Author: Nalini Singh
Publication: Berkley; Original edition (February 2, 2010)
Description: 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...
My Thoughts: This book was great! I loved watching Elena go from being one of the strongest and most talented humans around to one of the weakest and most vulnerable angels. It was good watching her learn about the angel world and find her place in it. It was also good to see the relationship between Raphael and Elena grow. Raphael makes most alpha males look a little soft and fluffy. He is immortal (well sort of) and has unbelievable skills and power. He is an object of fear to anyone with any sense at all. But he loves Elena and is willing to compromise for her. Elena is strong in her humanity even though she is now also an immortal angel. She is strong enough for a relationship with equality. She brings her strengths to Raphael.
I like the world and mythology that is created. Singh talks about some of the hidden dangers of immortality. So many of the angels have gotten to the point where they have no value for human life and the only thing that interests them is causing pain. Angels are the top predator on Earth and their politics are based on who is the strongest. Elena is a weakness for Raphael and she must quickly learn to defend herself. Luckily, she is a skilled survivor. Both Elena and Raphael have pasts that haunt them. Elena was witness to a rogue vampire coming to her home when she was ten hunting her who then killed her two older sisters in horrible ways and torturing her mother. Her mother later commits suicide. Elena had blocked most of those memories but becoming immortal has stirred them up again in the form of nightmares. Raphael has nightmares of his own. His own father was killed by his mother after he devolved into a blood-craving monster and his mother disappeared. Raphael fears that he too will devolve. You see, immortals do either devolve or evolve over the course of their long lives. Elena's human heart is what will keep him from devolving.
Lijuan is the oldest of the immortals and she has evolved in such a way that she has no interest in humanity at all and is busy creating zombie like creatures who are loyal only to her. She sees Elena as a curiosity to be experimented with. She has so much power that the other angels fear her. But Lijuan is not Elena's only enemy. She dodges many attempts to kill her and a good part of the book is concerned with finding out who is targetting her and stopping them.
This was a rich, fascinating book filled with well-rounded characters. I look forward to following further adventures in the Guild Hunter series.
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, Bottoms Up Reading Challenge