Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5)
Penguin / September 4, 2012 / $7.99 print & digital
With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.
Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.
With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.
In Archangel’s Storm, Nalini Singh gives us a complex world where angels exist and live among us, but these are not halo-wearing angels; these angels know love and joy, but also hate and sorrow and worse, jealousy and vengeance. But what happens when the most powerful creatures on the earth are driven by their flaws and their fears? Can they learn to live above and beyond them?
When the one of most powerful and oldest Archangel feels betrayed, she is vicious in meting out her punishment. Archangel Neha, the Archangel of the India region, has imprisoned her consort Eris for over 300 years for the crime of infidelity against her with her own sister. His punishment is considered lenient since Neha abandoned her own sister, who bore a child from the betrayal, to starve to death in her imprisonment. The child, now grown, is the Princess Mahiya, who has been raised by Neha not as a beloved daughter, but as a pawn used to continually punish Eris for his faithlessness. Yet Neha’s great love for Eris is what kept her from killing him as she did her sister.
“Neha is half insane,” she said at last. “I’m worried she’ll release her power.”
Knowing as he did the depth of the archangel’s emotions where her husband was concerned—she’d neither been able to forgive him his infidelity, nor set him free after centuries of confinement—Jason shared Samira’s concern. And Neha was a being of immense power. If she gave voice to her agony, she could lay waste to cities.
The Archangel Raphael has sent in one of his most trusted angels, Jason, his spymaster, to find Eris’s killer before Neha succumbs to madness in her grief and goes on a rampage. Jason blends in so well with the shadows not just because of his black wings, but because of the blackness he carries within. A traumatic event in his childhood left him alone and abandoned far from any civilization. He was too young and weak to fly from his island paradise; left alone for decades until he all but forgot how to communicate. He has worked hard to try to fit in with his fellow angels, but he believes he can never have a normal life as they do.
And the gift itself, Jason thought, was unusual for an immortal, most of whom would woo a woman with jewels or unusual treasures. As for this particular woman, he found the idea of another man courting her incited in him a dark violence he’d spent a lifetime learning to contain.
Tugging her head with the hand fisted in her hair, he forced himself to release lips swollen from his kisses. “Open your eyes.” It was a harsh order.
Thick lashes rose to reveal tawny eyes hazy with passion. “I see you, Jason.”
“And what do you see?” He stroked his free hand up her side, rubbing his thumb gently back and forth over her nipple through her clothing.
Her breath caught, but she didn’t break the eye contact. “A man who is a storm, who belongs to no one and who will never be tamed. To expect otherwise would be to ask for agonizing disappointment.”
Open eyes, he thought, she had wide-open eyes. “Some might say you’re attempting to seduce me in order to lead me on a leash.”
Laughter, warm and startled, spilled over the hilltop. “Only a fool would attempt to contain or direct a storm. I’m far too smart.”
Since Eris is now dead, Mahiya knows that her every breath is precious. Once Neha realizes that Mahiya will no longer be of use to punish Eris, she can finally rid herself of the painful memory of her consort’s betrayal. Mahiya has spent her life being tormented by Neha but she refuses to give in to the ugliness of the hate she feels, to become just like the bitter Neha, and Mahiya works hard to fight her fears and keep a level head when every word she utters could cause her death.
The lesson has been a brutal one, the Master of the Guard instructed to strip her back of skin. Mahiya had long understood she lived on Neha’s sufferance, having learned the truth from a nanny who thought she should know her place in the scheme of things, the gift of knowledge a rough kindness.
“Never forget that nothing you do will ever please her. To her, you are not a child to be protected, but a constant reminder of a betrayal that humiliated an archangel. Focus on survival.”
I will survive and I will survive whole.The vow was one she’d made even as the whip fell again and again. And it was one she had kept, refusing to let Neha twist her into an ugly mirror of her own hatred. Allowing the archangel to believe she’d succeeded in cowing Mahiya was a strategic move on the chessboard that cost her nothing but pride…and pride was a useless tool in the fight for her very existence.
Nalini’s Guild Hunter series gives us a vast cast of characters who are written with such depth of emotions you cannot help but feel for their pains and embrace their joys in this absolutely compelling and almost Shakespearean drama.
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.