Warning: the review has a huge spoiler, one of those that might ruin the book for you, so if you haven’t read the book or want to be surprised please don’t read it. I hid it as best I could but just in case you want to read the review and skip the spoiler be careful.
Confession time: I’m not really a fan of this series. I did like the first book but the only reason I kept reading the others was because the secondary characters were fantastic, and even though Elena and Raphael weren’t my favorites I loved everyone else, especially Dmitri. I was so happy when Nalini Singh announced that she was writing his book but now that I have finally read it I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. There were some amazing things about the book, but I was also a bit disappointed.
One thing I can’t deny is what an amazing writer Singh is. I’m in awe of her imagination, how on earth did she manage to create not one, but two incredible worlds? I have no idea, but she did it beautifully. As in her Psy/Changelling series, the world-building in the Guild Hunters series is incredibly well done and complex. Explaining these books’ universe is a bit difficult to do in just a few sentences but if you haven’t read them you should know that the books are set in a parallel universe where angels, vampires and humans coexist in a somewhat peaceful way. The Guild is in charge of keeping the vampires in check and hunting them down when they act outside of the law. The world is divided in countries just as it is now but also in some major territories, and each territory is ruled by an archangel, Raphael, the hero of the first three books, is New York’s archangel and Dmitri is his second in command.
When the book starts a murder has been committed and Dmitri called to the scene. When he sees the tattoo that marks the severed head (that’s the only part that remains) he knows that he must take charge of the investigation even though he doesn’t know what the tattoo means. The Guild sends language specialist Honor St. Nicholas to aid Dmitri, but the problem is that Honor was held captive by a group of vampires and brutalized and raped through the entire two weeks that she was imprisoned, and as a result she is terrified of vampires and there’s no one scarier than Dmitri. Their first encounter doesn’t go well but they both feel mysteriously drawn to one another and Dmitri decides to help her track her attackers so she can get revenge. While working together they learn more about each other and their attraction grows, but how can two scared and damaged characters let go of their fears enough to fall in love? That’s for you to read and find out.
As I said Dmitri was the main reason why I kept reading the books and I wasn’t disappointed by what I got in his book. This is a very dark character, as Honor says at one point in the book he walks a fine line between good and evil and I think he crosses it more than once. He is brutal, he is one thousand years old, and he has spent all those years honing his brutality. What drew me to him was that even though he was almost evil in his ways he was fiercely loyal to Raphael which made me think that there must be more to him, and boy was I right about that. This guy went through hell and back and I’m not really sure he lived to tell it. You know the phrase “secret pain”? Well, this guy has a shitload of secret pain, it was more like secret torture of doom actually. I cried so hard for him that I almost wished he was dead instead of having to live with that.
Honor’s pain wasn’t that secret. What happened to her was awful (not nearly as bad as what Dmitri went through though, you might not agree with me at first but wait until you get to the end of the book). She deals with it better than him, I actually found her stronger than Dmitri, she was compassionate and understanding. I liked her very much and I just wanted to see her happy. She has a lot to overcome since her ordeal was very recent, but with the help of Dmitri who never pities her and gives her the tools she needs to deal with it, and because of her great inner strength, she is able to come on top.
The book is full of violence and brutality, Singh doesn’t shy away from describing some very foul acts and even though it isn’t graphic you know what’s going on. There are no detailed descriptions of rape or anything like that, but it is clear what happens to both good and bad guys. I do not have a problem with this, but I reached my limit with the kids. I can’t stand bad things happening to children period, and in this book there’s also a baby involved. Is it gratuitous violence? No it isn’t, I felt like it was necessary to the plot, I didn’t like it but I got why it was there. Violence is a common theme in Nalini’s work and in this series in particular, this isn’t the first book where children are victims and if you are a fan then you probably know this, if you are new to the books then be warned because they are not for the faint of heart.
Now about what bothered me. I must say that I knew that Honor was Dmitri’s wife reincarnated from the get go. Before starting the book I read one review that wasn’t spoilery but had a comment that made me think what was going to happen, and the book is full of clues so by the second chapter I was sure. Because I knew this, I read the book under a different frame of mind, so when it came to the end I wasn’t really mad or surprised even though that particular plot line isn’t among my favorites. To be honest I’m glad that I knew because Dmitri was so obsessed with Ingrede that I wouldn’t have been able to actually believe that he loved Honor, he was so hung up on her that he wasn’t allowing himself to love someone else. Then there was the fact that the little snippets we get of his human life were so lovely and engaging that even I was more invested in that love story than in the one taking place in the present. Then by the time I started to feel like Dmitri actually loved Honor, she remembers her past life and almost becomes the dead wife. I was annoyed and disappointed by all this, I wanted the characters to love each other for who they were now and not because of a shared past life. In the hands of a less talented writer this could have been a disaster, in the end I do think that Dmitri loved Honor despite anything but the reincarnation aspect made the ending awkward and I found it unfair to the readers and the characters as well.
END OF SPOILER
Overall this was a great book, by a great author. There’s a lot of character growth, some of the plot’s aspects were weak including the final showdown, but I was glad I read the book. It is a very emotional story and a must read for all the fans of Nalini Singh and romantic fantasy in general. Oh, I almost forgot, Dmitri is HOT! I know the review makes it sound like he is all tortured and sad, but this guy is one of Nalini's hottest heroes ever.
Review by Brie