Nalini Singh is one of my automatic ‘go to’ paranormal authors, where I know that I can be guaranteed an awesome read. I have been following her series of Guild Hunter Novels and also her Psy/Changeling Series for some time now and they are both amongst my favourite paranormal series. The Guild Hunter Series novels, the first of which was Angels’ Blood, take place on an earth where the Cadre of Ten Archangels, supported by vampires, rule across the various continents. These angels however, are far from angelic. They are thousands of years old and have become jaded in their immortality, indulging in great power games to stave off their boredom and trying to avoid the madness that can overcome them.
In Archangel’s Storm, Jason, the taciturn spymaster for Archangel Raphael, is sent on a mission to the court of Archangel Neha. Neha’s consort Eris has been murdered and her rage threatens cataclysmic devastation unless Jason uses all his skills to unearth the killer. Neha, like many of the Cadre’s Ten, is deadly and capricious and to earn her trust necessary to complete his mission, Jason is compelled to tie himself to her bloodline through a blood bond to the princess Mahiya. Jason believes that Mahija will pose no threat to his investigations. However, Mahija has secrets and an agenda of her own and neither she nor Jason is willing to trust each other. Neha’s court is dangerous however, and there is a great deal more than politics at play as the body count continues to rise. As Jason and Mahija are thrown together they are blindsided by an unexpected passion they feel for one another. Yet can Jason, who has kept his emotions tightly controlled after a horrific childhood experience, find it within himself to let Mahija in, and will Mahija survive the machinations of the Archangel and her court and other dark forces that are at play?
Mahija and Jason, like all of the author’s heroines and heroes are a great couple. Mahija has been abused both physically and mentally by Neha, her aunt. Her crime being that she was born out of a liaison between Neha’s sister Nivriti and Neha’s consort Eris. Neha murdered Nivriti as soon as she birthed Mahija, who has paid for her mother’s sin on many occasions. Despite her tortured past, she has not allowed her aunt to poison her mind. Indeed, she has an inner strength and optimism, despite her outward facade of compliance, which many see as weakness. Jason soon sees through this outward show however and connects with the strong but vulnerable woman within.
Such was the extent of Jason’s childhood trauma, that he has closed his mind to any close emotional attachments. He tells Mahija that he can never offer her a long term relationship. However, I loved that Mahija little by little, through her acceptance of what Jason was willing to give, managed to break down the barriers that he had put up for his own protection. It was beautiful to watch how the relationship developed between them and there were plenty of sensual and erotic lovemaking scenes, which the author excels in.
I also enjoyed the character of the Archangel Neha, who we meet in previous books. Although not at all likable, she is complex and unpredictable, with her own code of honour, which Jason and Mahija must play on to survive. It was also gratifying to meet other characters integral to the Guild Hunter world, such as Archangel Raphael and his consort Elena, the vampire Dmitri and his new wife, the Guild Hunter Honor and other characters such as the vampire Venom.
Nalini Singh has a fantastic ability to create a beautiful love story at the heart of each of her Guild Hunter novels, setting them within the framework of the overall story arc, neither of which detracts from the other. Her novels also contain vivid and beautiful descriptions of the magical world she creates. In this novel, for example, many of the buildings comprising Neha’s court she has based on forts in Rajasthan, India. This beauty contrasts vividly with the violence which she does not shy away from featuring in great detail. Her descriptions of broken bones, blood and internal organs ripped from body cavities is not for the squeamish, but reflect events which can occur in the world she has created.
I recommend this novel for lovers of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Whilst I feel that it could be read as a ‘standalone’, the reader would gain maximum enjoyment by reading the Guild Hunter Series novels in sequence.
Cover art by kind permission of Patrick Knowles