As many of you are aware, I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of Archangel’s Heart for many months and I was disappointed by the fact my manager had drawn up a rota that has had me working most days following its release. Consequently, it has taken me a lot longer to read than I would have liked. Let’s not call it ‘slow reading’, though. Let’s call it…’savoring’ 😉

When the infamous Archangel of China, Lijuan, disappears following the battle that nearly saw New York razed to the ground, no one knows if she is Asleep or dead. With her territory succumbing to a tide of vampiric bloodlust, the Cadre is summoned  by an ancient order of angels known as the Luminata to discuss the future of her lands.

Elena accompanies her lover, Raphael, the Archangel of New York, to the mysterious stronghold where screams and secrets seem to echo throughout its silent corridors. As the days pass, it soon becomes apparent that as opposed to being a place where angels find luminescence, instead it’s a place where they indulge in their darkest fantasies, far from the prying eyes of the Cadre.

Neither Elena or Raphael are prepared for the truth, though, a truth that has Elena questioning everything she thinks she knows about herself…

My thoughts on Archangel’s Heart 

Okay, the fact that I opted for yet another photo of me grinning wildly with my copy should tell you exactly what I think. The story encased within this breathtaking cover was well worth the many painful months of waiting (Nalini, please don’t make me wait an entire year for the next book!). Archangel’s Heart is different, in many senses, to its predecessors in that it’s quite slow paced. You get about 3/4 of the way through the book and find yourself still uncertain as to where the plot is taking you. This uncertainty is effective, though, because you just know that something HUGE is coming and the anticipation literally has you on the edge of your seat. Nalini isn’t a predictable author and, as a result, I didn’t actually figure out the incredible plot twist until the page before it happened. Books that cause me to shriek “No fucking way!” are my favorite kind of books.

The fact that it’s slower in pace by no means detracts from the brilliance of it. In fact, it gave me the chance to catch up with all my favorite characters and to see how they’d developed in the two years since the events of the previous book. It was fantastic seeing how Elena and Raphael’s relationship had cemented even further. They do normal couple things like holding hands (cutest scene ever) and attending Guild parties together. They even babysit Elena’s baby niece, Maggie, and it’s so sweet reading about how Raphael has rocked her to sleep on multiple occasions. Furthermore, the foundation of trust that their relationship is built upon is second to none. Elena is firm friends with Illium, a member of Raphael’s Seven. In fact, Elena and Illium are such good friends that they hold hands and he even kisses her hand when they’re in plain sight of Raphael’s home…and he faces no repercussions because men and women can just be friends, a fact overlooked by too many males in the world of paranormal romance. Elena and Raphael’s relationship is everything that a relationship should be; it’s a relationship based on trust, mutual respect, love and open affection.

More importantly, though, the enigma that is Aodhan plays such a central role in this book. In previous books, we only caught glimpses of this angel with eyes of fractured glass and wings of diamond encrusted white. He’s broken on the deepest level, scarred by two years of horrific torture, the details of which have yet to be revealed. He’s a character I’ve always wondered about and I was delighted when Raphael chose him to accompany him and Elena to the Luminata stronghold in Morocco. It’s apparent that he’s on the road to recovery and the tender scenes between him and Elena – in which they share a joke or hold hands in a display of support or solidarity – are heartwarming to read. I think Illium may have a rival in being my number one book boyfriend…

As for the actual plot, so much is revealed about Elena’s past and, without wanting to give too much away, the ending is bittersweet. So much has been lost in the past eight books and beyond, yet so much has been gained by the final page of Archangel’s Heart. Elena has been through so much and it’s left her with a fear of being abandoned by those closest to her. I hope this fear eases from this point onwards and that Aodhan continues to thrive under her watchful eye.

My only real complaint is that Illium has a hissy fit fifty pages in and isn’t seen for the rest of the book. He had justifiable reasons but still…

Rating: 5/5 (of course)

Song: Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies  (a song for the Luminata)