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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Archangel's Blade

Title: Archangel's Blade
Author: Nalini Singh
Page Count: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Synopsis:

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…
*****
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead. Ye be warned.

There are a few plot elements that usually turn me right off in a romance. The love triangle is probably the biggest one- the conflict just doesn't appeal to me and I'd rather read about two people really getting to know each other than read about one person agonizing over a choice that we as readers can see coming a mile away. Likewise, reincarnation is a touchy issue for me as well- are the characters falling for each other because they really want to, or are they just powerless pawns in some kind of cosmic game? Would they have wanted to be together if they weren't somehow already predestined to not want anyone else? When I heard this element was included in this story, it made me itchy. I completely trust this author to write an amazing story, though, so I went ahead and dove in.

I'm glad I did, because my fears were completely put to rest. Dmitri and Honor as a couple blend fantastically- the element of reincarnation only comes into play after many, many other things have happened, so both of them have already committed to living in the now and moving on past truly unspeakable things that have happened to them. They are survivors, and they are committed to happiness and to the future; they end up finding peace in a place they hadn't expected and that totally worked for me as a reader.

The unspeakable horrors are truly unspeakable. If you're sensitive about blood and guts in a book or about depictions of violence then you're going to want to proceed with caution here. I cried while reading this story and I am totally not ashamed to admit it. The writing was vivid and powerful, and the awful things that happened to Dmitri while he was a captive of Isis and Honor while she was imprisoned are very real. They have to be, as they're central to the story and what initially drew Honor and Dmitri together; each of them understands pain, and each of them understands loss.

I enjoyed the interplay between Raphael and Dmitri as well- we see that they're the closest thing either of them has (besides Elena and Honor respectively) to a friend and confidant, and that their loyalty is based on a shared history that very few people share. Raphael would spare Dmitri any further pain if he could, but he understands that Dmitri is the master of his own fate. Likewise, Dmitri's loyalty to Raphael is unshakable, and you're in some serious poop if you think he doesn't know everything that goes on. Now they have another shared connection, in that each of them finally understands what love is and how important it is to keep once you've found it.

If you're a newcomer to the Guild Hunter series, you probably don't want to start here with the series, even though this is a sort of stand alone book.  To get the full effect I still think you should read the first three books and you should probably have them all on hand, because once you start you will be sucked in.  I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series in the upcoming anthology Angels of Darkness.

Overall Grade: A+
 
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