On the back cover of this book, Nalini Singh is described as the "alpha author of paranormal romance". Truer words have never been spoken. She is, hands down, my absolute favorite PNR writer. Have I gone gaga over every single story she's written? No. There have been a few I didn't personally connect with, but those would be the exception, not the rule. Almost overwhelmingly, Nalini Singh books are grand-slam hits for me, with many occupying coveted places on my favorites shelf - which is exactly where her Guild Hunter series sits.
In Archangel's Legion, New York's archangel and his consort are back after a two-book break, and boy oh boy, do they ever hit the ground running! The danger they must face is introduced almost immediately, with angels inexplicably falling from the sky, and from that devastating scene forward, it's a race against time as Raphael and Elena try to figure out what the heck is happening in their city and how to stop it before all is lost.
I felt like there was a stronger character focus this time around. Not that the action wasn't present, because it definitely was, but the characters really stepped to the forefront. Elena is still adjusting to her new wings and immortality. She's getting better at vertical takeoffs and extended flights, but as a newly Made angel, she's got a long way to go before she can keep up with Raphael and the others. She's vulnerable yet, a mere babe in the woods, and that doesn't sit well with her. Add in the painful knowledge that she is going to outlive all of her human friends and loved ones, the ongoing issues with her dad, complicated (and potentially deadly) angel politics, trying to figure out the do's and don't's of being a Consort, and....yeah. Tough days. But this is Elena we're talking about. Being the kick-butt heroine that she is, she doesn't take anything lying down. She rises to every challenge, refusing to give up even when things are at their worst. She's always been a powerhouse character in my mind, but I think this is the first book where all the pieces clicked into place and I fully grasped just how big and amazing her potential is. She's incredible.
Raphael is under fire in this book as well. The Cascade is in full swing, opening the door to catastrophe and mass destruction, and triggering the onset of new abilities Raphael doesn't fully understand and can't control. There's also Lijuan to deal with, and the constant threat of her macabre plans for world domination. The pressure of leading, protecting and saving his people is an enormous burden, but fortunately for everyone, Raphael's got the broad wings and shoulders to handle it. I love that Nalini Singh doesn't pull any punches with him - that he is still very much the strong alpha male character we met in book one and hasn't become one of those poetry-spouting softies who can't make tough decision or dish out punishment. Archangels are no one you want to mess with, and you can really feel that in the Raphael scenes. He's a certified badass, and yet his deep, passionate love for Elena is unwavering. Their relationship is as solid as ever, and thank goodness it is, because without each other to lean on and draw strength from, I'm not sure they could survive everything that is being thrown at them.
As in previous Guild Hunter books, the secondary cast of characters plays an important role. We find out what's going on with Vivek from the Guild, and of course there are the usual appearances from various members of Raphael's Seven. Now, as fans of the series know, Dmitri and Jason have already gotten their own books, so the big question we're all asking ourselves is, who's next? The author has reported on her website that she is only contracted for 2 more books after this one (although that could certainly change in the future). Will Raphael and Elena be headlining those books, or will members of the Seven get top billing...and which members? Will it be Venom? Illium (aka Bluebell)? Aodhan? What about Naasir, the uber-fascinating "tiger creature" we met in this book? Gahhhh, I want books about ALL OF THEM!
To make this long review short, Archangel's Legion rocked my socks off, and the series as a whole is one of the finest and most thrilling, well-written paranormal romances I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Bar none.
Nalini Singh, I bow to your awesomeness.
5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.