"The Guild series continues with a completely unique and perfectly detailed story and characters."
Reviewed by Mandy Burns
Posted January 16, 2010
Feeling weak as a baby, Guild Hunter Elena Deveraux finally
awakes from her year-long coma after Archangel Rafael
turned her into a made-Angel. The change gives her power
she can use to hunt vampires; unfortunately she needs to
regain strength before she can tap into those powers. To do
so, she must retrain in the art of battle, survive aching
muscles and learn how to fly before she can be of any help
to the Guild. Because she is now a made-Angel, she has
everyone's attention. Those in her life before are unsure
whether she is alive or dead, and those she is living with
now are skeptical of what her presence means, with only a
few who actually care about her. Elena's peaceful healing
is cut short when the oldest and most dangerous Archangel
invites her to a ball in her honor.
Rafael does not regret changing Elena to one of his kind,
though he was ordered to kill her. During a fatal fight,
she was broken and falling, the only thing he knew to do
was give her life enhanced as an Angel. She has ended up
stealing his heart instead and is now his only weakness. He
must look after her until she is strong enough to protect
herself from the dangers of the world, including those like
him. Meanwhile, someone is endangering the innocent lives
of the rare and treasured children of their kind. Rafael
needs Elena's skills as a hunter to locate and stop the
vampires and Angels from disrupting the peace. But will she
let go of her own nightmares to be something more?
Nalini Singh's Guild series is a powerful and soul-
gripping saga with characters who are completely unique and
detailed to perfection. Purely a pleasure to read!
New York Times bestselling author of Angels'
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes
from a year-long coma to find that she has become an
angel-and that her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel
Raphael, likes having her under his control. But almost
immediately, Raphael must ready Elena for a flight to
Beijing, to attend a ball thrown by the archangel Lijuan.
Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan's power lies with the
dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most
vicious of welcomes for Elena...
Elena gripped the balcony railing and
stared down at the gorge that fell away with jagged promise
beneath. From here, the rocks looked like sharp teeth, ready
to bite and tear and rip. She tightened her hold as the icy
wind threatened to tumble her into their unforgiving jaws.
âA year ago,â she murmured, âI didnât know the Refuge
existed, and today, here I stand.â
A sprawling city of marble and glass
spread out in every direction, its elegant lines exquisite
under the razor-sharp burn of the sun. Dark-leafed trees
provided soothing patches of green on both sides of the
gorge that cut a massive divide through the city, while
snow-capped mountains ruled the skyÂline. There were no
roads, no high-rises, nothing to disturb the otherworldly
grace of it.
Yet, for all its beauty, there was
something alien about this place, a vague sense that
darkness lurked beneath the gilded surface. Drawing in a
breath laced with the biting freshness of the mountain
winds, she looked up . . . at the angels. So
many angels. Their wings filled the skies above this city
that seemed to have grown out of the rock itself.
The angelstruck, those mortals who
were literally enÂthralled by the sight of angelic wings,
would weep to be in this place filled with the beings they
worshipped. But Elena had seen an archangel laugh as he
plucked the eyes out of a vampireâs skull, as he pretended
to eat, then crush the pulpy mass. This, she thought with a
shiver, was not her idea of heaven.
A rustle of wings from behind her, a
squeeze from the powÂerful hands on her hips. âYouâre
tiring, Elena. Come inside.â
She held her position, though the
feel of himâstrong, danÂgerous, uncompromisingly
masculineâagainst the sensitive surface of her wings made
her want to shudder in ecstasy. âDo you think you have the
right to give me orders now?â
The Archangel of New York, a
creature so lethal that part of her feared him even now,
lifted the hair off her nape, brushed his lips across her
skin. âOf course. You are mine.â No hint of humor, nothing
but stark possession.
âI donât think youâve quite got the
hang of this true love thing.â Heâd fed ambrosia into her
mouth, changed her from mortal to immortal, given her
wingsâwings!âall because of love. For her, a
hunter, a mortal . . . no longer mortal.
âBe that as it may, itâs time you
return to bed.â
And then she was in his arms, though
she had no memÂory of having released the railingâbut she
must have, because her hands were filling with blood again,
her skin tight. It hurt. Even as she tried to ride out the
slow, hot burn, Raphael carried her through the sliding
doors and into the magnificent glass room that sat atop a
fortress of marble and quartz, as solid and immoveable as
the mountains around them.
Fury arced through her bloodstream.
âOut of my mind, Raphael!â
âBecause, as Iâve told you more than
once, Iâm not your puppet.â She grit her teeth as he laid
her on the cloud-soft bedding, the pillows lush. But the
mattress held firm under her palms when she pulled herself
up into a sitting position.
âA loverââGod, she could still
barely believe sheâd gone and fallen for an
archangelââshould be a partner, not a toy to manipulate.â
Cobalt eyes in a face that turned
humans into slaves, that sweep of night dark hair framing a
face of perfect grace . . . and more than a
little cruelty. âYouâve been awake exactly three days after
spending a year in a coma,â he told her. âIâve lived for
more than a thousand years. Youâre no more my equal now than
you were before I Made you immortal.â
Anger was a wall of white noise in
her ears. She wanted to shoot him as sheâd done once before.
Her mind cascaded with a waterfall of images on the heels of
that thoughtâthe wetly crimson spray of blood, a torn wing,
Raphaelâs eyes glazed with shock. No . . .
she wouldnât shoot him again, but he drove her to violence.
âThen what am I?â
Was it wrong that sparks sizzled
along her spine at hearÂing that, at seeing the utter
possession in his voice, the dark passion on his face?
Probably. But she didnât care. The only thing she cared
about was the fact that she was now tied to an archangel who
thought the ground rules had changed. âYes,â she agreed. âMy
heart is yours.â
A flash of satisfaction in his eyes.
âBut nothing else.â She locked gazes
with him, refusing to back down. âSo, Iâm a baby immortal.
Fineâbut Iâm also still a hunter. One good enough that you
Annoyance replaced the passion.
âYouâre an angel.â
âWith magic angel money?â
âMoney is no object.â
âOf course notâyouâre richer than
Midas himself,â she muttered. âBut Iâm not going to be your
âChew-toy?â A gleam of amusement.
She ignored him. âSara says I can
walk back into the job anytime I want.â
âYour loyalty to the angels now
overwhelms your loyalty to the Hunters Guild.â
âMichaela, Sara, Michaela, Sara,â
she murmured in a mock-thoughtful voice. âBitch Goddess
angel versus my best friend, gee, which side do you think
âIt doesnât matter, does it?â He
raised an eyebrow.
She had the feeling he knew
something she didnât. âWhy not?â
âYou canât put any of your plans in
action until you can fly.â
That shut her up. Glaring at him,
she slumped back against the pillows, her wings spread out
on the sheets in a slow sweep of midnight shading to indigo
and darkest blue before falling into dawn and finally, a
brilliant white-gold. Her attempt at a sulk lasted
approximately two seconds. Elena and sulking had never gone
well together. Even Jeffrey Deveraux, who despised
everything about his âabominationâ of a daughter, had been
unable to lay that sin at her feet.
âThen teach me,â she said,
straightening. âIâm ready.â The ache to fly was a fist in
her throat, a ravaging need in her soul.
Raphaelâs expression didnât change.
âYou canât even walk to the balcony without help. Youâre
weaker than the fledglings.â
Sheâd seen the smaller wings,
smaller bodies, watched over by bigger ones. Not many, but
âThe Refuge,â she asked, âis it a
place of safety for your young?â
âItâs everything we need it to be.â
Those eyes of purest sin shifted toward the door. âDmitri
She sucked in a breath as she felt
the temptation of DmiÂtriâs scent wrap around her in a glide
of fur and sex and wanÂton indulgence. Unfortunately, she
hadnât gained immunity to that particular vampiric trick
with her transformation. The flip side was also true. âOne
thing you canât argue withâI can still track vampires by
scent.â And that made her hunter-born.
âYou have the potential to be of
real use to us, Elena.â
She wondered if Raphael even knew
how arrogant he sounded. She didnât think so. Being
invincible for more years than she could imagine had made
that arrogance part of his nature . . . But
no, she thought. He could be hurt. When hell broke and an
Angel of Blood tried to destroy New York, RaÂphael had
chosen to die with Elena rather than abandon her broken body
on that ledge high above Manhattan.
Her memories were cloudy, but she
remembered shredded wings, a bleeding face, hands that had
held her protectively tight as they descended to the
adamantine hardness of the city streets below. Her heart
clenched. âTell me something, Raphael?â
He was already turning, heading to
the door. âWhat is it youâd like to know, Guild Hunter?â
She hid her smile at his slip. âWhat
do I call you? HusÂband? Mate? Boyfriend?â
Stopping with his hand on the
doorknob, he shot her an inscrutable look. âYou can call me
Elena stared at the closed door,
wondering if heâd been playing with her. She couldnât tell,
didnât know him well enough to read his moods, his truths
and lies. Theyâd come together in an agony of pain and fear,
pushed by the specter of death into a union that might have
been years in the making had Uram not decided to turn
bloodborn and tear a murderous path through the world.
Raphael had told her that according to legend, only
true love allowed ambrosia to bloom on an archangelâs
tongue, to turn human to angel, but perhaps her
metamorphosis owed nothing to the deepest of emotions, and
everything to a very rare biological symbiosis? After all,
vampires were Made by angels, and biological compatibility
paid an integral part in that transformation.
âDamn it.â She rubbed the heel of
one hand over her heart, trying to wipe away the sudden
twist of pain.
âYou intrigue me.â
Heâd said that at the start. So
perhaps, there was a compoÂnent of fascination. âBe honest,
Elena,â she whispered, runÂning her fingers over the
magnificent wings that were his gift to her, âyouâre the one
who fell into fascination.â
But she would not fall into slavery.
âMaster, my ass.â She stared at the
foreign sky outside the balcony doors and felt her resolve
turn iron-hardâno more waiting. Unlike if sheâd still been
human, the coma hadnât wasted away her muscles. But those
muscles had gone through a transformation she couldnât
imagineâeverything felt weak, new. So while she didnât need
rehab, she did need exercise.
Especially when it came to her
wings. âNo time like the presÂent.â Lifting herself up into
a proper sitting position, she took a deep, calming
breath . . . and spread out her wings.
âChrist, that hurts!â Teeth gritted,
tears leaking out of the corners of her eyes, she kept
stretching the unused, unfamilÂiar muscles, folding her
new-formed wings in slowly before expanding them outward.
Three repetitions later and the tears had soaked into her
lips until the salt of them was all she could taste, her
skin covered by a layer of perspiration that shimmered in
the sunlight streaming in through the glass.
That was when Raphael walked back
in. She expected an explosion but he just took a seat in a
chair opposite the bed, his eyes never leaving her. As she
watched, wary, he hooked one ankle over a knee, and began to
tap a heavy white enveÂlope bordered with gilt against the
top of his boot.
She held his gaze, did another two
stretches. Her back felt like jelly, her stomach muscles so
tight they hurt. âWhatâsââa pause to draw breathââin the
Her wings snapped shut behind her
and she found herself leaning against the headboard. It took
her several seconds to realize what heâd done. Something
cold unfurled within the core of her soul even as he got up
and dropped a towel on the bed, then retook his seat. No
fucking way was this going to keep happening.
However, in spite of the turbulent
fury of her anger, she wiped off her face and kept her mouth
shut. Because he was rightâshe wasnât his equal, not by a
long shot. And the coma had messed her up some. But as of
now, she was going to work on those shields sheâd started to
develop back before becomÂing an angel. There was a chance
thatâgiven the changes in herâshe could learn to hold them
Forcing her rigid shoulder muscles
to loosen, she picked up a knife sheâd left on the bedside
table and began to clean the pristine blade with the edge of
the towel. âFeeling better?â
âNo.â His mouth firmed. âYou need to
listen to me, Elena. I wonât hurt you, but I canât have you
acting in ways that bring my control over you in question.â
What? âExactly what kind of
relationships do archangels have?â she asked, genuinely
That made him pause for a minute. âI know of only one
stable relationship now that Michaela and Uramâs is broken.â
âAnd the Bitch Goddess is another
archangel, so they were equals.â
A nod of his head that was more
thought than movement. He was so damn beautiful that it made
thinking difficult, even when she knew he possessed a vein
of ruthlessness that was sewn into the fabric of his very
soul. That ruthlessness transÂlated into a furious kind of
control in bed, the kind that made a woman scream, her skin
too tight across a body that knew only hunger.
âWho are the other two?â she asked,
swallowing the spike of gut-deep need. Heâd held her since
she woke, his embrace strong, powerful, and at times,
heartbreakingly tender. But today, her body craved a far
âElijah and Hannah.â His eyes
glittered, turning to a shade sheâd once seen in an artistâs
studio. Prussian. Thatâs what it was called,
Prussian blue. Rich. Exotic. Earthy in a way sheâd never
have believed an angel to be until she found herself taken
by the Archangel of New York.
âYou will heal, Elena. Then I will
teach you how angels dance.â
Her mouth dried up at the slumbering
heat in that outÂwardly calm statement. âElijah?â she
prompted, her voice husky, an invitation.
He continued to hold her gaze, his
lips at once sensual and without pity. âHe and Hannah have
been together centuries. Though sheâs grown in power over
time, it is said that sheâs content to be his helpmeet.â
She had to think for a while about
that old-fashioned exÂpression. âThe wind beneath his
âIf you like.â His face was suddenly
all hard lines and anglesâmale beauty in its purest, most
merciless form. âYou will not fade.â
She didnât know if that was an
accusation or an order. âNo I wonât.â Even as she spoke, she
was vividly conscious that sheâd have to use every ounce of
her will to maintain her perÂsonality against the incredible
strength of Raphaelâs.
He began tapping that envelope
again, the action precise, deliberate. âAs of today, youâre
on a deadline. You need to be on your feet and in the air in
just over two monthsâ time.â
âWhy?â she asked, even as delight
bubbled through her bloodstream.
Prussian blue froze into black ice.
âLijuan is giving a ball in your honor.â
âWeâre talking about Zhou Lijuan,
the oldest of the archÂangels?â The bubbles went flat,
lifeless. âSheâs . . . different.â
âYes. She has evolved.â A hint of
midnight whispered through his tone, shadows so thick, they
were almost corpoÂreal. âSheâs no longer wholly of this
Her skin prickled, because for an
immortal to say that . . . âWhy would she
hold a ball for me? She doesnât know me from Adam.â
âOn the contrary, Elena. The entire
Cadre of Ten knows who you areâwe hired you after all.â
The idea of the most powerful body
in the world being interested in her made her break out in a
cold sweat. It didnât help that Raphael was one of them. She
knew what he was capable of, the power he wielded, how easy
it would be for him to cross the line into true evil. âOnly
nine now,â she said. âUramâs dead. Unless you found a
replacement while I was in a coma?â
âNo. Human time means little to us.â
The casual indifference of an immortal. âAs for Lijuan, itâs
about powerâshe wants to see my little pet, see my
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