Nalini Singh is special. I don’t know how she does it, but she has created two very distinct, complex worlds. I admit that the Psy/Changeling books are closer to my personal taste, but I find the Guild Hunter series very compelling, especially now that we get to see the world through a different set of characters. I’ve been intrigued by Jason since he first appeared in the previous books, and I’m happy to finally learn what makes him tick.
For those of you unfamiliar with the series, the Guild Hunter books take place in an alternate present where angels and vampires live among us in relative peace. Angels have their own society and rulers, and one archangel is in charge of each territory. Raphael, the ruler of North America, has been the protagonist of the first three books, but now we also get stories for some of his closer friends and protectors. Jason, with his dark wings and ability to blend and listen to the wind, is Raphael’s spymaster and our newest hero.
A terrible tragedy deeply affected Jason’s childhood and upbringing. As a consequence, he’s reserved, quiet and not that in touch with his feelings. In fact, he has no feelings. Or so it seems. When the archangel Neha’s consort is murdered, Raphael sends Jason to her territory to help with the investigation. Because the relationship between the archangels is complex and the political machinations abound, Jason takes a blood oath with Neha’s niece, Mahiya. This blood oath makes it impossible for him to betray or divulge Neha’s secrets, so he becomes almost part of Neha’s family. The blood oath also works as a marriage of sorts, and Jason plans to manipulate Mahiya if necessary (but not sexually manipulate her, he’s not a douche).
Mahiya is a princess that’s closer to a prisoner than to royalty. Her childhood was also marked by tragedy and her upbringing wasn’t easy. She fears for her life and in Jason she sees a way to scape. So she asks him to help her and in turn she will assist his investigation.
Who killed Neha’s consort? The answer to that question is more complex than anyone could guess and there’s a possibility it will bring war. So Mahiya and Jason must work together to find the murderer and then figure out how to avoid more tragedy. And of course they also fall in love. But Jason has issues (he’s a tortured hero, after all), so the love story won’t be that easy either.
This book was very good. I thoroughly enjoyed the Romance and the excellent characterization. Ms. Singh stays true to her characters and I was grateful, delighted, and yes, surprised. Jason isn’t an emotional character. He doesn’t know how to love, so it makes sense that he’s reluctant to fall in love with someone. The result is an interesting and unique romance. This is an author that’s not afraid to break the rules and Archangel’s Storm is an example of that. Not every reader will be happy about it, but I loved it.
Mahiya wasn’t what I expected. The angels in this series tend to be god-like and inhuman -- it’s one of the reasons why I have mixed feelings about the series. And now we have an angel that’s also a princess and related to a powerful archangel, so I was surprised when I realized she was a shy, sheltered, young woman. She had wings and immortality, but she was as vulnerable as a human, maybe even more. It was a contrast to Jason who was hard, experienced and unfeeling. Mahiya was dying to be free to love and feel. I liked her very much and it was a different type of heroine.
I thought the story was lacking in the mystery subplot. I liked the fact that the book was almost like a police procedural and I enjoyed the investigation. It was a bit obvious, but I liked it. However, the action and the ending were rushed and the execution poor. It was anticlimactic and underwhelming.
Overall this was a great addition to the series. It’s refreshing to meet new characters and to get different points of view. The setting is different and unlike anything we have seen in the series, and I loved the Romance. It doesn’t stand alone well, though, you have to be familiar with the world to fully enjoy it. So instead of recommending it as a standalone, I’ll just recommend the whole series.
Review by Brie
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.
Berkley Sensation. September 4, 2012.