Wednesday, 22 February 2017

#CBR9 Book 11: "Archangel's Heart" by Nalini Singh

Page count: 396 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is book 9 in a series. It's really not the place to start. If you want to join in at the beginning, start with Angels' Blood.

Two years have passed since the last book in the series, and Elena is slowly growing stronger, even though she's virtually a baby in angel terms. The Cascade seems to be on hold, and all the archangels are trying to investigate what exactly is going on in China in the murderous Lijuan's territory. Has she gone to ground, into (hopefully) centuries long sleep? Her generals claim she's still very much in power, but the amount of uncontrolled vampire activity in her lands seems to suggest otherwise.

Raphael and the other archangels are summoned to Morocco, to the legendary compound of Lumia, where an ancient and independent order of angels called the Luminata rule. When such a summons comes, no archangel can refuse. As his consort, Elena naturally comes as well, and they also bring the still emotionally vulnerable Aodhan with them as security. While the Cadre of archangels meet to discuss what to do about Lijuan and her territory, Elena and Aodhan investigate Lumia, and come to the conclusion that something is seriously wrong there. Strangely, it may have something to do with Elena's past, and truths she never suspected about her family.

I've been reading this series for a long time now. Unlike some fans, who seem to adore the Raphael and Elena-focused books, I tend to much prefer the ones that focus on other couples. Raphael and Elena have already found their HEA and while it's nice to check in with them and see that they're still incredibly devoted to one another, this book especially felt a bit insubstantial. It's a bridging book while Singh gets around to figuring out what's going to happen with the upcoming Cascade and its repercussions.

If you're looking for some sort of analysis of character development or the like, look elsewhere. There really isn't much. Raphael is still very protective. Elena is fierce. They adore each other. Everyone is still worried about Aodhan, without actually revealing what sort of horrors he lived through that traumatised him so. Oh yeah, and he of all the freakishly beautiful angels he is especially stunning, since he looks like he's covered in crushed diamonds (I'm pretty sure that would be more distracting to look at than pretty, but what do I know?) Raphael's mother has a voice that can spellbind mortals and angels if she feels like it. Hannah the angel consort is nice, Michaela is still a total beyotch. No one knows if she's been pregnant or not. 

Possibly because this book felt more filler than some others, I was once again struck by how incredibly, inhumanly attractive absolutely everyone in this world is. With so many freakishly attractive supernaturals existing around them, ordinary humans must have to wear extra strength sunglasses just to not be blinded by the gorgeousness of every angel, vampire or other supernatural creature they see. Seriously, no one appears to be ugly in this world, at least not appearance-wise. I'd love it for Singh to write a book about a plain-looking or slightly chubby supernatural soon. But no, it appears it's going to be the snake guy and the traumatised vampire attack victim.

Judging a book by its cover: As all of these books that feature Raphael and Elena, the cover has an illustration of Elena, with her distinctive multi-coloured wings, her long pale hair and her arsenal of weapons. This time, she's wearing a sparkly formal gown and looking murderous (which considering her discoveries in the book is not all that surprising. There's certainly no doubt to anyone seeing this cover that it's an urban/paranormal fantasy novel.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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