Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Guild Hunter #4
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.
Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.
As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...
I am a huge fan of Nalini Singh's books and I absolutely adore her Guild Hunter series. The first three books of the series focused on Elena and her archangel lover Raphael. The author changed things up in Archangel's Blade as the story focused on Dmitri instead. Since Angels' Blood (the first book in the series), I was intrigued by dark, dangerous and intense Dmitri--Raphael's second-in-command and a powerful vampire. He wasn't a likable character but I wanted to know his history and how he came to be the way he was nonetheless.
I'll just come right out and say that I love this book. Out of all the books in the series, Archangel's Blade is the darkest yet but it's my favorite. Dmitri and Honor are both fantastic, fascinating characters and I loved them both. They have both been through horrific ordeals. Honor, a Guild Hunter whose specialty was ancient language and history, was just starting to put herself and her life together again after being captured and tortured by vampires when she was called by Guild to assist Dmitri with a case. Honor always had this inexplicable fascination with Dmitri and despite of her distrust of vampires after what she went through, she couldn't stop thinking about him. Dmitri, in turn, was drawn to Honor in a way he hasn't with a woman since his beloved wife. We learn about what happened to Dmitri's wife and children and of his forced Making through flashbacks throughout the book--it was wonderful to see how Dmitri was when he was just a humble farmer, before he became a vampire.
There was a lot of blood and violence in this book (much more than the previous books in the series) but the author balances it all out with touching and heartbreaking scenes. I loved watching Honor and Dmitri find each other and come together. I love Elena and Raphael but Honor and Dmitri are something else and their story was breathtaking. I hope the author writes another book with Dmitri and Honor as the main couple again in the future.
There were essentially two mysteries in the novel. One involved strange tattoos on the victims that had ties to Dmitri's tragic past, which the murder case that initially brought Dmitri and Honor together, but the focus of the story became finding the vampires responsible for Honor's capture and torture. The tattoo mystery was not fleshed out--it was mentioned in the beginning and towards the end and it seemed like it was only as a devise for Dmitri and Honor to meet. As for Raphael and Elena, they were in a few scenes (Raphael more than Elena) but I was okay with that because I wanted the story to focus on Dmitri and Honor. Illium, Venom and Holly (she was Uram's only surviving victim for the first book in the series--she's interesting and I'm thinking she may have her own book in the future) also make an appearance.
Archangel's Blade was an emotional roller coaster ride of a read. The story just sucks you in and won't let go until the end. I devoured this book quickly and will be rereading it in the near future. If you haven't read this series, start with Angels' Blood and work your way to Archangel's Blade. I also highly recommend her Psy/Changeling series. Paranormal romance doesn't get any better than Nalini Singh.