When an author creates a series of books, there is the danger of them falling into a pattern. This is not always a bad thing as many readers welcome the element of predictability, intrigued to know how the end result will be achieved. Where romance is concerned it is a case of how quickly the protagonists will recognise their destiny and how they will overcome the obstacles placed in the way of true love.
In most of Nalini Singh’s books, whether it is the Psy-Changeling or the Guild Hunter universe, this is the format she regularly uses, and which her fans appreciate. Occasionally, she takes a step back from the expected pattern to explore the continuing relationship of couples love has already brought together. In the first of the Guild Hunter series, Angel’s Blood, Elena Deveraux faced down and won the love of Raphael, the Archangel of New York. Unwilling to lose the woman he had fallen for, he Made her into an angel, giving her near-immortality and the wings to fly with.
In this world, the Archangels rule. Only they can Make vampires, but these have to agree to a century of servitude before this can happen. Any vampire that tries to cut short that contract by running is brought back by the Guild Hunters of which Elena was one. Archangels are not quite the supreme power. There is a small sect called the Luminata, who can call the Cadre of (currently) eleven Archangels to their fortress of Lumia in Morocco under particular circumstances. In this case, it is because the Archangel of China has not been seen for two years. Because she is not in control, her vampires are running wild and killing humans at an alarming rate. The meeting will be to decide if she is dead, Sleeping or playing games. If either of the former, her territory will need to be put under someone else’s control. The problem is that not all Archangels like each other and if they are together for too long, their differences will surface, probably bloodily.
Elena has another reason for being at Lumia with Raphael, other than as his Consort. She believes that her grandparents came from the region and is interested in finding out more about them. Added to this, both Elena and Raphael think there is something not quite right in Lumia. Part of this stems from the way that Gian, leader of the sect, eyes Elena and part is the fact that the people of the nearest town seem very afraid of angels.
This novel, instead of being a straight paranormal romance as Singh’s books usually are, gives greater insight into the society that is ruled by Archangels and allows the personalities of some of the other characters to be developed. The relationship between Elena and her Archangel is strengthened but her family’s background is also explored. While some might complain that it is very convenient that Lumia is in the same area that she believes her grandparents originated from the development of a story arc is good practice.
Readers of Singh’s earlier books will not be disappointed unless their raison d’etre is only for the explicit sex that usually peppers her volumes. There is less in this one because it is unnecessary. A welcome addition to the series.