Angels’ Blood – Nalini Singh
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she’s the best—but she doesn’t know if she’s good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, only one thing is clear—failure is not an option…even if the task is impossible.
Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other…and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break…
Angels’ Blood is the first Nalini Singh novel that I’ve read. Nalini was recommended to me by a couple of friends who share my taste in paranormal romance authors so I had no problems picking up a new author. As I began reading I found myself checking back a couple of time to make sure that Angels’ Blood is indeed the first Guild Hunter novel of the series. There was something about the way that Singh launches into the storyline that gave me the sense that I was missing some important background details.
It didn’t take very long however before I was able to push that distraction aside and get into Elena and Raphael’s tale. The first couple of chapters are devoted to establishing what a tough chick Guild Hunter Elena is, despite hauling around a great deal of emotional baggage where her family is considered. Then we are introduced to Archangel Raphael and it quickly becomes apparent that Singh’s version of angels is quite a bit different from the way that many of us ‘know’ them to be. For starters, they live on earth and seem to be very much in control of humanity, without any mention of God or heaven. They also have very human-like emotions and behaviours, and not just our best traits either.
We quickly learn that this is not the only major difference in the Guild Hunter world. The other main difference being the fact that vampires are quite prevalent and rank under angels, but above humans, in the social hierarchy. Some members of the human population do their best to level the playing field between the vampires and humanity but the powers that be – the angles – value the vampires more than they do the humans, and humans themselves are lining up in droves to apply to become vampires.
I was quite intrigued by the idea of a world that reveres vampires as it is in direct contrast to the majority of paranormal literature that I’ve read where vampires are feared, hidden, marginalized and hunted by mankind. I was also fascinated by the idea of angels ruling on earth in all their imperfect glory. They are portrayed as cold and dispassionate, concerned more with control and power than with right vs. wrong, good vs. evil. In fact, the angels themselves walk a fine line where morality is concerned and they are a law unto themselves, without any apparent higher authority to answer to.
As one of the most powerful of the Cadre of Ten, the ruling archangels, Raphael contracts Elena to put her Guild hunting skills to the test to track down one of their own who has turned rogue. Even though Elena knows that she is the best Hunter that there is, even she doubts her ability to track a rogue archangel. After all, vampires are her specialty, not angels. And then there is the pesky fact that although Raphael terrifies her with his incredible power and lack of predictability, she is also sexually attracted to him and he makes no secret that the sentiment is mutual.
Their mutual attraction grows as the archangel and Guild Hunter team up to track and destroy the rogue, who is cutting a wide path of destruction through Raphael’s territory, torturing and killing innocent (read virginal) young women at a rate that makes even the most diabolical serial killers seem tame in comparison. They get their rogue in the end, of course, but not without great personal cost to both of them. They put their lives on the line, suffer tremendous personal injury and find themselves both transformed in the end, no longer the same beings that they were at the beginning of their quest.
Although I thought that the novel got off to a bit of a shaky start, Singh answers the majority of those early questions by the end, filling in the missing details one fact at a time. We come to understand why the angels value vampires over humans and award them special status. What is left to answer further in the series is how the angels themselves became earthbound and whether or not there is a higher power that they must answer to. It’s enough of a mystery for me, that when accompanied by the edginess of the angels themselves, I’ll pick up the next book in the series. There is a certain blue winged angel, a dark angel, and a naughty vampire that I’m looking forward to learning more about and I’m hoping for some steamy scenes involving them in the future!
Rating: Fairly Tempting