Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

A Hunter’s Guild Novel
Berkley Sensation
ISBN: 978-0-425-24391-6
September 2011
Paranormal Romance

Manhattan, New York - Present Day

The decapitated head of a vampire too young to be out of seclusion leaves Dmitri with enough questions; adding the unusual yet strangely familiar tattoo on the cheek to the mix means he’ll need some help from the Guild. The hunter the Guild sends, though, is so terrified of him and the other vampires that he’ll doubt she’ll be of much help.

Honor St. Nicholas has not left the Guild Academy (the school where hunters are trained) since her release from the hospital, and the thought of taking a mission that would bring her into contact with vampires terrifies her. It has been almost a year since her friends freed her from the basement where she was held captive for two months, tortured and used by sadistic vampires as little more than their pet. She’s buried herself at the Guild Academy, but when Sara, the Guild’s Director, orders her to the Tower, Honor knows that it’s time to face her nightmares. The fact that she’ll have to deal with Dmitri—someone who scares even the older vampires, and the second of Raphael, the Archangel of New York—only makes matters worse.

In spite of his reputation and inhumanity, Honor is drawn to Dmitri, even before he offers to find her tormentors and let her gain her vengeance. As he searches for the people responsible for her captivity, she researches the tattoo, and Honor and Dmitri quickly learn that both of their pasts have come back to haunt them.

Dmitri is the ARCHANGEL’S BLADE; not only Raphael’s, but also sort of the enforcer when it comes to vampires, and in this book we finally learn of his past. As a thousand-year-old vampire, his humanity was lost long ago, and through the past few novels readers have seen his reaction to Raphael’s falling in love with Elena. Dmitri has viewed this relationship as a weakness for Raphael, something his enemies can, and have, used against him. Yet, it’s not just his position as the leader of the Seven (Raphael’s elite squad) that holds this viewpoint; it’s the man who once lost the only woman he’ll ever love. When he meets Honor, he sees past the fear to the lush beauty that he desires as he hasn’t since his wife’s death, but he also sees the woman battling her demons. Having once been a captive himself, Dmitri knows the strength it takes to face your fears, and his protective instincts—also dormant since his wife’s death—rise up and demand that he avenge the torture she endured.

Living in a world where Dmitri is often responsible for meting out swift and brutal justice, combined with the horrors both have endured, means that this is definitely not a sweet romance. The softer emotions were burned out of Dmitri long ago, and he’s not often the most pleasant of men. Yet Honor—abandoned as an infant and relegated to not-so-nice foster homes before finally moving to New York and joining the Guild—appreciates the actions he takes on her behalf, and the protective way he treats her. He also manages to stir her out of the apathy she’s been living with for the past ten months, and Honor finds herself reluctantly drawn to the powerful vamp.

While this book takes place immediately following ARCHANGEL’S CONSORT, its focus is on Dmitri and Honor, rather than Raphael and Elena. It’s not exactly a book that would stand on its own though, in spite of being somewhat removed from the story arc in the previous books. Whether you’ve followed the Hunter’s Guild novels or not, though, ARCHANGEL’S BLADE is a riveting book that readers will find difficult to put down.

Jennifer Bishop

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