Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Ms. Singh has created an incredible, yet dark world here with the Guild Hunters. There is a mix of the sublimely beautiful and awe-inspiring and the deeply chilling and sometimes revolting. Although I prefer the traditional biblical angelic storylines, she has taken most of what I find alluring about angels and paired it with a storyline that features a race of angels who are sensual, primal, dark, and dangerous.
Archangel's Kiss is definitely urban fantasy romance on the dark edge. Singh doesn't shy away from showing the savage acts of cruelty (even more disturbing by the casual manner in which they are committed) by these angels. I have to give it to her for that, because they are definitely not human by any stretch, and sometimes you read these PNR/UF books with paranormal creatures who are only paranormal on the surface, but all too human underneath. Not the case here, and anytime you think different, their ageless view of life, and the fact that those endless eons, and their unfathomable power gives them a view of right and wrong that feels decidedly amoral from a human viewpoint. Once again, I am put in the shoes of Elena, this time as a fledgling angel who is in over her head, when she used to be considered a very powerful human at one time. That is another level of authenticity of the world-building that captivated me. Singh is a master at painting the scenery with a careful choice of words that plants me right into a vivid, high definition landscape. I feel as though I am watching an awesome fantasy movie on the big screen with visions of incredible beauty paired with moments of chilling violence, and books that are written to stimulate my imagination to this degree always impress me.
Elena's character has a fortitude and a determination that makes for a satisfying heroine. Raphael is the combination of my favorite hero traits--possessive, dangerous, ruthless, and devoted--added to an allure of the otherworldly, unfathomably powerful that takes him over the top in the best ways. And yes, with wings, hard to resist. I can't do it, in fact. Throwing in the fact that he is the epitome of masculine beauty, he is the hero of my darkest dreams. Together, they are magic.
And yet, I found that I didn't get quite as enthralled with their romance as I was in the first book. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps there was too much going on, with the storyline about who was mutilating and harming angels and vampires, the threat of the archangel Lijuan, who has become frighteningly far from natural in her angelic evolution, and Elena's unresolved issues of her past. Don't get me wrong. I did enjoy the romance. How could I not. Just not to the degree that I expected, based on the first book. I found that the angelic world-building and the fascinating and intriguing cast of characters almost overshadowed that for me. I felt as though I hadn't attained much more in their relationship progression from the first book. Yes, I do know that Raphael loves Elena, and that he is violently possessive over her. That she gives him a human capacity for feeling he thought lost. That he'd give her the world. And I know that Elena loves Raphael more than she feels is safe, and that she worries about losing herself. I suppose I can see that she has made progress in the trust front, so that is good. And yet...I don't know, I guess I want more. Good news, there is another book with their story, so I have a feeling I will get what I want in Archangel's Consort.
Perhaps this would have been a five star book if I hadn't been so blown away by Angels' Blood. It makes me feel guilty not to give it five stars, but something in me can't be satisfied enough to give it that highest rating. However, it's definitely 4.5 stars. I can't give it any less. I'm enthralled by this world, and that's a very good sign. Nothing less than I would expect from a wordsmith like Nalini Singh.
My casting choices:
David Gandy as Raphael
Emilia Clarke as Elena Deveraux
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