Genre: Urban Fantasy

Sunday Spotlight: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 16, 2017 by Holly in Features | 1 Comment

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I came late to the Kate Daniels series. Though it had been recommended to me for years, I didn’t read much urban fantasy and skipped it. I’m so sorry I waited so long to start it. A friend suggested I reserve judgement until book two, Magic Burns, as Magic Bites (book 1) wasn’t nearly as good. Having now read the series, I agree. This week I’m spotlighting Magic Burns. While I think it’s necessary for the world-building to read book one, I highly suggest reserving judgement until book two.

Sunday Spotlight: Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsMagic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #2
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9), Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: April 1 2008
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
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Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…
As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.
When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

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Some series are made by the hero, or the heroine, or the world. This series is a combination of all of that, and then some. Kate Daniels is an amazing, kick-ass heroine. Curran is an excellent hero, and the perfect counterpart for her. The world – where magic comes in waves and knocks out tech – is fabulously drawn. The secondary characters are engaging and interesting. There is no part of this series that doesn’t work, and work well. If you haven’t, you really must read it.

Excerpt

Kate is a serious badass. She kicks asses and takes names all day long.

Jim raised his hand and touched his fingers to his thumb a few times, imitating an opening and closing beak. Negotiate. He wanted me to engage a lunatic who had already turned four people into smoking meat. Okay. I could do that. “Alright, Jeremy!” I yelled into the night. “Give me the salamander and I won’t cut your head off!

They kept coming, enclosing me in a tight ring of flesh. I killed without comprehension, not knowing whom I had dispatched to the cauldron’s depths. They were shapes, obstacles in my way to Morfran, and like a well-tuned machine, I mowed them down, unthinking, unrepentant. Every maneuver I tried worked. Every cut found its victim. A curious elation came over me—they were so many and I hoped they wouldn’t end. This was what I was born for. I could go on killing forever.

Her romance with Curran, the Beast Lord, develops slowly over several books, but it’s extremely satisfying.

“He handed me a bowl of soup, that’s as far as we got.”

“He fed you?” Raphael stopped rubbing Andrea.

“How did this happen?” Aunt B stared at me. “Be very precise, this is important.”

“He didn’t actually feed me. I was injured and he handed me a bowl of chicken soup. Actually I think he handed me two or three. And he called me an idiot.”

“Did you accept?” Aunt B asked.

“Yes. I was starving. Why are the three of you looking at me like that?”

“For crying out loud.” Andrea set her cup down, spilling some tea.

“The Beast Lord’s feeding you soup. Think about that for a second.”

I moved to shake his hand and he reversed it and kissed my fingers instead, singeing me with a look that was pure smolder.

I took my hand back. “That woke me up.”

He smiled a picture-perfect smile. “Been a while?”

For some reason, I felt like answering. “Two years. And if you could tone down that smile, I’d appreciate it. Getting weak in the knees.”

Is Curran serious?” Aunt B asked. She wanted to know if she now had to walk on eggshells around me. For once, I was happy to disappoint.

“No, he’s just being an asshole. Apparently every time he calls me ‘baby,’ I look like a red-hot poker is stuck up my butt. Causes him no end of fun.”


Seriously. Read the series.

Kate Daniels

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About the Author


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Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children, and many dogs and cats. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.

Review: Murdered Gods by Marina Finlayson

Posted April 3, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Murdered Gods by Marina FinlaysonReviewer: Holly
Murdered Gods by Marina Finlayson
Series: Shadows of the Immortals #2
Also in this series: Stolen Magic
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: December 15th, 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 168
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two-half-stars

Lexi didn’t set out to steal a god’s ring, but when a magic artifact starts trying to talk to you, what’s a girl supposed to do? She’s always had the ability to talk to animals, but this new development amps up the crazy. Now she’s afraid her power is out of control and she’s losing her mind.

The only person who could possibly reassure her that she’s not going mad is her mother, who has always refused to discuss the source of Lexi’s strange ability. Now that the jewellery is getting chatty, maybe she’ll finally spill the beans.

Unfortunately, going home means a trip back to the human territories, and Lexi only just made it out of there alive last time. She’s hoping for a quick visit, but with a god hellbent on retrieving the ring and a fireshaper she might have accidentally betrayed on her tail, life is about to get horribly complicated—for her and everyone she cares about.

This book picks up right where book one, Stolen Magic, ends. Lexi stole a ring from a powerful Fire Shaper that sings to her. She doesn’t know why it feels so familiar and calls to her, but she wants to ask her mother. She takes the ring and heads for the city, hoping to get some questions answered and clear up some of the confusion she’s feeling. Except along the way she steals a truck from a shifter friend, lies about why she needs it and has to battle Cerberus because she pissed off Hades.   I liked Stolen Magic more. This book opens more questions than it answers and it ended up feeling like a partial story. Since this book and the first one both end in a cliffhanger, I guess it was kind of the middle of the story.

The overall storyarc is intriguing, but getting the story in parts like this is frustrating.

two-half-stars

Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Posted March 20, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Silence Fallen by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Holly
Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, #10
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Moon Called, Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)

Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 371
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four-half-stars

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy's bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she'll learn what it truly means to be alone...
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise...

Mercy runs to the local convenience store for some last minute baking items when she’s run off the road and kidnapped. She wakes alone, in Europe, with no way to contact the pack. Mercy is no stranger to saving herself, but she’s never been completely alone and cutoff from everyone she knows and loves.

When Adam discovers Mercy’s wrecked vehicle and can’t contact her through their mating bond or by more mundane means, he nearly loses it. Thankfully cooler heads prevail and the pack starts hunting for Mercy. Once they realize she’s been whisked away to Europe as some kind of power-play between the vampires, Adam is able to settle enough to make plans to retrieve her. Unfortunately, Mercy escapes before he’s able to get to her. But Adam trusts Mercy to take care of himself, so he continues on his diplomatic trip to see the Master of Milan.

In the meantime Mercy finds herself in Prague, dealing with a Golem and a not-quite-enemy werewolf alpha who grants her sanctuary, but seems to have a vampire problem himself.

More from Adam’s POV!!

We have to hunt, Adam whispered to the wild spirit who shared his body, the wild spirit he both despised and gloried in. We have to hunt, find Mercy, and destroy the one who took her from us. And teach them that Mercy is ours.
And inside him, the wolf paused, considering Adam’s argument. After a moment, the beast agreed.

One of the things I love best about this series is the progression of the relationship between Mercy and Adam. They’re a solid couple who rely on each other, but also trust one another enough that they don’t need to live in each other’s pockets. Now that things have settled down with Mercy and the pack, the strength of their relationship really shines through.

Briggs took us into Adam and another’s points-of-view, which was a nice change from the previous books. I feel like we got a better sense of Mercy for having seen her from an outside perspective (the books are generally told first person from Mercy’s point-of-view). This from Marsilia, Mistress of the local vampire seethe, especially stood out for me.

“It doesn’t do to underestimate Mercedes, Jacob, something that I had to learn, too. Did she give you the spiel she likes to bring out now and again, about how she’s mostly no more powerful than the average human? It is a most effective speech because I think she actually believes it.”

We learned quite a bit about Bran and Mercy in this book. It was good to get another perspective when it comes to some of the relationships Mercy has formed. We see more how Marsilia, Bran, and others view Mercy.

“Bran could not love Mercy more if she were his own daughter. He’s funny about family. The last person who hurt one of his children was his own mother … you do know the story of Beowulf?”

Although the tone of the series tends to be kind of dark, there’s some levity. I actually laughed out loud a few times.

“So,” he said softly, “where is your pet werewolf whose job it was … to keep Mercy here, I think you said?”
There was a pause, then the beautiful male vampire to his left said, a hint of amusement in his voice, “She was hit by a bus and is currently recovering.”
And just that easily, Adam’s equanimity was restored.
Adam nodded. “People who stand in the way of my mate’s ability to get herself out of trouble often feel like they were hit by buses. I think this might be the first time it is literally true, though.”

The story jumps around quite a bit and Briggs does a lot more head-hopping than usual, but it really worked. The story was gripping. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars

Sunday Spotlight: Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Posted March 19, 2017 by Holly in Features | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Patricia Briggs is a fabulous talent. I absolutely adore her writing. Silence Fallen brings us back to the world of Mercy Thompson and her mate, Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack, Adam Hauptman. Silence Fallen is unique because 1) Mercy ends up alone in Europe without any of her allies or friends and 2) we see the story not just from Mercy’s point-of-view, but also that of Adam and another character. There’s a lot of humor, despite the tension, and there was even a surprise character at the end I didn’t recognize.

Sunday Spotlight: Silence Fallen by Patricia BriggsSilence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, #10
Also in this series: Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10), Moon Called, Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)

Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 371
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy's bond with the pack and her mate is broken, she'll learn what it truly means to be alone...
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe...
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise...

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This excerpt comes from chapter one.

Excerpt

I died first so I made the cookies.

They were popular fare so I needed to make a lot. Darryl had gotten me a jumbo-sized antique mixing bowl last Christmas that probably could have held the water supply for an elephant for a day. I don’t know where he found it. If I ever filled it entirely, I’d have to have one of the werewolves move it. It ate the eighteen cups of flour I dumped into it with room for more, all the while piratical howls rose up the stairway from the bowels of the basement.

My smaller mixing bowl, the one that had been perfectly adequate until I married into a werewolf clan, I filled with softened butter, brown sugar and vanilla. As I mixed them together, I decided that it wasn’t that I was a bad pirate, it was that I had miscalculated. By baking sugar-and-chocolate laden food whenever I died first, I’d succeeded in turning myself into a target.

The stove was at temperature, I found all four cookie sheets in the narrow cabinet that they belonged in–a miracle. I wasn’t the only one who got KP duty in the house, but I seemed to be the only one who could put things in the same place (where they belonged) on a regular basis. The baking pans, in particular, got shoved all sorts of odd places. I had once found one of them in the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t ask–but I washed that motherhumper with bleach before I used it to bake on again.

I thought I was good to go when I found the baking pans. But when I opened the cupboard where there should have been ten bags of chocolate chips, there were only six. I searched the kitchen and came up with another one in the top cupboard behind the spaghetti noodles which made seven. Seven bags of chips was leaner than I liked for a double-quadruple batch, but it would do.

What would not do, was no eggs. And there were no eggs.

I scrounged through the fridge for the second time, checking out the back corners and behind the milk where things liked to hide. But even though I’d gotten four dozen eggs two days ago, there was not an egg to be had.

There were perils in living in the defacto clubhouse of a werewolf pack. Thawing roasts in the fridge required the hiding skills of a WWII French Underground spy working as a secretary in NAZI headquarters.

That same egg-and-roast-stealing werewolf pack was currently downstairs enthralled in games of piracy on the high seas of the computer screen. There was irony in how much they loved the pirate computer game–werewolves are too dense to swim. Coyotes, even coyote shifters like me, can swim just fine–except, apparently in an Instant Spoils: The Dread Pirate’s Booty scenario because I’d drowned four times this month.

I hadn’t drowned this time, though. This time, I’d died with my stepdaughter’s knife in my back.

“I’m headed to the Stop and Rob,” I called downstairs. “Does anyone need anything?”

It wasn’t really called that, of course, it had a perfectly normal name that I couldn’t remember. “Stop and Rob” was more of a general term for a 24-hour gas and convenience store, a sobriquet earned in the days when the night shift clerk had been left on his or her own with a till full of thousands of dollars. Technology–cameras, quick-drop safes that didn’t open until daylight, and silent alarms had made working the night shift safer, but they’d always be Stop and Robs to me.

“Ahrrrr,” said my husband Adam’s voice, traveling up the stairs. “Gold and women and grog!” He didn’t play often, but when he did, he played full-throttle and immersed.

“Gold and women and grog!” echoed a chorus of men’s voices.

“Ah, listen to them,” said Mary Jo scornfully. “Give me a man who knows what to do, instead of these scallywags who run at the first site of a real woman.”

“Ahrrrr,” agreed Auriele while Jesse, my stepdaughter giggled.

“Swab the decks, ye lubbers, lest you slid in the blood and crack your four-pounders,” I called. “And whate’er ye do, don’t trust Jesse at your back.”

There was a roar of general agreement and Jesse giggled again.

“And Adam,” I said, “you can have gold and you can have grog. You go after another woman and you’ll be pulling back a stub.”

There was a little silence.

“Argh,” said Adam. “I got me a woman. What do I need with more? The women are for my men!”

“Argh!” roared his men. “Bring us gold, grog and women!”

“Men!” said Auriele sweet-voiced. “Bring us a few good men.”

“Stupidheads,” growled Honey. “Die!”

There was a general outcry because, apparently, someone had.

I took Adam’s SUV. I was going to have to figure out what to do for a daily driver. My precious Vanagon Syncro was getting far too many miles put on her and her transmission was rare and more precious than gold on the secondary market. I’d been driving her ever since my poor Rabbit was totaled, and the van was starting to need more and more repairs. I’d looked at an ‘87 Jetta with a blown engine last week. They wanted too much for it, but maybe I’d just have to pony up.

The SUV purred the couple of miles to the convenience store that was ten miles closer to home than any other store that was open at this hour of the night. The clerk was restocking cigarettes and didn’t look up as I passed him.
I picked up two dozen over-priced eggs and an equally overpriced bag of chocolate chips and set them on the counter. The clerk turned away from the cigarettes, looked at me and froze. He swallowed hard and looked away–scanning the barcodes on the eggs with a hand that shook so much that he might save me the effort of cracking the shells myself.

“You must be new?” I suggested running my ATM card in the reader.

He knew who I was without knowing anything important. I found the limelight disconcerting, but I was slowly getting used to it. My husband was Alpha of the local pack, he’d been a household name in the Tri-Cities since the werewolves first admitted their existence a few years ago. When we’d married, I’d gotten a little of his reflected glory, but after helping to fight a troll on the Cable Bridge a couple of months ago–I was at least as well known as Adam. People reacted differently to the reality of werewolves in the world. Sensible people stayed a certain length back. Others were stupidly friendly or not-so-stupidly afraid. The new guy obviously belonged to the latter group.

“Started last week,” the clerk muttered as he bagged the chocolate chips and eggs as if they might bite him.
“I’m not a werewolf,” I told him. “You don’t have anything to fear from me. And my husband has put a moratorium on killing gas station clerks this week.”

The clerk blinked at me.

“None of the pack will hurt you,” I clarified, reminding myself not to try to be funny around people who were too scared to know I was joking. “If there’s ever any trouble you can call us–” I found the card holder in my purse and gave him one of the pack’s cards, printed on off-white cardstock “-at this number. We’ll take care of it.”
We all carried the cards now that we’d (my fault) taken on the task of policing the supernatural community of the Tri-Cities, protecting the human citizens from things that go bump in the night. We’d also been called in to find lost children, dogs and, once, two calves and their guard llama. Zack had composed a song for that one. I hadn’t even known he could play guitar.

Sometimes the job of protecting the Tri-Cities was more glamorous than others. The livestock call, in addition to being musically commemorated, had actually been something of a PR coup, photos of werewolves herding small lost calves back home had gone viral on Facebook.

The clerk took the card as if it was going to bite him. “Okay,” he lied.

I couldn’t do any better than that, so I left with my cookie making ingredients. I hopped into the SUV and set the bag on the passenger seat as I backed out of the parking space. In retrospect, I wondered if his strong reaction might be due to something that had happened to him–a personal incident. I looked both ways before hopping out onto the road. Maybe I should go talk to him again.

I was still worrying about the clerk when there was a loud noise that robbed my breath. The bag with the eggs in it flew off the seat and hit me with a loud bang and foul smell–and then there was a sharp pain followed by…nothing.

#

I think I woke up several times, for no more than a few minutes that ended abruptly when I moved. I heard people talking, mostly men’s voices but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

When I finally opened my eyes, I couldn’t see anything. I might not have been a werewolf, but a shapeshifting coyote could still see okay in very dim light. Either I was blind or wherever I was had no light at all.

My head hurt, my nose hurt, and my right shoulder felt bruised. My mouth was dry and tasted bad, as if I’d gone for a week without brushing my teeth. It felt like I’d just been hit by a troll–though the right shoulder pain was more of a seatbelt in a car thing. But I couldn’t remember…even as that thought registered, memories came trickling back.

The run to our local Stop and Rob–the same all night gas station slash convenience store where I’d first met lone and gay werewolf Warren all those years ago. Warren had worked out rather well for the pack…I gathered my wandering thoughts and herded them down a track that might do some good. The difficulty I had doing that–and the nasty headache made me think I might have a concussion.

I considered the loud bang and the eggs and realized that it hadn’t been the eggs that had exploded and smelled bad, but the SUV’s airbags. I was a mechanic. I knew what blown airbags smelled like, I don’t know what odd effect of shock made me think it might have been the eggs. The suddenness of the accident had combined the related events of the groceries hitting me and the airbag hitting me into a cause and effect that didn’t exist.

As my thoughts slowly achieved clearness, I realized that the SUV had been struck from the side. Struck at speed to have such a great effect.

I took stock of my situation without moving. My face was sore–a separate and lesser pain than the headache–and diagnosed the situation as with having been hit with an airbag or two that didn’t quite save me from a concussion or its near cousin. The sore right shoulder, was just where the seatbelt would have grabbed me.

Probably all of my pain was from the accident…car wreck, I supposed, because I was pretty sure it hadn’t been an accident. The vehicle that hit me hadn’t had its headlights on–and if it had been a real accident, I’d be in the hospital instead of wherever I was.

My body was convinced it was a room-sized space despite the pitch-darkness. The floor was…odd. Cool–almost cold–and smooth under my cheek. The coolness felt good on my face, but it was robbing my body of warmth. Metal. It didn’t smell familiar–didn’t smell strongly of anything or anybody, as if it had been a long time since it was put to use or it was new.

A door popped open while I was trying to figure out where I was. A light clicked on, making all of my speculations useless because illumination was suddenly effortless. I was in a room that looked like a walk-in freezer–all shiny silver surfaces. I’d jerked when the door opened so it was no good trying to pretend to be unconscious. The next best thing would be to face whoever it was on my own two feet.

I rolled over in preparation for doing that very thing, but before I could do more, I had a sudden and unexpected bout of dry heaves that did my head no good at all. When I lifted my head and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, I noted that there were two men standing in the doorway frowning at me. Neither had made any move to help–or, at least that I noticed, reacted at all.

I dry heaved a couple of extra times to give myself a chance to examine the invaders of my walk-in freezer cell.
The nearest man was tuxedo-model beautiful, with dark curling hair, liquid brown eyes and a thousand dollar suit that managed to show off the muscles beneath without doing anything so crass as being tight anywhere. There was something predatory in his gaze and he had that spark that made one man more dominant than another without a word being said.

I’d been raised by werewolves, I knew an Alpha personality when I was in its presence.

The other man was at least fifty pounds heavier and three inches taller with a face that belonged to a boxer or a dockworker. His nose had been broken a few times and over his left eye was the sort of scar that you got when someone punched you in the eye and the skin around the socket split.

His eyes were brown, too, but they were ordinary eyes except for the expression in them. Something very cold and hungry looked out at me. He wore worn jeans and a tight fitting Henley-style shirt.

Visually, I could have been dropped into a scene in some Italian gangster movie. There was no mistaking the Mediterranean origins of either one.

My nose told me the real story. Vampires.


Mercy Thompson

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Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

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Patricia Briggs is the author of the New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series. She lives in Washington state with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses.

Joint Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

Posted March 16, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #2
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Angels' Blood
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: February 2nd 2010
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 323
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her world of angelic rulers, vampiric servants, and the woman thrust into their darkly seductive world...

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.

They've barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

Archangel’s Kiss is the second book in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh and it’s also the second book that Holly and I picked to review together in the month of February.

At the end of Angels’ Blood, Elena is turned into an angel and Archangel’s Kiss starts after she wakes up and is trying to get comfortable in her new reality. She’s weak as hell and not used to sucking so much at something. Being an angel is hard work and her wings hurt like a bitch. She’s got to toughen up soon because Lijuan, the most ancient living archangel, is throwing a ball and she has to attend and be able to fight dirty like all of the other archangels.

While Elena is trying to learn how to fight like an angel without passing out, someone is out torturing people. Killing, kidnapping and burning people up. Raphael has Elena hunting down leads and using her Guild Hunting skills to help find who is responsible for all the madness going on. Needless to say, Elena is busy and with the ball looming and Lijuan playing head games with Elena, using her dead family to get to her, Elena needs to work fast.

Rowena: It took me a long ass time to read this book but boy am I glad that I stuck with it. The beginning was rather slow but the last 2/3 of the book more than made up for that. I enjoyed this one. What did you think?

Holly: It took me awhile to get into this one, too. The first 1/3 moves really slow. Like you, I’m glad I stuck with it. I love Elena and Raphael.

Rowena: I do, too. I really like that Raphael is trying to be better for her. He’s trying to understand her and make things easier for her. Their relationship is my favorite thing about this book. I love how confident he is in her ability to stand up to the likes of Michaela and Lijuan even though they’re much more powerful than she is but he’s also got her back. There isn’t anything that he doesn’t love about her and man, I just really dig that.

Holly: Elena is seriously kickass. The fact that she can hold her own with Archangels? I have a serious girl crush on her. I like that she recognizes she isn’t Raphael’s equal (how could she be, when he’s 1000’s of years old and she’s barely immortal?), yet she doesn’t give in to him or let him walk all over her.

That Raphael allows her to be herself while stifling his protective instincts is no small thing. I love that he slowly comes to realize that forcing her to submit to him – or worse, taking her choices away completely – will eventually rob him of what he loves most about her.

Rowena: Yes. You should dress up like her for Halloween. That would be awesome.

Holly: I just might.

Rowena: It took me a while to get up to speed with who everyone is again since it’s been a while since I read Angels Blood. I remember Jason though. I’m mighty curious about him. I love Bluebell and Sara and Deacon and Zoe. I’m also interested in Dmitri’s story, too. Who else gets their story told? Anyone?

Holly: All of Raphael’s Seven eventually get their own books. Dmitri, Jason, Galen, Sara, Ashwini (one of the Hunters) and Naasir’s are already out. Bluebell and Aodhan will eventually get theirs (according to Nalini, though she refuses to tell us WHEN we’ll get them).

Rowena: Oh man, Bluebell and Aodhan don’t have books yet? I’m dying to know why Aodhan doesn’t like being touched.

Holly: What did you think of the business with Lijuan and Michaela?

Rowena: I was expecting to hate both of them and that turned out to be true. I still hated them both, in the last book, I hated Michaela more but they were pretty tied in this book.

I can’t wait for Elena to get strong enough to really give Michaela a beating. She’s a survivor but just like she knows that Raphael is stronger than her, she knows that Michaela is too so when they have their final showdown (cause they do have that, right?), I can’t wait for Elena to mop Michaela up.

Holly: What I find interesting is that each archangel is so nuanced. I hated Michaela and Lijuan, too, but there was more to them than just their evil side. Ex: Michaela’s very real pain when Sam, the baby angel, was hurt. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to see Elena beat her ass bad, but still.

Rowena: That’s true because my reaction to how hurt she was over Sam was more, “You’re still a bitch but I’m glad there’s some redeeming qualities” than “Aww, she’s just misunderstood” but I gotta know…does she get her own book later on?

Holly: I don’t think any of the other archangels are getting books. Not that I’ve heard, anyway.

Rowena: As for Lijuan? She was creepy in the last book but she was more so this time around because her creepiness was front and center. When she turns her attention to Elena, I was grossed out. The way that she lives her life, the things that she finds interesting and amusing are so far beyond normal, it’s just gross.

I was interested in finding out who was killing everyone and trying to pit each of the archangels against each other. I had my suspicions but I was wrong. LOL. Also? I thought I wanted to taste chocolate covered oranges but not anymore.

Holly: Are you going to continue the series?

Rowena: This series is good when I read it but I find that I’m not as invested in this series as I am with the Psy/Changelings. I guess because that series is more romance than this one? I’m not sure but yes, I will continue this series but that will happen over time. I won’t be glomming this series or anything like that. I’m probably in the minority with that huh? I know a lot of people love this series and me? I just like it.

Holly: The next book is also Raphael and Elena. After that it breaks off to the Seven. I think you’ll like those books more. They’re more romance-centric. We’ll have to discuss again once you’ve read the next two books.

Rowena: I’ll let you know when I pick up the next couple of books.

Overall, this book was interesting and the suspense had me at the edge of my seat when things finally started happening but I found it very slow in the beginning. Still, it ended up on a high note so it wasn’t a bad read at all just not my favorite.

Holly: The beginning was slow for me, too. It took awhile to get into it, but once I did I was really sucked in. Singh has a way with the world-building. I would say this may be the weakest of the series for me. I enjoyed it, but the others are better.

Rowena: I’d give this book a 3.5. You?

Holly: 3.5

Final Grades:

Rowena: 3.5 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars