Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
Published by Berkley, March 2009
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best -- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option -- even if the task is impossible.
Because this time, it's not a wayward vamp she has to track. It's an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other -- and pull her to the razor's edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael's seductive touch just might. For when archangel's play, mortals break...
Elena Deveraux is a born hunter who is really good at what she does. So good, that when the archangel Raphael needs the best, her name is the one that comes up. Without further ado, he summons her and Elena does not have the option of dismissing or ignoring this summons. Mortals who ignore the wishes of an archangel don't have rosy futures. When Elena grudgingly meet with Raphael, the outcome is even worse than she thought it could or would be...an archangel has gone bad and Raphael needs Elena's skills to track him.
Elena has the ability to scent vampires. Uram, the archangel who has been fallen prey to blood lust has developed his own sick, acrid scent, which Raphael can use Elena to track. The archangels all control different areas of the world, with Raphael overseeing Manhattan and the surrounding areas. His power is unquestionable, his wrath fierce, and his retribution swift and brutal when earned. If word got out that archangels could succumb to this blood lust, it could have far-reaching and disastrous consequences so Raphael threatens the lives of all those that Elena holds dear if she tells what her task is for Raphael. This, of course, does nothing to endear Raphael to Elena. In fact, for much of the book, Elena and Raphael's relationship is very rocky and at times even contentious.
The power imbalance between Raphael and Elena was very interesting--he seemed to hold all of the cards leaving Elena to suck it up and deal--and yet it never seemed as if Elena was completely helpless. She is a very strong woman who has overcome something horrific in her past although only glimpses of the memory are given here and there. This emotional strength supplemented her physical strength in a way that helped to keep the power imbalance from getting too far out of alignment. The more Raphael was around Elena the more she would challenge him--something few mortals and immortals ever did. Quite simply, Elena engaged Raphael's curiosity and then his respect. As a fellow archangel told Raphael, she was making him a little bit human.
Uram, meanwhile, was a nasty piece of work. Elena discovered a few kill sites and the descriptions were brutal--I cringed at times at the graphic nature of the writing during these scenes. The seriousness of what would happen if Uram was not found and disposed of (something only another archangel could do) was clear--literally hundreds, if not thousands, of lives would be lost in the most brutal of bloodbaths and if enough time passed and Uram gained enough strength, he could get to a point where his demise might not be possible at all plunging the world into a blood bathed nightmare.
The world building in this book was fabulous and the hierarchy of archangels, angels, vampires, humans, and hunters fascinating. I am looking forward to another foray into this world.
This book rates a 5/5.
I checked this book out from my local public library.