I’ve heard about Nalini Singh’s books for quite a while, so when she started a new series, I wanted to try the first book. It actually took me three tries to get into it. I don’t usually persevere, but I’ll admit that the enthusiasm people had for this book and its sequel, Archangel’s Kiss, spurred me on to try that third time.
And I’m glad I did.
I found the world-building interesting and fresh. The angels felt alien (some more than others), which is what you want with immortals who take a different view of the world than a regular human. I like it when immortality has an effect on the character. (It actually wasn’t until we had a scene in the hero’s point of view that I became hooked by the book, as the first few chapters were in Elena’s point of view.)
The hero, Raphael, needs Elena, a vampire hunter, to go after a rogue angel. And while that plot doesn’t fully develop until the second half of the book, I enjoyed evolution of Raphael and Elena’s relationship which is not easy. He does things like force his mind upon her and she shoots him, endangering his life. I quite enjoy this kind of rocky start to a relationship when the two people are supposed to have such different values and priorities. (They do eventually find common ground.)
I should back up. This a world where archangels (older angels with more power) rule certain areas of the world. There are also vampires who are made by angels, but who must serve one hundred years of servitude before gaining their freedom. Elena is a vampire hunter—she can smell them—and she returns rogue vampires, usually ones causing great harm to humans, to their angels.
Raphael is an archangel with all the attendant worries such power gives him. Another archangel has gone crazy (this is a bit of a secret) and he needs Elena to help him track the rogue archangel down.
Anyway! There’s quite a bit of plot and quite a bit of world-building. I had feared at the beginning, and this is probably the reason I stopped reading it twice, that the relationship between Raphael and Elena wouldn’t be that interesting. Kickass woman matched with overpowering alpha male—well it felt quite familiar. But Singh goes on to do some interesting exploration of that, I felt.
Both Elena and Raphael have damaged pasts, although these are not dwelt on, even if they’re important. I wouldn’t call this angsty at all, and yet I teared up at one point with totally surprised me.
I definitely plan to continue reading this series. By the way, there’s a fair amount of violence, even if it doesn’t feel gratuitous or overdone.