Published 2010 352 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
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 is the follow up to Angels’ Blood, the book that launched Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter urban fantasy romance series. Angels’ Blood introduced readers to a new fantasy world populated by vampires, angels and hunter-born vampire hunters. Archangel’s Kiss follows Elena and Raphael’s story, further continuing the unlikely romance that developed between the Archangel of New York and vampire hunter Elena. The continuation of the romance that started in Angels’ Blood means that readers new to this series would do best to read that book first before starting Archangel’s Kiss.
Archangel’s Kiss continues Elena and Raphael’s story from exactly where Angels’ Blood finished. Raphael had saved Elena’s life by turning her into an angel Made. She is the first Made angel in thousands of years but needs to gain strength and learn how to use her wings since in her current state she has less power and flying ability than a fledgling angel. The world of the angels is cruelly harsh and if she can’t learn to protect herself she won’t last too long in their world.
Raphael is an archangel. This makes him more powerful than most angels. He has had many years to get used to being in command over angels, vampires and mortals and to being unquestioningly obeyed. With Raphael so powerful and Elena weaker than a fledging angel child there is obviously a huge power imbalance in their relationship. As a Guild Hunter Elena is used to fighting her own battles, while Raphael is used to being in control – which gives plenty of material for romantic relationship development between the pair. As a result Archangel’s Kiss has a much stronger overall romance feel than Angels’ Blood, which combined romance with a sharper urban fantasy edge.
Nalini Singh is an experienced romance writer and she effortlessly turns Raphael from an inhumanly cold, hard character into a romance hero without him losing his edge. A backdrop of death threats against Elena, combined with a power play from an unknown angel who will stop at nothing to stir up trouble between the archangels, provide an exciting mystery counterpoint to the hot, sexy romance. Lijuan the oldest archangel in the world, who has a sick taste for death, runs an additional thread of horror through the story.
The Guild Hunter books have an amazing mythology. The author gives us angels who are anything but angelic. Not the servants of a benign (or even vengeful) God, these angels are a separate species that rule over the world. Monstrously inhuman by the very fact that they are not human, they have little concern for the affairs or feelings of mortals. They create vampires to be their servants and warriors. These vampires feed on blood but are not undead and don’t spontaneously combust in sunlight. Again this is very different to traditional vampire mythology. Archangel’s Kiss introduces reanimated corpses into the mix – perfectly rounding off the monster mixture.
In the years since Stephenie Meyer brought vampires to the mainstream the media keeps trying to predict new fantasy fiction trends. A couple of years ago it was zombies. Media commentators insisted that zombies were the hot new fiction trend that would push vampires back into their coffins. As it turned out, few people wanted zombies as paranormal romance material. (What were the media pundits thinking? Hello? Rotting corpses with an insatiable need for human flesh – how is this attractive?) Although it’s fair to say that zombies did hold their own in the apocalyptic fiction stakes but then again, when haven’t they?
This year (2010) is, according to the latest media reports, going to be the year where angels will take over from vampires as the romantic heroes and evil villains of fantasy fiction. With the release of the movie Legion and a whole host of angels cropping in TV and books it certainly seems like there will be more angel mythology around. Will they snatch the limelight from the vampires? Who can say?
Certainly books like Angels’ Blood and Archangel’s Kiss are bound to generate interest in angel mythology but there is more to the Guild Hunter series than just angels. With hunter-born vampire hunters and vampires, these books have something for everyone.
All-in-all Archangel’s Kiss has everything that urban fantasy romance fans could ask for – sexy thrills, compelling characters and an original mythology combined with more than a dash of horror. Paranormal romance doesn’t get better than this.
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