by Nalini Singh
Released: September 4, 2012
4 stars (out of 5)
With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.
Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.
With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.
Archangel Raphael’s spymaster Jason finally gets his own romance in Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Storm. With a title like that I was expecting non-stop action and excitement; what I got was a mystery that builds to a stormy conclusion and a quiet romance for a hero who lives in shadow.
Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series features an Earth where angels rule over vast territories and are able to grant immortality to humans by transforming them into vampires in exchange for 100 years of service. Since vampires are but a heartbeat away from going rogue – or trying to run out on their contracts – a group of humans called Hunters have been organized and trained to track/capture/kill the vampires when necessary. At the heart of the series is Raphael, Archangel of North America, and his group of Seven – four angels and three vampires dedicated to his service. The first three books of the series focus on Raphael and his love for Guild Hunter-turned-angel Elena, while the fourth highlights Raphael’s second-in-command (and best friend) vampire Dimitri and his romance with Guild Hunter Honor. (A short story detailing the romance of Raphael’s weaponsmaster, angel Galen, can be found in the anthology Angel’s Flight.) Now the spotlight shines on angelic spymaster Jason as he tries to unravel the mystery of who murdered the consort of Archangel Neha, Queen of Snakes and Poison who rules the territory of India. What he’ll uncover is a centuries-old secret buried under layers of jealousy and betrayal and an angel who will teach him how to love again.
I love this series and the broken/damaged characters who are a part of it. All the members of the Seven are intriguing in their own ways, but three of the angels have attracted me the most – Illium (Elena’s angelic best-friend, also known as “Bluebell”), Aodhan (an angel so broken inside he cannot stand to be touched), and Jason. I was thrilled to see Jason was the hero of Archangel’s Storm since I really wanted to know more about his backstory and the childhood that scarred him to the point of contemplating death as a release. I was a little nervous about it, too, since abuse can come in so many horrible forms. While his childhood WAS tragic, thankfully it wasn’t quite as black as I had envisioned (I think Aodhan’s story will be worse). Flashbacks to Jason’s past are spaced neatly throughout the story and provide a counterpoint to events in the present, gradually revealing why he has distanced himself from other angels and the possibility of love. But it is the attraction he feels for Princess Mahiya (Neha’s adopted daughter) that makes him question that distance for the first time.
Gentle, kind, and scared of developing attachments to others for fear they will be punished for befriending her, Mahiya is a different heroine than previous ones in this series. She is not a fighter but a diplomat, skilled in the evasions and politics of the royal court she was raised in and dreams of escaping. I liked the way she was portrayed by Singh as an angel who has seen the ugly side of life and not allowed it to break her. She is full of hopes and dreams which is a nice balance for Jason’s darker outlook, and has the intelligence to assist him with the ins-and-outs of his investigation. The romance develops gradually and never feels forced, and the chemistry between Jason and Mahiya works. However, the intensity that propelled character actions in previous books is not present here, slowing the narrative down a bit.
In addition to the slower pace and quieter tone, this is the first book in the series to almost completely remove one of the Seven from the familiar surroundings of North America and the angelic stronghold The Refuge. Jason is separated from his team and placed in a new environment – India – that provides a very different feel to the story, one with a slightly exotic edge to it. There are visits with other members of the Seven, as vampire Venom stops in Neha’s court for an information exchange and Jason keeps in contact with Dimitri with updates via phone. The conversations with Dimitri also give us little glimpses at Honor’s transformation into a vampire, which is a nice addition. The murder mystery at the heart of Archangel’s Storm has some solid twists to it and as the investigation unfolds, the tension gradually builds and the pace quickens. The revelation of who was behind the murder didn’t feel like it was coming out of left field – enough hints were dropped that I began to suspect who was behind everything, but not so many that I felt the reveal was anti-climatic. It also sets things up for major unrest in the area that could have serious consequences in future books.
Nalini Singh takes a quieter turn with the romance of angels Jason and Mahiya in Archangel’s Storm. With an isolated hero and a gentle heroine investigating a high-profile murder, the tension slowly builds throughout the story and ends in a confrontation that shakes the foundation of Neha’s territory. Mystery and romance, rather than action, are at the heart of Archangel’s Storm, and with its slower pace and more reserved tone it feels more like a spring shower than a hurricane.