ARCHANGEL'S CONSORT (Guild Hunter #3)
Available January 25th
Received from publisher for review
Warning: Contains mild spoilers from previous books, but no spoilers from Archangel's Consort.
Elena's life has changed drastically from her life over a year ago. Then she was a hunter-born working for the Guild tracking vampires in breach of their contracts with their angel makers using her inherent gift to scent them. Now, she's an angel herself and consort to the most intimidatingly beautiful archangel she's ever seen, Raphael.
Finally returning to New York City after waking from her coma, recovering from her mortal to immortal transition, and battling another archangel who's evolved into something new entirely, Elena's ready to get back to work for the Guild despite her new angel status. Her introduction back into society isn't going to be a gradual one however.
New York City and the rest of the world are suddenly plagued by odd weather phenomenons, and the vampires normally petrified into obedience under Raphael's rule are breaking their contracts, attacking humans, and even harming themselves in inexplicable frenzies. These strange occurrences are not entirely unprecedented, but have been documented periodically as being precursors to the awakening of an ancient–an immortal so old and powerful they Sleep for millenia in an effort to maintain their sanity when such a long life usually results in madness. And this ancient is waking for one reason: she wants Raphael, her son, and she wants newly-Made Elena out of her way.
Ms. Singh's world is one of spectacular fantasy and toe-curling romance where the thoughts, feelings, and weaknesses that make us so very human are highlighted against the fascinating backdrop of the cool indifference that accompanies immortality. In this story we are given a pair of individuals separated by gender, age, and world view, but whose unexpected feelings for one another weave an unbreakable bond between them. The strength of their connection melts away their differences with a molten heat, welding their souls together as they struggle to be both teacher and student, learning from each other even when their pride would have them reject lessons from the other, and in doing so, win us over completely. The relationship between Raphael and Elena is one of the ultimate give and take between two people who are each unused to acquiescing, and watching as they take such tentative and hesitant, yet extremely passionate, steps into the unknown is a joyous experience that causes our skin to tingle as we smile at the intimacy to which we've so thankfully been granted access.
Elena is a magnificent heroine in possession of a mental and physical strength most of us will aspire to but will never attain. She has a past of darkness, bloodshed and insurmountable guilt, yet she maintains a flicker of hope that her entire family is not yet lost to her, and perhaps one day her father might not see her as an abomination but as the gift he once thought her to be. She pits the force of her personality against the icy chill of Raphael's intimidating persona with remarkable grace, standing her ground in the face of his imposing presence yet yielding when she senses his overwhelming alpha-male need to conquer has him in its iron grip. She indulges him his temporary bouts with the need to possess her, but she still manages to maintain the fierce warrior independence that attracted both Raphael and us to her initially. She is the perfect blend of formidable fighter and vulnerable woman, daughter and lover, making her a character with whom we look forward to journeying onward side by side.
Raphael is as dominant a male as they come, his centuries of life and his status as a member of the Cadre of Ten as well as the archangel of New York skyrocketing his expectation for utter obedience and subservience to unparalleled levels. He walks confidently along a lethal edge between cruelty and desire, and though we know with absolute certainty he would never physically harm Elena, his proclivity for rage against those under his rule and his demand for compliance from others always has the potential to tear their relationship apart should the darker side of his immortality overwhelm Elena's mortal heart. Though this is the third book and therefore our third exposure to the two of them, their connection still feels very new and fragile–a single gossamer thread between them vibrating dangerously with the power of their combined tempers and their mutual passion, but we have every confidence that while it may bend and stretch, it will never snap. A little of Elena's precious mortality constantly seeps into Raphael, and the fierce protectiveness and loyalty he inspires in others infects Elena as well, causing that single thread to grow into an indestructible web as we read on, one we find ourselves helpless to escape as we are immobilized by the terrifying beauty of these two immortals.
In addition to two unforgettable protagonists, Ms. Singh also as a spectacular ability to create secondary characters with scarred souls full of secrets and mysteries just waiting to be revealed, and we are ultimately as interested in their individual stories as we are Raphael and Elena's. From Illium's regal blue feathers and heartwarming friendship with Elena to Dmitri's unique ability to caress a body with intangible tendrils promising sexual decadence, we are held utterly transfixed by the brilliance of Ms. Singh's imaginings. My only wish for this story would be for a more cataclysmic reunion between Raphael and his unbelievably powerful mother, their face to face interaction lacking a little of the intensity of the buildup, but it's clear Caliane is a force to be reckoned with and we certainly have not seen the last of her–a fact that only adds to our anticipation of the next installment. For those who have yet to experience this world of archangels and mortals, drop what you're doing and find the nearest bookstore, Raphael is waiting for you.