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REVIEW: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

SPOILER ALERT:   If you have not read Angel’s Blood, the cover and this entire review will be a spoiler.   LOOK AWAY! LOOK AWAY!!

Dear Ms. Singh:

Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh coverI’m not certain that I’ll be able to adequately articulate why I enjoyed this book so much but I did. Since the time that I received the book up in its pre-published form I have read it five times. I was forced (ha ha) to read it one more time to polish up this review.

This story is a continuation of Angel’s Blood where Raphael and Elena first meet. Elena is a Guild Hunter who ordinarily tracks and hunts vampires for the Guild.   Elena has scent discrimination skills and tracks vampires by their unique and individual scent.   Raphael hired Elena to track an archangel who had gone mad and was killing a number women across the city of New York. During their time together, Raphael and Elena fell in love and when Elena was mortally wounded, Raphael’s body produced ambrosia, a once in a lifetime event, that turned Elena from human to angel.

Archangel’s Kiss starts up a little after Angel’s Blood. A full year plus has passed.   Elena had been in a healing coma and she is newly angelic. In this story, we see Elena struggle in her transition from human to angel.   She doesn’t know the first thing about being an angel and I do mean the first thing, such as extending her wings from her body.   Raphael takes her to the Refuge, a place that only angels can reach (although vampire servants are brought there by angels).   At the Refuge, Elena at 10 school with all the angel children to learn about the history of Angels and how to hold her wings off the ground and eventually she’ll learn how to fly.

Elena   must learn quickly however because Raphael has received an invitation for the two of them to attend a ball in Elena’s honor by Lijuan, the oldest of the archangels.    This is no social event but rather a measure of Raphael’s power and a display of Lijuan’s.   Rumors abound that Lijuan is making the dead walk as the living.

So while Elena must learn to execute the most rudimentary angelic tasks such as flying she must also learn how to fight in her new body. Raphael asks members of his protective cadre, the Seven, to train her in combat.

The Refuge becomes tainted when one of Raphael’s angels is taken and tortured. Another angelic family is targeted when their child is kidnapped. Other angelic factions are being set against one another.   Initially the events seem random, or at worst, pointed toward implicating Elena.   As events escalate, Raphael sees this as a power play.    There is a power void left when Raphael killed the mad archangel in Angel’s Blood, and someone is positioning to fill that void.   Angels recognize nothing but power.

Amongst this interesting mystery plot is the continuation of the romance of Raphael and Elena. Both are learning to navigate the parameters of their new relationship. Elena is struggling to find her new identity and not be overwhelmed by Raphael.   Raphael is afraid of Elena’s fragility and contemplates his own mortality because Elena’s humanity has weakened him in some ways and strengthened him in others.

We learn more about both Raphael and Elena’s past.   What fears Raphael has for his own sanity and what demons have haunted Elena.   The worldbuilding is detailed.   Angelic houses are built to accommodate angels with wide doorways and complete drop offs.   The Refuge is a place that is only accessible to those with wings.   When you take us to China, I can almost smell the scent of the cherry blossoms.   And the book is full of beautiful people of all shades and ethnicities.

There’s some interesting and almost chilling foreshadowing when it comes to Ilium, one of Raphael’s Seven.   Elena and Ilium get along quite well and one of the other Seven suggests that Elena and Ilium’s friendship might end in Ilium’s death if he falls in love with her.   There’s a very sexy exchange between Raphael and Elena when Raphael refuses to allow Ilium to gift Elena with knives:

Teeth grazed over her lips. "Know this Elena-’you'll never wear another man's knife."

She blinked. "He wanted to give me a blade? What's wrong with that?"

"Blades," he whispered, "and sheaths go together. And your sheath will only ever hold my blade."

There is a hum of sexual tension that glides just under the text.   Raphael is waiting for Elena to fly because then she will be truly strong enough for them to mate as equals.   Before, when Elena was human, Raphael had to hold back or he would have killed her with his strength, but now that she is angel like him, he can let go.   And so Raphael waits.   The non consummation is sometimes exponentially more sexy than the act itself.

This is a full book.   I was surprised that we were given a resolution to the Lijuan issue.   It almost seemed like the story had a bonus with by tackling the issue of Lijuan and her fetish with the dead.   I’m so intrigued by this world, so captivated by Raphael and Elena, and Raphael’s Seven, that I simply cannot wait until the next Angel book.   I think your series may do for Angels what Feehan did for vampires.   A-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon (affiliate link), Kindle (non affiliate link), BooksonBoard (non affiliate link), or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

38 Comments

  1. Edie
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 04:51:26

    I was actually hesitating on whether to pick this one up or not. But I am now sold!
    Thank-you!

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  2. Mandi
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 06:07:05

    And your sheath will only ever hold my blade.”

    So Sexy.

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  3. joanne
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 06:57:08

    Oh yeah, Nalini Singh can write! I love her world and her characters and loved Elena’s interaction with the ‘baby’ angel.

    There were two issues that I had though. You liked the non consummation a lot better then I did. Foreplay is wonderful (ha) but I was feeling like Elena should smack Raphael upside the wings and say ‘let’s go, already’.

    The second was what kept pulling me out of the story and that was the similarity to Eve & Roarke in the In Death books. The similarities, including the dreams and Raphael’s’ holding her after them and several other things just gave an echo. I can’t explain it any better.

    I’m going to do a re-read this week and see if, knowing what I know, it works better for me. My copy of Angel’s Blood already needs to be replaced and I want this book to look the same.

    In ‘can’t wait’ for the next book I am in Total Agreement. I really like this series.

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  4. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 06:58:46

    Loved this book. Loved it.

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  5. Aoife
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 07:22:48

    I’m pretty indifferent to Singh’s other series, but loved Angel’s Blood, and think Archangel’s Kiss is even better. I’m impressed that Singh avoided, for the most part, going the predictable route with the world-building. Elena is more of a standard kick-butt heroine, but Raphael is not nice or cuddly, and I really, really appreciate that. I can’t wait for the next installment.

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  6. Marty
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 07:23:41

    I heart this series and devoured this book last night.

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  7. Kati
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 08:25:41

    I finished this book this morning on the way to work, and promptly sent off yet another squeeing email to Nalini.

    I think what works so well in this book is that her worldbuilding is just seamless. I never thought, “Wait, do what now?” and she never stumbles as she adds layer upon layer not just to the world, but also to the incredibly angelic politicking that goes on. There are many players in the book, but I never had an issue with keeping them straight.

    And as you referenced, Jane, the chemistry between Elena and Raphael is just…incendiary. This is my favorite read of the new year.

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  8. Diane V
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 09:29:42

    Loved “Kiss” even more than “Blood” – the relationship between Raphael and Elena is wonderful. The verbal sparring between Elena and Raphael and also between Elena and members of Raphael’s Seven is superb.

    Just loved how Raphael realized that if he used mind control on Elena for the 3rd time it would end their relationship and that he didn’t want to break her.

    Now if I could just control Nalini Singh and have an Archangel book every 6 months and the books about Raphael’s Seven over the next seven months I would be an extremely happy camper.

    I also loved how Elena was given the satisfaction of killing her childhood demon — nothing better to cure those nightmarish flashbacks.

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  9. Preeti
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 10:10:00

    Huh. You make me want to read this series. I hated Nalini Singh’s Silhouette Desires, did not understand the appeal of the Psy-Changeling books (Aoife’s “indifferent” would describe my reaction to them as well), and wouldn’t have expected this new series to be any better. But I guess I’ll take a chance. Hail to the power of enthusiastic reader reviews!

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  10. Jane
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 10:52:01

    @Preeti Oh dear. I like the Psy series so you may be indifferent to this one as well.

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  11. Sally
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 10:57:51

    Wow! Loved the first one, can’t wait to read the second!

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  12. Gwyneth Bolton
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 11:04:46

    I haven’t read it yet, but I so loved Angel’s Blood that I can’t seem to resist reading reviews of this book, spoilers and all. It would take a lot to ruin a Nalini Singh book for me anyway… LOL. I’m hooked on the Psy/Challenging series and it seems like I will be hooked on the Angels as well…

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  13. J.
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 11:39:42

    I actually ordered this online and am waiting for it to arrive. I was waiting to see a review of this too and after reading it, I’m glad I bought it. =]

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  14. Janine
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 12:11:01

    I’m going to be the voice of dissent on this one. I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I really like Elena, and I find Raphael compelling (though not as fascinating as he was in Angels’ Blood). And I also really, really enjoy the beauty of the worldbuilding and the way it contrasts with the cruelty of some of the angels.

    But… I was disappointed that the book was set almost entirely in the refuge and that none of it takes place in New York. One of the most interesting things in this series for me is Elena’s relationship with her family, and especially her father. I could not wait to see his reaction to the change she had undergone, as well as her sister’s reaction. But we didn’t get any of that in this book, and having to wait for the third book keeps this book from feeling full for me, like it did for you.

    We also didn’t get very much interaction between Elena and her Guild Hunter friends (they talked on the phone a couple of times, and that was it). I wanted more of that.

    My third point, and it astonishes me that I have not seen this mentioned in any of the reviews I’ve read, is that this book is not for the faint of heart. The violence level is very high and some of the violence (involving Elena’s flashbacks to what happened to her as a child) goes beyond disturbing to downright gruesome. My tolerance for violence isn’t that good, so this was a minus for me. You must have a really strong stomach, Jane, to be able to read it six times.

    Weighing the things I like against those I don’t like, and my feeling that Singh’s writing is above average, I would give this one a C+.

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  15. Jane
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 12:12:56

    @Janine: The violence didn’t bother me at all but then I am a huge fan of Bad Girl by Michelle Jaffe and that book has super gruesome scenes. I don’t like it when the violence is gratuitous and I never felt like it was in this book.

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  16. Janine
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 12:29:05

    Hmm… I would have to think about that more to say whether or not I agree with you.

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  17. Joanne
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 12:30:01

    @Janine: Janine did you say here that you weren’t a big fan of long series or am I dis-remembering who said it?

    I mention that because part of loving a series –my opinion– is that you don’t get everything in one book. The teasers, if they’re done right, are the carrot. Now we know that they both want to live in N.Y. so maybe there will be more set there.

    The violence didn’t bother me but I’m a huge mystery fan so gruesome comes with that territory.

    Angel’s Blood was a Triple A read for me (many didn’t agree) and this one was a B+ (many don’t agree) but I’m in for the long haul with this and the Psy series.
    JMO

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  18. Melissa
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 13:19:46

    Thanks for the great review Jane! I was debating whether to get this in paper or ebook but decided paper because I like the cover. I can’t wait to read this after I finish Larissa Ione’s Ecstacy Unveiled (which was a fun sexy read).

    Angel’s Blood was such an interesting read for me. The world that Nalini Singh created was fascinating and sometimes scary. Raphael is such a strong character, I can’t wait to see how he and Elena work out the balance in their relationship.

    I love Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changling series. I have reread the entire series multiple times. I love the romance and especially the sexy male shapeshifters like Lucas Hunter. Plus Singh writes such complex and interesting stories, each book reveals more depth to the plot and characters. Can you tell I am a big fan of hers?

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  19. Janine
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 13:24:39

    @Joanne: Yes, it’s true, I am generally not a fan of long series that follow the same main character(s), and it’s very possible that that was a factor in my reaction to the book.

    I prefer to read about new character and the teases are one of the reasons why. But I think the pleasures of getting to know new characters are another reason.

    I do enjoy long series that have different main characters in each book, like Singh’s psy/changeling series, very much.

    I liked Angels’ Blood considerably better too — I gave it a B+ — but I never completely got why Elena was so exceptional in Raphael’s eyes compared to the other warrior women he had been involved with during his millennium (or is it millennia?) of existence. What was so special and different about her?

    I still don’t completely get it and wish I did, but one thing I did get out of Archangels’ Kiss is that Raphael and Elena both have trauma in their childhoods, so perhaps on a subliminal level, that, as well as the strength they have in common, draws them together.

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  20. Elyssa Papa
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 13:36:57

    I am so excited about this book. It seems like I’ve been waiting for AK forever. And this review has just made me want to read it that much more. Bad things better not happen to Rafe and Elena in this series!

    Also, I got Bad Girl at an used book store, so yay, I’ll be reading that, too.

    Dear Author . . . you are bad for my wallet.

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  21. Helen Burgess
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 15:01:34

    I live in the UK and was very upset when I could not buy the ebook of Archangels Kiss due to “geographical restrictions”. I emailed the UK publisher (the paper book of Angels Blood goes out in March) and they will be putting out the Ebook versions as well. No time scale given but it is a lot better than poor Joey W Hill’s UK publisher who can’t extract their head out of their arse long enough to bother putting out UK ebook versions of her books.

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  22. Preeti
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 15:08:31

    @Jane: We shall see. :-)

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  23. Tamara Hogan
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 15:23:48

    “Angels’ Blood” was one of my favorite books of 2009, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this.

    I think it takes massive gonads to attempt to develop a single relationship over multiple books in a series. I don’t know what Singh’s future plans are for this series – or for this couple – but I’ll be there.

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  24. sol
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 18:22:46

    @Helen Burgess: I too live in the UK, just ordered my copy on ebay…
    these different publishing dates are so annoying!

    ReplyReply

  25. MaryK
    Feb 03, 2010 @ 23:30:21

    Phooey. Had to skip the review because my pre-ordered copy just shipped today. Saw it in Wal-Mart last night, too.

    ReplyReply

  26. Polly
    Feb 04, 2010 @ 12:13:51

    Overall, I loved the book. I really liked how the relationship between Elena and Raphael was portrayed, especially the difficulties of negotiating such an unequal balance of age, power, etc. And, I’ll admit it, books about angels–total wish fulfillment for me. Being with wings–I absolutely dig it. I love the complexity of this world, the cruelty of it, the sense of how alien the angel worldview and the human worldview are.

    And I loved that it’s really diverse world; which makes me hesitate a little to say this, but I wish Nalini Singh would use some different descriptors for people’s appearance. I’m not a big fan of “skin that speaks of the savannah,” or “skin that speaks of the hot sun.” Ugh. To me, that just reads as exoticizing. I’m glad the characters come in a range of colors (and more to the point, that their color doesn’t determine their outlook or opinions), but I wish the descriptions were a little less “lyrical.” I know race is an issue that’s come up a lot recently, and I don’t want every review to be about race, but these descriptions really jumped out at me, and not in a good way.

    I really look forward to more books in this world. And I will happily read books about the Raphael’s Seven (especially Illium, Jason, and Aodhan–please, please, please). The psy books are starting to feel a bit repetitive, but the angel books I want many more of.

    p.s. I do hope that the future books won’t keep increasing in violence and gore. I’m about at my limit with this book.

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  27. helen
    Feb 04, 2010 @ 21:37:29

    Loved LOVED LOVED this book and the first one as well. What’s really strange is I had picked up her other series a while ago and detested it, swore I’d never read another and then was flipping through the first in this series in the book store and it looked good so I put a crowbar in my pocket and bought it. Boy am I glad I did. It is almost as if the writing is by a totally different person. Excellent, full, descriptive without being wordy (the problem her other series had for me). I urge anyone who did not like her other books to give this series a chance. And anyone who hasn’t read her before to jump on this book. You won’t be disappointed.

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  28. Sarah W
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 16:01:10

    I am so glad I wasn’t the only one who saw the Eve/Roarke and Elena/Raphael connection. Honestly I like both series, but the huge similarities were very distracting, especially because it is a series as well. For that reason, I liked the first book better. I really enjoy the world of the guild hunters, and hope that other characters are focused on, so that the whole similarities to the in death series are less distracting.

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  29. Dear Author Recommends for February | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 22:53:16

    [...] Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh recommended by Jane (but Janine didn’t like it as much) [...]

  30. Jaclyn
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 22:55:44

    Nalini Singh is one of my favorite writers, and like Jane, I really enjoyed this book.

    When Raphael and Elena promise each other that if they die, they die together I got goosebumps. It probably should have been creepy, but for them…it was perfect.

    The Seven are mysterious and mysteriously sexy. Illium is so sad. And the vamp who’s poisonous–can’t recall his name–he’s got my full attention and I want to read his story.

    The one thing I haven’t reconciled is Raphael’s cruelty. Elena continually thinks about how cold/distant/unhuman Rapheal is–often referencing his torture of the vamp in Times Square during the Quiet. I believe that Raphael is strong and tough, but I have a hard time thinking of him as cruel and unfeeling.

    I still like the Psy-Changlings better. But it’s not a hardship to read about these sexy angels and vamps.

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  31. Janine
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 12:23:03

    @Preeti & helen:

    Which of the psy/changeling books did you try? I ask because the first one, Slave to Sensation, did not hook me, but eventually I tried more of them and by the third book (Caressed by Ice) I was totally on board. In many ways that series keeps getting better.

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  32. Alyna
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 15:02:51

    I’ve read the first book and really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to pick this one up after reading your review. I love the characters and the world building. Her original take on angels is very refreshing and seriously cool. My only criticism is that Elena isn’t an interesting enough heroine. Like somebody already said she’s the standard kick-butt heroine and it’s kind of hard to understand what Raphael sees in her especially since he’s such a complex character himself. I hope this installment in the series satisfies me in that regard.

    Out of all the books I’ve read by this author I found Mercy from Branded by Fire as the most interesting and likeable heroine. I read Angel’s Blood
    immediately after that maybe that’s why I was a bit disappointed with Elena. Anyway I can’t wait to read this part and I hope she quickly finishes Illium’s story cuz he seemed like a totally loveable hero.

    ReplyReply

  33. Archangels’ Kiss by N. Singh | Literary Escapism
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  34. Nicole
    Aug 12, 2010 @ 14:17:45

    @Joanne: i agree angel blood was better than this one, not by much but it was. I also have an issue with the way Raphael talks, mostly just the sexy scenes… in my opinion he should talk in a more soft way, and not as harsh… other than that i absolutely love this series, and cant wait for the rest of them to come out.

    ReplyReply

  35. Authorial Voice: the many hued definitions | Dear Author
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 17:36:40

    [...] Singh, author of the Psy/Changeling series and the Guild Hunter series: Voice, by nature, resists definition. It is that certain “something” that sets one [...]

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  37. alicia
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 07:31:56

    I totally love your books;i have no other comment than that but i have one question, will there be more books in the HUNTER GUILD series.

    ReplyReply

  38. In Darkness Bound
    May 04, 2012 @ 08:12:04

    I really loved this book and it’s predecessor (Angel’s Blood). In this one,one of my favorite scenes was when Raphael is offended that Elena would suggest he’s been unfaithful while she was out of commission.

    I’m usually squeamish about reading about blood and gore, but actually okay with it in this book.However,for rereads (since I already know what happens) I just skip the gory bits.

    Hope Bluebell gets his own book and his heroine is the reincarnation of his first love (which I admit would be similar to the twist in Archangel’s Blade),but the finding each other in another lifetime thing is so romantic!

    ReplyReply

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