Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Archangel's Blade

ARCHANGEL'S BLADE (Guild Hunter #4)
Nalini Singh
Paranormal Romance
352 pages
Berkley Sensation
Available September 6th
Received from publisher for review

Dmitri has been archangel Raphael's second for centuries and knows both the pleasures and the cruelties that accompany a nearly-immortal life. For years and years he's lived with the pain of his past and his Making, all the while indulging in the potent sensuality of his vampire nature and honing his unique ability to lure and entice women with a sexually intoxicating scent.

He's never allowed himself to feel anything other than physical pleasure with a woman, brutal memories keeping his interest in the opposite sex strictly superficial. So when Honor walks into his office on assignment from the Guild, he's prepared to simply seduce her as he has so many before her, then move on.

He quickly realizes however, that Honor is as damaged as he is, struggling to cope with her own nightmares at the hands of his kind, and he finds himself uncomfortably protective of her. Though she has an underlying fear of him, Honor accepts his help to hunt down those who did her harm, and the two of them together find themselves facing pasts they hoped never to confront again.

The world of archangels and vampires Ms. Singh has created has always been darkly romantic, tinged with sadness but also with hope as the strength of a bond between mortal and immortal warms the emotional freeze an extraordinarily long life has caused. Though we fully expect the continuation of this haunting and memorable darkness despite the switch in protagonists from the first three books, what we aren't necessarily prepared for is the visceral and powerful reaction we have to Dmitri and Honor's story. We enter into Archangel's Blade wondering how Ms. Singh is going to turn a man who had his throat slit by Elena in book one and liked it into a romantic hero we can fully support and care for, but true to style, she weaves a tale of melancholic beauty that shows us the remnants of humanity buried beneath the callousness and depravity of his vampirism.

Honor is a woman who has survived unfathomable abuse at the whims of the same breed of monster with whom she is forced to work when assigned a case with Dmitri, her mental and emotional scarring running far deeper than the surface marks on her body. Despite her fear, she holds her own against Dmitri's sexual taunts, her confidence at times understandably wavering but never fully abandoning her. As she gradually builds herself back up from her status as a victim, she simultaneously begins to chip away at Dmitri's impressive otherworldly shields. At first the savagery done to her and its lingering effects make us unsure of how things will go when paired with a vampire who has a penchant for pain with his pleasure, but Honor has an enviable strength of will that has us rooting for her happiness with Dmitri every step of the way.

Dmitri, though strikingly similar to the archangel to whom he has pledged his life and loyalty in his stunning and intimidating lethality, manages to inspire our affection on a more intense scale than we would have thought possible before reading. He doesn't necessarily change who he is to be with Honor, that inhuman indifference and seeming emotional vacancy still a large part of their relationship, but he does allow the sexual sensations he's thrived on for hundreds of years to seep below the skin in Honor's case, letting touches previously used only to satisfy desire evolve into touches that reflect a fundamental need for one person in particular. There's something exceedingly powerful about watching a man such as Dmitri show fleeting glimpses of vulnerability, his few quiet moments of genuine emotion enough to bring us to our knees as we are overwhelmed by the strength of feeling he must harbor for Honor in order to even temporarily shed his immortal skin.

The only mild complaint with this story is the revelation with regard to Dmitri and Honor's pasts in the concluding pages. It's hinted at throughout the book, but we secretly hope things might end up a little differently than where they appear to be heading. The revelation is a very nice and comforting idea, however, it seems (to me) to rob both Dmitri and Honor of the growth they fought for and earned as they each faced monstrous personal demons in order to be the person they wanted to be both for themselves and for each other. What happens provides them with a reason to easily accept their love for one another, giving them an excuse to more readily open their hearts to the other instead of letting them continue the epic battle and emotional struggle to create new lives where the stain of their pasts, though ever-present, fades in the face of their hope for the future. With that being said, Archangel's Blade is still an outstanding addition to the series, an emotional juggernaut that battles its way through the outer layers of our hearts and doesn't stop until it finds a home deep in the tender center.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Hmmm...I need to read this series. I've heard good thing about Singh. I'm not normally into angels, but I'm curious.

    When is cover critique returning?

  2. Though the end sounds like it might frustrate me a bit, I have to say that I'm loving the sound of this series! Lord knows you were stoked about said author at BEA, eh? ;)

    Brilliant review!

    ALSO, I second Alison's question. I want cover critiques again, s'il vous plait :)

  3. I know...Singh is utterly AMAZING. I FAIL for having not read her yet!!

  4. I really admire your ability to review books in a series! Adult urban fantasy isn't totally my thing right now (I burned out on it a few years ago), but I'll definitely be keeping this series in mind! :)

  5. Whaaaaaaat? She has a vampire series! How did I not know this? EPIC FAIL=me!

    Seriously.... A vampire who has a penchant for pain with his pleasure! Is this guy made for me or what?



  7. I soooo can't wait for this release. Jealous you got to read it.

    I'm excited too cos I get to meet her again for her Archangels Blade release in NZ. Twice in one year woop ;)

  8. I can't believe I still haven't read this series. I need to meet Dmitri. Fantastic review :)

  9. Wow, this was a great review and I can't wait to read ARCHANGEL'S BLADE. I've always liked Dmitri - Singh has hinted throughout the first three books that there was a lot more to him than he let people see. Your last paragraph has me thinking - was that a really nice way to say that the ending was a bit too tidy? :)

  10. Alison - Nalini is one of my very favorite authors, I adore both her series! Cover Critique is going to be gone for a while sadly, there just don't seem to be enough days in the week for all the reviews I have do, so it won't be back until October:(

    Melissa - I love Nalini bigtime, I may have tried to sit in her lap when I met her. Win. CC's will be back in October. I know, I suck.

    Ashley - EPIC FAIL! I hope you give her a try:)

    Lauren - Thank you! If you ever get back in the mood, Nalini's books are a great place to start:)

    Missie - This is part of her Guild Hunter series which is about archangels, but vampires are linked directly to the angels in her world, so it encompasses them as well. Books 1-3 focus on archangel Raphael and mortal Elena, and then this book switches to Dmitri and Honor. Dmitri's in all the other books though, as are other vampires:)

    Katie - I loved it:) Hope you do too!

    Tyraa - Lucky you! She's just adorable, it makes me love her books even more:)

    Nic - Dmitri was so much more than I thought he'd be. I wasn't sure when she announced his book if I'd be able to like him as a hero, but he blew me away:)

    Jennifer - There's definitely a lot more. I'm kind of in love with him now:) The revelation was a bit too convenient for me given the struggles they went through the entire book. Sweet, but both of them are fighters, and this gave them a reason not to fight as hard anymore. Still loved it overall though.

  11. OMG Jenny! I need Dmitri's book sooo bad. You have me drooling right now! Dmitri!! *swoon* Awesome review, Jenny! =D

  12. I haven't read this series yet, but I will be adding it to the TBR for sure :) I think this is the first time I've seen it...

  13. I've said this before but I really need to read this series. I loved your review and now wondering what big revelation at the end is.

  14. This definitely sounds like a series I need to check out! I think my sisters has read from this author before, and has enjoyed her. I'm going to see if she has any books! :) Thanks for sharing!

  15. Bailey - SO GOOD BAILEY!!!! I loved Dmitri something fierce in this one:)

    Jacinda - I hope you give it a try, Nalini pretty much rocks I think:)

    Jenny - You do! I like that she switched it up from Raphael and Elena in this book and gave us a little something different.

    Christy - You're welcome, I hope you give her a try!

  16. My goodness! This is another series I really got to dive into! I love the cover! Plus your review is stunning!

  17. Can you believe I haven't read this series *eek* this is EXACTLY why I am tackling my TBR pile!

  18. Hmm, never heard of this series before. But it does sound intriguing! Thanks for the review, Jenny :)

  19. I love Nalini's writing and the world that she creates. I've only read the first book and the awesome short story in "Must Love Hellhounds". I really need to catch up on this series! You reminded me of all the reasons why I love her series- great world and characters. The flaw you pointed out would irritate me too and it sounds a bit patronizing to the characters but I'll definitely read it anyway. Great review, Jenny!

  20. Savy - You definitely need to read these, I LOVE them:)

    Felicia - GET ON IT! Have you read any of her books?

    Hafsah - It's an adult PNR series, so if you're looking for a break from YA, I highly recommend trying it. First book is Angel's Blood.

    Rummanah - Me too, her worlds are amazing, both fantastic and believable at the same time which I love. The end bothered me a little, but it certainly wasn't a deal breaker because I loved it overall. I just wanted them to keep growing together as they had been instead of having their happiness handed to them on a platter.

  21. Oh even your complaint has me wanting to read it so I can find out about the redemption! Oh I'm so curious. I haven't read these yet, but guess what???? I won't have to start here. I have all the previous books (except this one) on the ol' tbr pile! I can't wait to dive in it! I also need this one to round out the collection! :)

  22. Never read any of Singhs books. This one sounds like I may like it. Your description of Honor caught my interest.

  23. *jumps up and down* I really want to give book 1 a go now

  24. Singh is a stunningly talented author and I'm always amazed how she weaves together the darkness and light into her stories. I can't wait to read this one!
    Mary @ BookSwarm

  25. I've never read her either. I need to fix that! Dmitri sounds so swoonworthy!

  26. Jenny!! Hi! First, I'm now sad that I have to miss Dayton. Makes me wish I would have convinced Hubby that I needed to stay until Friday. *big sigh* Damn you Southwest!

    Second, I seriously need to get my hands on this series. Any book that deserves a face pet deserves to be read, IMMEDIATELY! This one sounds really good. I'm going to try and pick up the first on Monday when I grab Bloodlines.