Why did I get it: I really liked the concept for this series and I’ve heard great things about Nalini Singh.
How I would rate it: 3.5 out of 5 stars. I had a very hard time rating Angels’ Blood, but I definitely want to read more of Singh’s books.
My Summary: Elena is a vampire hunter and she’s very good at her job, but is she good enough to not only track down vampires but kill a rogue archangel? To complicate matters, she’ll have to work on the side of not only angels but vampires as well. And Raphael, the archangel of New York, is dangerously and obsessively interested in making her his.
My Review: First of all, I loved the writing and the world. Singh has a real gift in terms of craft and vision. It’s awesome that she created a world where angels create vampires and squabble amongst themselves. Where good and bad sort of blend together into fascinating shades of gray.
But I did have some problems. Thein Angels’ Blood was pretty great, but the romance not so much. The chemistry wasn’t often there for me as a reader in any real way, and the bond between Elena and Raphael didn’t work for me in a lot of ways despite my liking the characters a lot.
Elena is a very kick-ass heroine, but sometimes the book tried to hard to drive that point home. Would I rather have a tough, feisty female character who would rather kill a supernatural guy than get used by him? FOR SURE. But do I need her to stab and maim every guy she deals with? Not really. And this wasn’t her fault, but I wish Singh had not made every single male lust after her.
Also Elena had weird moments of doubt that were only there to keep her from liking Raphael before the book reached the halfway mark. She kept hemming and hawing about the angel in really ridiculous ways. She kept running from her, running to him, running away from his minions, hurting people, hurting him… Trying to keep track of how she felt on any given page made my head hurt after awhile.
As far as the archangel was concerned, Raphael is hot and really interesting but I don’t know how much I liked him most of the time. At the beginning and actually for most of the book, he tends to do pretty horrible things. He’s horrible to Elena, horrible to humans, horrible to vampires, horrible to other angels, and occasionally horrible to himself. In fact it seemed like the only way to make him less dangerous an option was to decide that somehow Elena was going to make him more human. Still, he didn’t change a lot and he still behaved in a very tyrannical, arrogant angel way, but there were other concerns in the back of his mind too.
All of these aspects given to one angel made for a really complex and cool character, but I’m not sure this made for an ideal love interest for me. I really liked that occasional chapters or sections were from Raphael’s point of view and that it was easy to see that by being an angel and being ancient, his perspective had to be very alien. But I think that insight only added to my inability to understand why they were going to get shoved into being a couple.
To be honest, I couldn’t figure out why this ever worked for either one of them, but especially for Elena. On one hand, I realize a lot was going on and that by working together in close proximity views will change. Fair enough. I understood how they got to the point of sleeping together, calling an uneasy truce, and developing a grudging respect for one another. That was great.
On the other hand, by the end of the book they’re professing undying love for one another and Raphael literally changes Elena completely even if it’s for the better. What was the hurry ? I’m still confused. This is book one of a series. I am all for characters having fun and having sex and getting over things, but their issues seemed to get solved in a very rushed way. Even their temporarily Happily Ever After vibe comes seemingly out of nowhere.
Hopefully Elena and Raphael will make a bit more sense in the second book and I’m sure they’ll have issues to work out. Regardless, I did like both characters on their own. Elena was a tough warrior lone wolf type woman which I appreciated, and Raphael was a terrificeven if he definitely crept into unlikable villain territory once or thrice.
Not only were Elena and Raphael likable, but most of the minor characters are really awesome too and helped make the plot interesting, complex, and very dark. I definitely want to see more of Illium and Dmitri and the Cadre. So much detail has been given to them and their back stories that the world just seemed very vivid and very well-conceived. The villain in this novel was well-done too and very creepy.
In conclusion, this series has potential, I think. I’m not sure this is the strongest beginning, but it’s not the worst. There’s a lot of good stuff going on, a lot of originality at play, and a lot more left to learn about the world and the characters.
Besides, characters hooking up too quickly seems to be happening a lot in series fiction so I’m not going to hold this against the book too much. I do wish it would stop though.