by Nalini Singh
This is book 7 in the Guild Hunter series. If you haven't already been hooked into this series, it's a delightful blend of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The world is controlled by Angels and Archangels who are the progenitors of vampires. These are strictly secular angels with evolutionary rather than religious origins. And both the vampires and the angels are extremely other, not just humans with accouterments strapped to them, which I adore. What's the point of having paranormal characters if you can't tell them from mortal ones? Vampires are naturally quite dangerous creatures and so a human organization, the Guild Hunters, have set themselves up as a sort of police organization. They must work with the Angels and Archangels, as they are the powers, but the Guild is largely an independent organization. The series primarily revolves around the Archangel Raphael and Guild Hunter Elena Deveraux; however, it sidles off to explore the lives and relationships of the more integral secondary characters. In that way it is more like Eileen Wilks' World of Lupi than her Psi-Changeling series (which is another excellent series if you haven't yet been sucked in).
This is one of those series that makes me wish for a time machine so I could sit in a library and devour ALL THE BOOKS! I can't savor these on the first read; I gulp them down and save the savoring for the re-reads. And I can guarantee you that I will be re-reading any of her books. So, that being said, this book is absolutely not the place to start with this series. The mythology and the relationship backgrounds are entirely too intricate to start in the middle. Go ahead, start at the beginning, I'll wait right here :)
So, this is nominally Janvier and Ashwini's book. We already had a peak into their relationship dynamic through other books and most particularly in the novella Angel's Pawn. Ash has been notoriously reluctant to become involved with Janvier and this book gives us a bombshell about exactly why. I don't want to spoil it, but it was excellent. This is not one of those little nothing turned into BIG MISUNDERSTANDING situations that I find so exasperating. It was a serious issue, albeit one which as this is a romance we knew would be resolved.
There was a bit of a mystery and investigation involved, but it really served more as a backdrop to the politics and world building, and to giving a platform to all the main characters. It was a good plot line, but honestly, I cared much more about the characters than the suspense part this time. We got to get into plenty of our favorite characters heads, learned more about Legion, and....Naasir absolutely stole the show and has completely supplanted my wish for Ilium to be next. Ilium just isn't ready, but Naasir is, and I am oh so ready for Naasir. I can't believe I hadn't previously seen the possibilities of a tiger-like vampire. That isn't to say Janvier and Ash were sidelined, they were front and center and much of the story is devoted to them, but they are so closely tied to the families they have made that it is impossible to separate them out.
5 absolutely breathtaking stars, and if it weren't for the fact Ilona Andrews' Burn for Me is up in my que next, I'd be re-reading it tonight.