by Nalini Singh, fantasy (2011)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-24013-7
Archangel's Consort is the third book in Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series, and the good news is that it can stand alone very well. The bad news is, this one can stand alone very well because by the last page, the plot and the relationship between Elena and Raphael in this series have moved by about... oh, an inch. If you have no prior knowledge whatsoever about this series, I'd like to direct you to my review of the first book in this series, Angels' Blood, for the 101s.
Okay, now Elena is an angel as well as Guild Hunter. Even better, she's the consort of the Archangel of New York! Awesomeness is radiating from every erogenous zone of hers, especially from her hoochie like the fires of the Statue of Liberty, and Raphael, the poor darling, would have gone mad like his parents a long time ago if he didn't have unlimited access to Elena's +10 Hoochie of Pure Awesomeness. It's not that Raphael isn't lacking in the Pure Awesome department. Every woman in this story that poses at least a halfway decent challenge to Elena's stature as the only awesome woman in the world hates her and wants her dead; most of the members of Raphael's Seven want her dead too because they think Raphael's love for her weakens him. And then there are some, like Lijuan the Archangel of Batcrap Insane Coolness, who want nothing more than to see Elena dead so that Raphael can rule by their side.
And in this story, our winged Brangelina duo faces the biggest threat to their happiness: the in-laws are coming to visit. Like Jon Voight to Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Deveraux is pure evil where Elena is concerned, but the best has yet to come: Raphael's mother wants to drop by, and true to the spirit of this book - awesome women are all batcrap insane so as to never threaten to dim the radioactive awesomeness of our heroine - Caliane is rumored to be so batcrap freaking insane, she makes Lijuan look like a sedated Pomeranian.
However, if you have read this book, you will realize that Caliane barely appears in this story. There is plenty of build-up about how she is OMG COMING TO KILL EVERYONE AHHHHH WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE but when she finally awakens, it's twenty pages before the last page. Seriously, I am not kidding. And there is no payoff. I don't want to spoil the story anymore, so let me just say that everything that happens in this story up to that last twenty pages turns out to have no long-term relevance to the story arc.
But perhaps you are thinking, the romantic aspects could have saved the story. Well, no. Everything about this story leading up to the last twenty pages is pure filler. Raphael finally shows some vulnerabilities - he will OMG GO CRAZY AND HATE EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD WAAAH EMO BABY EMO LIKE ADAM LAMBERT if he didn't get to extinguish the angst in Elena's honey pot of pure awesome. That's nice, I guess, since it tells me why he, an ancient Archangel, can be attracted to a heroine who is a typical generic urban fantasy heroine, but I still have no idea why she wants him. But perhaps I am missing the point here - perhaps it doesn't matter why Elena loves him as much as I'm supposed to be delighted with the idea that Elena is loved by the most powerful man in the whole world.
Other than how I now know that Raphael needs Elena's honey or he will AAAH EMO AAAAAH non-stop, the rest of the relationship is the same. Actually, everything remotely related to relationships is the same. Raphael wants to protect Elena and put her in a gilded cage - for her own good, of course - while Elena is like, hello, she's an awesome Guild Hunter who can smell out naughty vampires like a hormonal beast man of Lora Leigh. Apart from a few scenes where Raphael is going all emo about a life without Elena, he's shagging Elena whenever they are together. The author doesn't say this outright, but the unfortunate implication here is that Elena's hoochie is indeed full of awesome that keeps giving.
Of course, now that Elena is an angel, there are also many scenes of mortals looking at her and going OMG SHE'S SO AWESOME AND DIDYA SEE THE LIGHT COMING OUT OF HER HOOCHIE? SQUEEEE! while those who hate her wish desperately that she would drop down dead.
As for the Archangels, Michaela is all I HATE ELENA THAT BITCH but now that she's getting laid on a regular basis, she's a bit nicer. Lijuan is like HEE-HEE-HEE I AM INSANE BUT I'M STILL COOLER THAN EVERYONE AND DO YOU KNOW I HAVE AWESOME POWERS, just like always. Neha is all MY DAUGHTER IS DEAD AND I HATE ALL OF YOU NOW. The only thing that comes out of Elijah's mouth is HANNAH I LOVE HANNAH HANNAH HANNAH HANNAH WAAAAH HANNAH. Maybe it's time for a new script in this sitcom?
Perhaps I am being too harsh on this book, but can you blame me? When I realize that only the last twenty pages of this story have any relevance whatsoever to the story arc, I am not amused. There are about 324 pages of story in this book, but the author ended up advancing the story line and the characters' growth only by an inch. Don't we have the short story format for this kind of thing?
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