Angels' Blood

Nalini Singh
March 2009, Paranormal Romance
Berkley Sensation, $7.99, 364 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425226921
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

If you’re a fan of paranormals, no doubt you’ve heard about Nalini Singh by now. I’ve been trying to set aside time to check out her Psy-Changeling series for quite a while, so I was thrilled when I was able to get the first book in her Guild Hunter series for review. Now I can see what all the hubbub is about – Angels’ Blood was an intense, engrossing read.

Singh’s new world is populated by several different beings: archangels, regular angels, vampires, hunters, and humans. The archangels have enormous power and have typically been around for millennia. They’re gorgeous creatures with enormous wings whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Humans can petition the angels for immortality or, in other words, to be made a vampire. If an angel makes a vampire, that vampire is required to serve his maker for 100 years. Sometimes, when a person achieves immortality they don’t feel rules apply to them anymore and they skip out on their servitude. That’s where the Guild Hunters come in.

Elena is a born hunter. She is slightly stronger than a normal human and has a much better sense of smell, which gives her the ability to track and capture vampires. Instead of doing away with the immortals, she brings them back to their masters. She’s also the best the Guild has, so when the archangel of New York needs a hunter, the director signs her up. She’s anything but pleased, however, because archangels are incredibly powerful, lethal beings who have little if any respect for humans. But for those very reasons, she can hardly decline and goes to report for what she’s sees as a death sentence. That theory is solidified in her mind when the archangel, Raphael, tells her that this time she will be hunting another archangel.

Elena’s worries are quite valid. The governing archangels need her special abilities to track one of their own who has gone rogue, but once she has accomplished her mission, they plan to eliminate her. If she succeeds in tracking the archangel, she’ll know too much about the mysterious beings, and they haven’t ruled for millennia without taking care of such leaks. Raphael is completely on the same page for a large portion of this book, and is even more willing to kill Elena when she seems to pose a threat to his own position of power. However, he finds the strong hunter who dares to question and defy him intriguing, and he’s lived long enough to know that when something fascinates him, he should hold onto it as long as possible.

This story is really captivating, and the author describes the world and its various creatures vividly. I could clearly picture the angels with their magnificent wings as they were flying, engaging in battles, or even just standing around. At first I thought it might be weird to have a hero with enormous wings, but they were just another appendage and were actually used to convey emotions, which was pretty neat.

I only wish the relationship between Raphael and Elena was better developed in certain areas. For the first half of the book, they’re at odds with each other. Elena seems to go a little overboard defying an archangel and it’s made clear that if Raphael didn’t need her, he would have killed her for her insolence. So, they bicker and test boundaries, but there’s heat and tension between them. When they begin a sexual relationship, emotions don’t play into it. Then suddenly and rather inexplicably they are deeply in love. I wouldn’t describe the first three-fourths of the book as terribly romantic, but the final pages are wonderfully so. While I certainly enjoyed that shift, it happened very late and I didn’t see where it came from – there was no turning point and I found it jarring.

I should also mention that while the sex scenes only warrant a warm sensuality rating, there are sexual suggestions throughout the book. It seems like every male is instantly attracted to Elena and they make it known, sometimes crudely.

Despite feeling that the romance had some inconsistency, I thought Angels’ Blood was a great beginning to a new series. I was instantly drawn into a world where angels fly across the sky, and I’ll be looking forward to Singh's next installment.

-- Andi Davis

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