Archangels’ Kiss by Nalini Singh: Review

Format: Paperback, 323 pagesPublished February 2, 2010 by Berkley ISBN:  0425233367 (ISBN13: 9780425233368)Edition language: EnglishURL: Guild Hunter #2Literary awards: DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) for Best Best Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy (2011)
Format: Paperback, 323 pages
Published February 2, 2010 by Berkley
ISBN: 0425233367 (ISBN13: 9780425233368)
Edition language: English
Series: Guild Hunter #2
Literary awards: DABWAHA (Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hella Authors) for Best Best Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy (2011)

Goodreads               Nalini Singh’s Goodreads page

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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…

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:  Yet another re-read for me and man was this one just as good the second time around as it was the first time!  At the end of book one, Angels’ Blood, Elena and Raphael are both battered and broken following their showdown with the bat-sh*t crazy archangel, Uram.

Archangels’ Kiss begins one year after the fateful battle above New York.  Elena has been in a coma for the entire year; as far as anyone, including Sara and the Guild know, Elena is dead and; Raphael has remained by her side willing her to come back to him.  Not surprisingly, when she does wake, Elena has a few questions; topping the list:

*Where is she? (The Refuge; a place no mortal has ever been!)

*How did she and Raphael survive the fall from the sky? (very carefully)

*How long has she been asleep? (one year; didn’t you read the above paragraph?)

*Why in Hell does she now have wings? (Apparently a long-held myth came true and in a moment of pure love, Raphael not only saved Elena’s life but made her an angel.)

Elena doesn’t have long to ponder these heavy questions and even heavier answers before the proverbial crap hits the fan.  Not everyone is excited about Elena’s new condition and someone is out to kill her and bring down Raphael at the same time.  Vicious attacks are being perpetrated against Raphael’s people and Elena is called on to help track the evil-doer.  As soon as she able to get out of bed Elena resumes her work as a tracker within the Refuge, begins studying angel history with Jessamy and the angelic young and begins training (weapons and otherwise) with Dimitri, Galen, and Illium.  Elena knows she must prove herself to Raphael’s Seven and if she cannot do this, she will never be accepted nor respected by Raphael’s innermost circle.  Elena pushes herself to the breaking point every day in order to be strong enough and competent enough to stand among the Seven and by Raphael’s side.  Elena’s determination is admirable and one of her greatest strengths.

Elena’s new condition, strength, and position as Raphael’s mate are known, but not well known.  Unfortunately (especially for Elena) one of those who does know of the situation is Lijuan, the oldest and now craziest of the archangels.  For Lijuan, Elena is a novelty and in order to better appreciate Raphael’s new toy, Lijuan invites the pair, and everyone else of significance in the angelic world, to her court for a grand ball.  While a ball does sound like a grand time, there’s one teensy, tiny little problem: Lijuan has discovered how to make zombies and she’s not afraid to show them off.  Understandably everyone, including the über-scary-nothing-scares-us Cadre is concerned by this development.

In order to avoid the appearance of weakness Raphael and Elena prepare (intensely!) to attend the ball.  As their departure date grows ever nearer the attacks against Raphael and Elena continue to escalate.  By the time they reach China, everyone is on high alert.  To say there is a kerfuffle, an incident, an event that occurs at the ball would be nowhere close to what goes down.  I’m not even sure there is a word to describe the ugly that goes down at Lijuan’s ball.  Lijuan allows her pets to walk freely among the guests, the mastermind behind the vicious attacks is both discovered and beheaded and the members of the Cadre are forced to stand against Lijuan.  Given her age and power even the oldest among the Cadre are not sure the combined power of the remaining can take her out.  See?  Didn’t I tell you the crap hit the fan?

Mixed in nicely and logically with all the drama is the growing relationship between Elena and Raphael.  Raphael is used to having his way and having his word obeyed always and without question.  Elena is strong and fiercely independent and not about to take orders from anyone least of all her mate.  Though the two often butt heads they are also clearly meant to be together and work well as a team.  Their naughty moments are sensual, lusty and hot and will keep you coming back for more.

The Bottom Line: I can’t get enough of this series!!  Elena and Raphael are excellent characters but the strength of the series lies in the long-reaching, twisting and turning plot line and the fantastic cast of other (they are so not minor) characters.  Woven into the major plot line are multiple arcs involving a variety of characters.  We learn a bit more, though not nearly enough, about most of the members of the Seven and gain some insight into a few other members of the Cadre.  Singh has created characters to love, characters to hate, and characters to absolutely reserve judgment about until a later time and date.  Though I have read most of the series more than once, I can still see this as a series I will return to again and again as the years go by!

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