Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: Archangel's Kiss - Nalini Singh

I think I start every single review I do for Nalini Singh’s books exclaiming how much she manages to impress me, how great it is, and how much I love it.

This one is no different. Archangel’s Kiss proves, once again, that Nalini Singh is a master at writing. She deftly weaves multiple storylines together, builds interest in supporting characters, and gives yet more depth to Raphael and Elena.

Archangel’s Kiss picks up a little over a year after Angel’s Blood (the first full-length novel in the Guild Hunters series). Elena’s spent that time in a healing coma, and has just woken as a newly Made angel. One who doesn’t know how to be an angel, and has to learn everything – even those things she once knew, like how to fight.

And she must learn quickly. The other angels, and archangels, have taken an interest in her. She’s like a shiny new toy. One that someone is anxious to see how quickly they can break, hoping to take their place with the Cadre by that show of power. Refuge, a safe place for the angels, is suddenly no longer safe as attacks begin to happen, one after the other. Circling the threat closer and closer to Elena.

Then there’s Lijuan. The eldest of the archangels has taken a deadly interest in Elena, and is throwing a ball in her honor at the Forbidden City in Beijing. While rumors of her making the dead walk as living flourish, there’s danger in accepting, but even more in refusing. Because this is not a social gathering to congratulate Elena, it’s all about power. Testing Elena’s and Raphael’s, and Lijuan showing hers. Making it an invitation that can’t be refused.

Archangel’s Kiss held me in a sort of thrall from the first word, to the last. We see Elena training with Raphael’s Seven to get her up to speed, and work closer towards that first flight. The details in every page painted a clear picture of how the angels live. From their shirts, to their houses, to the beauty of flight. The action and mystery of the plot sped the story along, compelling me to not put my Kindle down until I hit the last sentence. There were many light moments to offset the growing darkness that surrounded and threatened them, including fields blooming in winter, a class with angel-children, and playful teasing with Illium. And, of course, there was the not-so-light heat and chemistry between Elena and Raphael. The sexual tension that builds between them is mind-blowing.

Nalini deftly delves into the relationship of Elena and Raphael, showing the gradual growth and trust build between them beautifully and realistically. Their respective histories begin to unfold for us, and them. There are the horrors that hide in Elena’s mind, even from her, and Raphael’s past complete with the secret of his parents. Both of them were in unfamiliar territory, but they worked through it. With each other. And for each other. I can’t think of anything more romantic than that.

Raphael said that Elena would intrigue him through eternity. I think it’s safe to say that this series will intrigue me for just as long. I’m fascinated with the world, and the characters that populate it. I feel as though I’ve been given the gift of seeing the world Nalini’s created, and it’s left me breathless for the next installment.

Grade: A+

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