Review: “Archangel’s Shadows,” Nalini Singh

Pros: Beautiful story
Cons: A bit of a sexual conundrum
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Archangel’s Shadows (A Guild Hunter Novel, Book 7) delves into the erotically charged, headstrong relationship between Guild Hunter Ashwini and vampire Janvier. They’ve been alternately flirting with and hating each other for several years now, and while Janvier is certain she’s the one for him, she believes she carries a secret that means they can never be together. For the moment, however, they’re stuck with each other. Mysterious bodies have started showing up–first animals, now a human, as dessicated husks of their former selves. Meanwhile, a new drug targeted at rich vampires with nothing better to do threatens to destabilize the precious post-war peace of New York. Ash and Janvier are tasked with solving the first of these problems, and find themselves inevitably bumping up against the second. They need to take care of things quickly, before any of the other archangels see them as weak and easy to conquer.

As usual, Singh brings a beautiful world to life. Make sure you’re already familiar with it, because there’s a lot going on. Fans of the series will finally get to see these two together, while also keeping up with Elena and Raphael as Raphael’s enormously powerful, and alien, mother comes to visit. We get to find out more about the mysterious Legion. I particularly like the characters of Ash and Janvier; they’re both snarky, strong, and deadly. They work very well together despite their differences. They make natural partners which is fun to watch, and their chemistry is outstanding.

There’s just one problem. In the wake of the recent #metoo campaign, I find myself much more aware of instances of sexual harassment, pressure, and so on, in which one party doesn’t respect the other’s boundaries. And the truth is, Janvier pressures Ashwini in all sorts of ways that for most people would be totally unacceptable. It works for me in this book, because the characters have so much past history, ongoing flirtation on both sides, and deeper caring for each other:

…when they’d spoken so many times, trusted one another so deeply.

It also makes a huge difference to me that when the ultimate seduction occurs, she’s the one who instigates it. As much as he pushes her boundaries, he also in a strange way respects them. I also understand that some readers will want the fantasy of having to be pushed past their own boundaries.

That said, it’s a fine line, and I’m sure there will be readers on both sides of it. You know your own tolerances, so take this into account when you decide whether you want to read this book or not.

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