ARC Review: Archangel’s Blade

Nalini Singh
Angel’s Blood (Guild Hunter #4)
Berkley
ISBN-10: 0425243915
ISBN-13: 978-0425243916
Paranormal romance
September 6, 2011

Blurb via the author’s site:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh is back in the shadows of a deadly, beautiful world where angels rule, vampires serve, and one female hunter must crawl out of the darkness to survive…

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…

First of all, this book deserves a better cover. I’m not sure what cheesetastic imagination circus that thing above was born from, but it needs a little less superficiality and lot more of the heart and other strengths found within. Bah, cover – bah!

And confession time: I didn’t care for the last book, which I’ll explain later. I didn’t care for it so much that I decided not to even review it. Yeah, I was that unenthused. To make it short, I’d been growing tired of Elena and Raphael’s story for three books, which never felt like anything new after the first one. So I was relieved that this book would be about a different couple, and I just hoped and prayed that the romance would shine through.

Thankfully, prayers were answered and the sun got all sooper shiny and stuff!I thought that this book might make or break the series for me. Dudes, it definitely made it. I’m hanging on and in full swing with this installment. Thank you, Singh Brand of Romance for bringing it all back.

OK, so I said I’d talk about why I didn’t finish Archangel’s Consort, book three in the series, later, but let’s get that out of the way now, as it has to do with my few dislikes of this book. Basically? It was the curse of the Same ‘Ole Same ‘Ole. Or SOSO for short. I loved Raphael and Elena in their first book. They felt breathtakingly unique and refreshing for me and paranormal romance reading. And I’m not an angel romance book lover, I swears. The general theme feels over hyped and badly done for the most part, from what I’ve read. But Singh’s premise was different, wildly, darkly and uniquely so. I love how she ties them into her vampire creationism.

Then by the second book, it all started to feel a little SOSO. Not *very* SOSO, just a little. The Uber Hotness Brigade, which was literally everyone in book two, pretty much, was too much. There’s really actually nothing much fun about every angel, every vampire, every Hunter being Sooper Powerful, Sooper HAWT, Sooper Everything. What makes them special then if they’re all so extra? Plus, it just gets implausible and not a little silly. So that feeling started in book two.

Then in book three, the dreaded time I DNFed a Singh book, the plot itself became very SOSO. With the series as a whole, including this current installment, I’d like to see some variation in the darkness of these characters and in the villains. As it stand, there is really one main thing that makes these angels and vampires dangerous and the results of it are the exact same in all of them. When the angels go batshit crazy, the same thing happens to each of them and all I can think of now when an angel appears in the books is a big, sad, emo wall of doom – which isn’t really that sexy (although I still maintain that I appreciate the alien-esque intelligence and very un-human qualities they have, though at some point I suppose I do need an in to be able to relate to them, and that in gets harder to find). When the bad vampires decide that life has gone on too long and jaded isn’t quite entertaining enough, they all go the same route; or when new ones are made, but have complications, we see the same kinds of killing sprees and serial murder.

In other words, there are no surprises. This becomes like filler, like noise that messes with my enjoyment of the romance. I only feel strongly about this because I  love Singh’s romances so much. And now that I’ve made it sound like I am being overly critical, let me assure everyone that I did indeed love this book.

Oh Dmitri and Honor – you are wonderful. This couple, everyone – wow. It’s a little hard to discuss why I love their romance so much because there’s a great twist to it all, but that twist, that particular trope, I suppose, is one of my favorite types in romance. If done well. And Singh does it SO WELL.

If you’ve read my blog long enough, you might know that I have an aversion to especially brutal violence towards women in these kinds of books, our grittier reads. Honor has suffered terribly before we even come into this book’s storyline, so the entire book deals with the aftermath of it, and it aids in binding her and Dmitri together so very tightly. Dangerously. Enticingly. Sweetly and erotically. You’ll need tissues for several scenes and you’ll need some paper to fan yourself during others.

I wasn’t entirely accepting of Dmitri at first. I immediately sympathized with Honor’s situation, and due to what she went through, Dmitri had to prove himself, not to just Honor, but me as well. So as Honor distrusted him, so did I. Singh did a phenomenal job of drawing me as a reader into Honor’s pain and hope and determination to live again without making me feel as though I was being made to feel things that weren’t there. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t sensationalized, yet she didn’t shy away from the horrible details as Honor reflects on what happened time and again. It…it’s hard to explain. So many romance books get this type of situation so wrong, but Singh handles it all with such a deft way with words and nuances, using Honor and Dmitri’s budding relationship as the runway for it all. And that is what Sing always, always does so well. She ties it all in. There is no waste to her words. Everything will move you in this book.

Getting back to the dislikes about the series to this point for a minute – I do feel that the series itself takes a turn for the better here. I feel this is due to the focus being ore on the vampire side of the series than anything. While, yes, I do wish things would differentiate between each vampire’s personal conflict/going crazy routine, etc. a little more, I have to admit that I’m finding the vampires a little more interesting these days. More…lively than the angels. Possibly more diverse, and hopefully this will become more so in future books. The only angelic exception would be Illium, aka Bluebell, with his blue-tipped angel wings. I do look forward to his book one day, but I’m also excited to read Venom’s story as well, a vampire of note in this installment who helps play nursemaid/babysitter/something else possibly to a young vamp woman who rename’s herself Sorrow, a victim of a crazed angel in a previous installment.

This is still a young series with plenty of room to grow, and with this book under it’s belt, I’m excited to see how much further it expands. Honor is now one of my most favorite Singh heroines and hers and Dmitri’s romances turned out to be one of the most satisfying in Singh’s arsenal. You really can’t ask for much better than that.

Rating: Four and Half Scoops

Series order:

  • Angels’ Blood
  • Must Love Hellhounds (anthology – Angels’ Judgement)
  • Archangel’s Kiss
  • Archangel’s Consort
  • Archangel’s Blade
  • Angels of Darkness (Oct. 2011 anthology)

 

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11 comments

  1. Ahhh, good to know! I DNF’d Archangel’s Kiss because well… I loved the first book but Raphael and Elena just didn’t do it for me by that second book. I was quite disappointed… and that’s unheard of for me too (with Singh).

    But this? This book sounds great! I hope that I can read it and that it will stand well on its own because it will definitely be on my pile soon. Thanks for the review. :)

    • Hils, I DO think this one can stand on its own, which I don’t normally push when it comes to Singh’s series, but yeah.

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. I didn’t even bother with the third installment, because the power imbalance in Elena and Raphael’s relationship made me all ragey. I get that he was pretty much an ancient being who wasn’t used to changing the way he did things, but I started to feel like he was never going to see Elena as his equal. And I didn’t like the fact that Elena was beginning to compromise on that. (Also, hate to say it, but Thea Harrison handled a similar type of relationship better in Storm’s Heart with Pia and Dragos.)

    I might be tempted to drag myself through it, though, just to get to this book. I love me some well-written Singh romance (the fact that I adore the Psy-Changeling series so much meant I was doubly-disappointed by the progression of the Archangel series) so I’m thinking I can handle one bad book if the others are going to improve on the series. Thanks for the review!

    • Lianne, the good thing is you don’t really have to have read the previous book to appreciate this one. Anything that is alluded to in previous books is pretty well supported in this one.

  3. For a short time I forgot about Kaleb. Dmitri is one hot mo fo. His everlasting love for his wife had me sniffling.

    This may also be the darkest book Nalini has written.

    • YOU…forgot about Kaleb? *thud*

      I agree it was a dark read. Poor Honor and Dmitri! But especially Honor. Well, and Dmitri. Gah, I cannot say whyyyy!

  4. O_o_o! ME WANT!!! I’m so glad this is better than the last two. I’ve had absolutely the same feelings for Kiss and Consort – they read as one and the same book – dominate, rage, make out, blood dripping, nightmares, repeat – I was tired if it.
    Actually I prefer UK covers for the whole series, they are much more consistent.

    • Well, I had no idea others would feel the same way about the previous books! Really, I cringed while writing those criticisms. Sometimes I just hate to say it about author’s works that I usually love, but I guess it can happen any time.

      I don’t think I’ve seen the UK covers, looking them up now…

      Oh wait, yes I have (looked at ‘em just now lol), and you’re right, better all around.

  5. You are definitely not alone, I must confess that I didn’t like the previous books in the series, the first one was good but it didn’t grab me as much as her psy/changeling books and I think that the only reason I kept reading them (besides the fact that Nalini is an amazing writer) was because I was hoping to get Dmitri’s book. I was obsessed with that character ever since he first appeared and based on the reviews I won’t be disappointed. The other character that really intrigues me is Venom, I don’t know how Nalini does it but her bad boys are sinfully good. There’s something about Dmitri, Venom and Kaleb that I can’t pinpoint but OMG they are like the divine triumvirate of evil hotness. I’m so looking forward to this book that I even forgot that Meljean Brook’s next Guardians book comes out the same day!

    • This might be one of the most fun parts about online interaction – when others feel the same way about books, whether it’s the likes or dislikes. Thanks for sharing yours!

      I looove this: “There’s something about Dmitri, Venom and Kaleb that I can’t pinpoint but OMG they are like the divine triumvirate of evil hotness.”

      :D

  6. Ooo this sounds great and I need to get around to reading my ARC ASAP.

    I liked the second book much better than the first, but I think I’m going to skip the third. Because I know I’d have the same issue as you did with the SOSO aspect. With some characters less is more. And Dmitri is decidedly more revelevant to my interests than Raphael.

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