Archangel’s Kiss (Guild Hunter #2) by Nalini Singh

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

Rating: 3.5/5

I’m honestly not sure how I felt about this book. It was good, there’s no denying that. I was anxious to finish and intrigued by the plot. But … At times I felt that the main conflict of the storyline was Elena’s memories from the past haunting her. To me, that should have been secondary to the actual conflict of the present in the story.

Emotional conflict is strong, so strong at times that it can drown out everything else, especially if you have particularly developed characters. In some books, this is great. In some contexts, however, it can be a little overwhelming.

As you may recall, I was still slightly on the edge about my feelings for Elena and Raphael from the first book in the series. They were good, strong characters, but I had a tendency to find them a little irritating. The shift in perspective between the two was distracting, and I never really grew attached to either one of them—yes, the climax at the end of book 1 was terribly moving, but the potential for that emotion would have been there even if the characters had fallen completely flat.

I’m still a little on the edge about the two. Actually, throughout the course of this book, I found I grew a little closer to Raphael and further from Elena, in terms of emotional attachment. In some ways this is good—the relationship between the two grew, and Elena was learning to trust Raphael, so we’d expect to get a little closer to him as readers. I don’t think, however, that we were supposed to be distancing ourselves from Elena.

So let’s dissect Elena’s development over the course of this book, and this may touch on the edge of spoilers, but I will do my best to use generalized statements (because those are fun!)

To me, there were two primary themes in Elena’s development: 1) her learning to be an angel (both physically and mentally); and 2) her recently stirred up memories from the past. The first of these I believe was fairly well-done—I have some not so nice comments about Singh’s choice for the sexual tension related to this, but that didn’t really detract from the book for me.

The arc involving Elena’s memories was rather nicely developed, to be honest. It followed all of the appropriate patterns, Elena grew as a result of it, and we had a rather nicely symbolic conclusion at the end of the book. Objectively, it was well-done. Personally, however, I found it irritating. A large part of that was the serious lack of transition between reality and these bursts of memory. I understand that was a very intentional decision of Singh’s (or at least, I’m assuming it was). The point of these memory bursts was to be disruptive in Elena’s life. But seriously, every time there was any sort of emotional development in the relationship between Elena and Raphael (read: a sex scene or an avoid-sex-because-you’re-not-strong-enough-yet scene), there was an abrupt blast of memory. I mean, every time: sex, sleep, dream about memory. And what bothered me the most about this is that there was either absolutely no transition (sex concluded then ‘Taste‘ immediately, as if the act of doing it made her think about her past) or she’d say something along the lines of being so sated that she slept peacefully; so peacefully, in fact, that <insert something here>, and then we’d immediately go into one of these dark memories in her dreams. How is she sleeping peacefully if she’s having nightmares that wake her up?

And as a consequence of all of this, I found myself paying closer attention to these memory bursts than to the actual plot developments. It was as if the primary conflict of the novel (you know, that thing called a plot arc) was secondary to these memories. Yes, I understand that it was being influenced by these memories (which seemed rather convenient to me), but that doesn’t mean that it should just be a passing mention. There were several points where the narrative included comments along the lines of “oh yeah, by the way, there’s that thing going on over there too—yeah, that kinda sucks, but seriously, these dreams…”

Okay, so maybe I’m being a little cavalier. And I could totally give a very specific and serious example if I weren’t avoiding spoilers, so that’s all you get.

In spite of all of this, I did really enjoy the book. It was decently written and had a strong plot, even if I don’t feel like it got enough of the attention. I find this world intriguing and relatively unique, and I like that. Honestly, though, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue reading the series. We’ll see.

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Posted on July 14, 2013, in Urban Fantasy/Paranormal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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