Angel's Blood—Nalini Singh
"Here's a tip—you want to call me your toy, go ahead. Just don't expect me to be one." (261)
Vampire-hunter Elena Deveraux is just trying to go along her merry vampire-hunter way—being disconnected from her family, dealing with her traumatic past—when an archangel summons her. Well, to be fair, he is paying for her services as a vampire hunter. In Elena's world, vampires are created by angels, and she serves as a kind of bounty hunter to return vampires who have become unruly and escaped their angel overlords' reign. But archangels are a whole other bag. Elena would really prefer to not get involved. But that's not really an option with archangel Gabriel, who is recruiting her for her hunter-born skills at vampire tracking—but to track a creature that is not merely vampire, nor angel, nor human. And maybe having some sexy times with an archangel along the way. Whatevs.
I've read three books in Nalini Singh's other Psy-Changeling series, and didn't like those three collectively as much as I liked this one. Perhaps it was because I found this worldbuilding more compelling? I don't really know. Just when I think I'm done with vampires, somebody throws a twist on the whole mythology and draws me right back in. In this urban fantasy, basically modern day world that Singh creates, vampires are made by angels. It's a long waiting list, people trying to be Made, and not every person is compatible with whatever process the angels use to Make them. In turn, though, those who are Made are then tied to that angel for what is basically indentured servitude for a hundred years. Elena hunts those who have scurried away before they've completed their hundred years, basically contracting with the angels. But even though there's this whole guild of Hunters, and it's a pretty mundane thing to interact with angels, there's a kind of ethereal and menacing nature still surrounding archangels.
Anyway, I was sucked in right away. I really liked Elena. I like that she stood up for herself, I like that she didn't take Gabriel's shenanigans, even though he can basically destroy her immediately. I liked that she was a badass fighter and could defend herself. I appreciated that she had female friendship (although they weren't really fleshed out much). Gabriel was mysterious, and that's always intriguing and appealing. For the most part, he wasn't the stereotypical alpha male where he ordered her around, until you got to the point where they started being intimate. I just think they were well-matched. Also, who doesn't love wings and the idea of flying? It's such a common dream, and the way that Singh describes them...I was jealous of Elena at the end, when she got her wings.
I actually think that was my least favourite part of the book, is when Gabriel and Elena have some sort of cosmic connection which allows him to make her an angel (instead of a vampire). It's an interesting thing that it irritates me so much, because I'm not averse to "chosen one" type books. Maybe it's the idea of "chosen couples" or chosen pairing that really irks me.
The writing did get a bit repetitive. For example, one of the archangels is super old. Like, beyond anyone's reckoning, so that she's almost become another kind of entity. But I counted five times in the book where someone said that she was "no longer of this world" or something using almost exactly that wording. I always feel like when authors do that it's either poor editing, or they think their reader is an idiot and is not going to remember that particular thing I said before, so I'll just say it again. That was a bit frustrating, but not enough to deter me from wanting to read the other books in this series. But maybe I'll wait a couple of months until I'm not romance'd out...
Thoughts on Slave to Sensation, Psy-Changeling #1
Thoughts on Visions of Heat, Psy-Changeling #2
Thoughts on Kiss of Snow, Psy-Changeling #10 (Yes, I skipped. That's the only time in my memory, since I started reading at three, that I've done that with a series. But I'm not ashamed.)