Review today is Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh. Please peeps, don't throw tomatoes at me :P
Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in September 2011
The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal romance
Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.
As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...
Series: The Guild Hunter, Book #4
The Story: Archangel's Blade opens with a severed head being found in the river. This head is special as it belongs to a newly made vampire whom the Tower is unaware of and it has some kind of tattoo. When the body turns up in many pieces in Times Square where Raphael punished a vampire in Angel's Blood, Dmitri knows it's personal. As Raphael and Elena are absent, the vampire steps in and takes up the investigation. He reaches to the Guild for help to decipher the tattoo and the director sends him their expert in ancient languages and history, Honor.
For two months, Honor was kept captive, blind-folded, by vampires for them to feed and play their sick games. She was lucky to be rescued by her fellow hunters, Ransom and Ashwini, and has spent the past few months recovering and hiding in the Guild Academy library. She's always had this strange fascination for Dmitri - even keeping a scrapbook of him, but after what she's been through, the thought of meeting him doesn't make her happy... It scares her. However, the director is not giving her a choice and it's time for her to start putting her life back together. Nobody said it'd be easy.
Dmitri is attracted to and intrigued by Honor; however, he knows she cannot be rushed otherwise she'll run. No matter, he is a very patient man...
My Opinion: Okay, so please people, don't throw tomatoes at me LOL. I know I'm in the minority of readers who aren't wowed by Ms Singh' Guild Hunter series. I really enjoyed Archangel's Kiss and there were some elements in Archangel's Consort that I liked, but as a whole... I don't know, the Guild Hunter series is not working for me and I simply enjoy the Psy-Changelings series much better. Still, I decided to give a try to Archangel's Blade as Dmitri was the hero and I thought perhaps it'd change my feeling towards this series... Unfortunately, it didn't.
Oh, the writing is still great. Hey, it's Ms Singh after all :) I definitively have no complaints about that. For me, what's not working in the Guild Hunter series is the feel. It seems to me Ms Singh is trying very hard to make this series "dark" - perhaps too hard. The constant mention of torture, regeneration and infliction of pain and the reluctance of the ones who have to inflict the pain and do it because "they have to"... it just get repetitive and over-bearing. The fact that so many of the characters have been punished and hence, have "tortured" souls. I know it gives them interesting pasts, but it's just too much. It's like nobody in the series has had a normal life/upbringing and that's just weird. Like I said, it feels to me Ms Singh is trying too hard, that the atmosphere is too forced.
All right, enough about the series, let's talk about Archangel's Blade. I have to say, I've never been a big fan of Dmitri. He's simply not my cup of tea. Most readers find him sexy and sensual. Me? Well I didn't like the way he treated Elena in previous books and the whole tendrils of exquisite scents just go over my head LOL. I like likable characters and Dmitri is not. I guess getting his book, I was hoping Ms Singh would turn him into a more sympathetic hero... but she didn't and kudos to her for it. Dmitri's personality in Archangel's Blade is the same as in previous books, she didn't change him to please the fans and that's not only brave, but smart as well, because otherwise, it wouldn't be Dmitri. So yeah, I still feel lukewarm about him. His whole "I like a bit of pain during sex" probably made some fans swoon, but it left me indifferent. While I didn't warm up to his character, I did enjoy reading about his past :) That part was interesting and unexpected :)
As for Honor, I did like her. Really, what's not to like? Strong and smart heroine who's trying to overcome trauma. She isn't as kick-ass as some other heroines, but she is one determined woman. The romance was also nice with just the right amount of protectiveness and sweetness :) Although I wished for a bit more. Also, I'm not entirely won over by the revelation at the end. I usually like that type of romance, but the revelation is usually earlier in the romance. The problem in this case is that we don't see Dmitri really processing the revelation.
Now, the story. Archangel's Blade has two storylines: one is about the severed head found which is linked to Dmitri's past and the other is Dmitri and Honor finding Honor's captors and seeking justice/revenge. I really liked the storyline involving Honor's case. I thought it was great that Dmitri helped her out and by finding her captors, it gave Honor's closure. Plus, the whole plot was intriguing and engaging. I liked how from a bite, they found one person which led to another and another and another :) Personally, the way it was developed, I think the story should have been about this and Honor and Dmitri of course. As it is, the other storyline about the severed head got the short end. I thought the mystery/suspense of it was very thin. Since there was little focus on it, the clues became very obvious... And I really didn't like how it was linked to Dmitri's past. I understand why Ms Singh did it, so she could bring up Dmitri's past... I simply don't understand why it didn't happen sooner ^_^; Why now? Yes, it is Dmitri's book, but it's a bit too coincidental.
My Grade: C+. I've really been torn about this grade, debating between B- and C+. In the end, although it pains me because this is by Ms Singh, I need to be honest with myself. Do I love this book? No. I've enjoyed parts of it and so, I did like it-ish... and therefore, it's in the C range. I really don't know what I'm going to do when the next full-length Guild Hunter novel comes out. I guess it's going to depend on the characters, story and reviews :) Although knowing myself, I'm most probably going to read it because it's Ms Singh after all :)