Pros: Wild characters, plenty of plot progression, lush landscape
Rating: 5 out of 5
Archangel’s Enigma (A Guild Hunter Novel)–Book 8–delves into the enigma that is Naasir, one of archangel Raphael’s seven closest friends and colleagues. Most people believe him to be some odd sort of vampire, but those who know him best realize he’s something more. Most of them don’t know just how unusual he really is, a half-wild creature with animalistic instincts. He’s about six hundred years old and having seen some of his friends take mates now wants one of his own. But he knows he needs another wild creature who can take him on his own terms. Unfortunately, he’ll have to delay his hunt while he accompanies a young angelic scholar on a vitally important mission (she couldn’t possibly be his mate, because she’s taken a vow of celibacy, and no mate of his would have ever done something so silly). Lijuan, the Archangel of Death, is believed to be looking for the Sleeping place of the Ancient Alexander so she can slay him while he’s vulnerable. Andromeda, who has studied Alexander extensively, is believed to be the best hope of finding this place. It’s Naasir’s job to protect her while they both try to find it. Unfortunately, Lijuan is one step ahead of them–she has Andi kidnapped before their journey even begins.
Naasir and Andromeda may occupy the main plotline, but we still get to peek in on our old friends and the overarching plotline. Lijuan’s ongoing devolution is bloodily explored, as is Illium’s too-soon possible ascension to archangel status. There’s a legendary Grimoire to be found, and a blood vow Andi’s parents made on her behalf to be overcome. Soon she’s to go to her grandfather Charisemnon’s court and serve there for 500 years. He’s an evil, horrifying power who enjoys torture and death. If she doesn’t participate, she’ll become a victim herself. And she can’t possible let him find out about her growing feelings for Naasir, so she’ll be torn away from her maybe-mate for those 500 years.
Both Naasir and Andi are great characters. Each has unexpected layers to them. Naasir has learned to wear a skin of civility when needed, but wants a mate who can match and accept his inner wildness. Andi is a devoted scholar, but she also loves to wield a blade and does so with far more skill than Naasir could expect. Her own wild inner nature may well be a match to his own.
The landscapes they travel are lush and vivid. We get to explore from the skies of New York to the angelic Refuge, Africa, and beyond. As always with Singh’s writing it’s easy to visualize the setting and the people. Also, while much of the Guild Hunter series follows the standard erotic romance series trope in which each book covers a new pair of characters within the same setting, Singh’s books build on a great ongoing plot as well as a web of friendships and relationships between all of the characters. It helps to keep things interesting, building the new while remaining grounded in the old.