Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh

Title: Archangel's Shadows
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunters, Book 7
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 28 October 2014
Source: From publisher in exchange for an honest review

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

Look at that cover? Isn't it GORGEOUS? I love the art for this series - so much that I've bought a print of one of the covers. Tony Mauro does excellent work, capturing the feel of the books along with the little details - enough to make me believe that I'm looking at the characters I'm reading about. I love that. This one has a ton of little details that come directly from the book and it made me giddy after I was done reading to go look at it and see them there. So much fun.

Ever since Angels' Pawn I've been looking forward to reading more about Ashwini and Janvier - even while I loved every single book in between, I still asked each time I met Nalini Singh when we were going to get more of these fantastic characters.

I loved Ashwini immediately. She's damaged and strong, kind and kick-ass, with a big heart and a playful sense of humor. In the beginning Ash knows that she's being selfish in taking the time and closeness with Janvier, knows that she has to tell him the truth. I could feel her pain when she thought about this, and I loved that she didn't deliberately try to keep it a secret from him. She knew she had to tell him, she made the decision, and she did it. And then my heart broke, cracked and shattered. I cried for several pages at the reveal and I had to reassure myself that Nalini writes romances, that the HEA (happily-ever-after) is guaranteed. It's the first time, in a long time, that I've had to remind myself of that. That should indicate how heartbroken, how worried I was. It made me love her more though. I wanted to make it better and support her. Ashwini is someone that I'd be best friends with, and I feel - a little - like I am, after reading this book.

Janvier's a flirt, and I loved it. He's playful and fun and absolutely supportive. Though he wants to keep Ash safe he doesn't ever try to hem her in. His Cajun accent, down-to-earth sensibilities, and lovable demeanor all entice - not just me, but almost everyone he meets. What a lot of people don't see is the steel hidden beneath the charm. Janvier is dangerous and deadly, it almost makes me feel sorry for those that step over the line of honor. But not really. Watching him take care of business was a little shocking, and awesome as hell. I really enjoyed seeing how Janvier interacts with the Seven, and with Raphael. The relationship is different than the Seven enjoy with Raphael, but it's clearly a strong bond nonetheless.

Together these two make a fabulous pair. I loved that neither of them were playing hard to get. There were obstacles, there were things to be discussed, but there was never the cat-and-mouse game. Of course that game, or courtship as Janvier calls it, happened in previously with a handful of mentions, always making me - and other hunters - grin at their antics. Seeing how smoothly they work together, something not all couples can do, and how much they adore one another made me giddy with happiness. Janvier knows and loves his Ashblade in ways that make me want to swoon. One thing - of many - that I loved about their relationship was that they weren't always in each other's pockets. I sometimes get frustrated by how everyone else seems to fade for the couple when they find each other. Ashwini and Janvier hold their friendships important, shown multiple times throughout the book, whether that's with mutual friends or not. This is something that I've noticed especially in this book and series.

Though this book, unquestionably, focuses on Ashwini and Janvier there's also a lot of glimpses through other beloved character's points-of-view. We get quite a bit of Elena, some Raphael and Dmitri and maybe even a couple other characters I'm not remembering at the moment. Each thing served to build either the ongoing world and events - some of the important ones from Archangel's Legion for example - or the mystery that was being solved. It's hard for me to say much, but I did think that there was a little bit of a 'too neat' resolution to some of the mystery threads in this book. It's not a huge thing and didn't bother me much because everything else about it was seriously suspenseful with potentially dire consequences.

Lastly, but definitely not least, there is Naasir. Before this he was just one of the Seven to me. He was there, I was a little curious, but I wasn't salivating to know more. Now, though? Oh-my-gods. I need to know more! We get quite a few fun and tantalizing bits of information on him, but never enough. No where near enough.

To say that I was highly anticipating this book would be a massive understatement. Once again Nalini Singh delivers in this highly original, seductive and dangerous world. She's consistently magnificent, drawing authentic characters that I'm invested in. I can't wait to see what she does next!!!

Grade: A-

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