a review by Nalini Haynes
The Guild Hunter is Elena, a vampire hunter born not trained, so she is a little more than human. This brings extra abilities as well as weakness. As a hunter Elena belongs to the Guild, whose director is Sara, Elena’s best friend. Sara is married to Deacon and they have a baby Zoe. Ransom is another hunter, a close friend of Elena’s.
In this alternate world, archangels rule angels who rule vampires. Humans are also ruled by the archangels but it appears their relationships to the angel hierarchy is similar to that of the average person to movie stars. Vampires have been reimagined but do not sparkle. After capturing one vampire and delivering him, Elena finds that she has been engaged by Raphael, archangel of New York, to hunt another archangel, one who has crossed a line. Raphael is secretive and dangerous. His vampire minions are even more so, threatening Elena. Raphael is dangerously attracted to Elena, becoming a threat to himself and their goals.
This is an action romance somewhat in the vein of Romancing the Stone but with paranormal beings. The romance includes explicit sexual content more in the line of True Blood, but I personally felt that the content of Angel’s Blood was more sexy and less like animals rutting as in the first disc of True Blood (I need to revisit True Blood to see if it improved).
The characters begin with rich back stories, so much so I checked to see if this was really the first in the series. Singh develops her characters well, without falling into the trap of making them shallow or caricatures. The action is well-paced right up until the dramatic climax.
Spoiler alert for book one! In Archangel’s Kiss Elena wakes up after a year in a coma to find that Raphael’s kiss didn’t turn her into a vampire, it turned her into an angel. Elena has to retrain as a hunter, strengthen the muscles in her wings and then learn to fly – all on a time constraint because Lijuan, the oldest archangel, has invited Elena and Raphael to a ball held in Elena’s honour. Elena cannot refuse without giving offence and appearing weak, so she trains hard.
Archangel politics make it difficult to determine who is the culprit when Elena and a vampire are attacked and an angel child is stolen. The search for the child was brief, but the search for the mastermind behind the attacks takes longer.
The sexual tension does not abate in this book. If anything I grew frustrated with the sex scenes being interspersed with the story as they started to feel like ad breaks. The sex scenes are as explicit if not more so than in the first book because Elena and Raphael have moved into the physical aspect of their relationship. This continues through to the next book. I prefer sexual tension underlying character development and a faster moving plot to explicit sex scenes. Readers are free to write in, criticise my review and applaud Singh’s style; Dark Matter wants more letters!
Apart from that one frustration, Kiss is well-paced and moves through to the climax fluently. The penultimate battle at the end could have had more emphasis; it was far too brief in my opinion.
In Archangel’s Consort Elena is called to the scene of grisly murders in order to discover that someone, possibly Raphael’s mother, is causing supernatural havoc in the world. It also appears Elena is being intentionally targetted by this person. Raphael is hunting for his mother’s sleeping place in an attempt to circumvent catastrophe.
Spoiler alert for book two! Lijuan was attacked by all the other archangels and her physical being was ‘killed’ at the end of Archangel’s Kiss, but Lijuan lived as a non-corporeal being due to her evolution. Early in Archangel’s Consort it is revealed that Lijuan has taken up a corporeal form once again by choice. This really peeved me as Lijuan had been painted as someone who was so bored with her endless existence that change would have been welcome. I felt that while it was inevitable for Lijuan to return and meddle, this should have taken quite some time while she explored the endless possibilities of her new powers and non-corporeal form. Other series have dabbled with this idea, including Stargate SG1 with Daniel Jackson and Angel with Cordelia. Neither series handled it well in my opinion, and any author needs to approach this concept with extreme caution.
Supporting characters are diverse in nature and all have their flaws, which prevents them from becoming two dimensional. It appears Singh has plans to develop them further in this story arc.
The Guild Hunter series is recommended for paranormal romance readers who enjoy action beyond that of soapie dramas. The explicit content would definitely give this book a rating of MA, however, so it is not for young readers.
This article was previously published in Dark Matter issue 3, April 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.