seven: Galen, an angel who probably has the most deadly intent of ending Elena's life. He's lethal with a blade and completely uncompromising. Aodhan, an angel of pure undiluted white who cringes at any touch thus igniting the reader's curiosity as to why he abhors any physical contact. Venom, a deadly vampire who is named appropriately. Made by Neha, Archangel and Queen of Snakes, and Poisons, Venom is a snake in every sense of the word. Dimitri, an ancient vampire with a lusciously sensual scent that arouses Elena very much against her will. As Hunter-born, Elena has an acute sense of smell that surpasses any normal human and apparently carried over to her angelic form thus making Dimitri's scent have a profound effect on her body and therefore resulting in her acute dislike of him. Illium, aka Bluebell, is an angel with striking blue wings and hair with an even more striking body. It's apparent to readers that he's falling in love with Elena which puts his life in grave peril of Raphael's wrath. Lucky for Illium, he's Elena's favorite. Naasir, a member of the Seven that was very briefly mentioned and still very much unknown. Lastly is Jason, an angel spymaster who's wings blend with any shadow and a face that's a tattooed landscape of his ancestors history.
Another briefly mentioned aspect of ANGELS' BLOOD that is fleshed out more thoroughly in ARCHANGEL'S KISS is Elena's past and the gruesome deaths of her two sisters along with the eventual suicide of her mother. With her recent transformation, its possible that previously dark and purposefully forgotten areas of Elena's mind have been jarred awake thus plaguing Elena with dreams soaked in blood. It's also apparent that Lijuan has a deadly intention of using Elena's crippling past against her at the so-called ball. Being further enlightened of Elena's past was very interesting and lends a lot to the development of her character and her unbelievable strength. Elena has looked into the eyes of a mad vampire who destroyed her family and yet she'll not let him take over her soul. Instead, his unwanted presence in her mind only causes her to fight that much harder to survive.
Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter Series is a series that I will be returning to time and again. Its a series where you can raise your expectations high and have them surpassed by this author's incredible imagination.
It's my guess that Singh isn't done with Raphael and Elena and the possibility of her dedicating another Guild Hunter book exclusively to them wouldn't be surprising. There are still areas of their relationship that have yet to be seen and secrets that must still be revealed. Beyond Raphael and Elena, the Seven - the vampires and angels that serve Raphael - have garnered immense interest and I for one am dying to see some of this arrogant lot get smacked around by their eventual match. Sadly for others I can only hope that they are able to find some measure of happiness. Their stories are steeped in such dreaded mystery and are so incredibly heartbreaking that they could very well be simply beyond repair.
Truly, for all you paranormal/urban fantasy lovers out there, the Guild Hunter Series is not one you should miss and if you have these books in your TBR, you gotta move 'em up to the tippy-top!
The Book Lover Girl: B-
Dear Author: A-
The Book Lush
That's Quenn Bitch to You: A
Touch the Night
Babbling About Books, and More! A
Lurv a la Mode: Four Scoops