First of all, cover! Isn’t it striking? I thought it was perfect for this story once I started reading. This was Naasir’s book and as such needed to reflect something of him.
The Guild Hunter series has been a favorite since I picked up the first book. Most of the stories were unputdownable even many of the short stories and novellas. It is pretty much a series that must be read in order as the series story arc and several lesser ones advance as you go. I have long since stopped trying to figure out if its Urban Fantasy or PNR. It’s a little of both depending on the plot thread you are on at the time.
I have waited through a few books now to get this particular member of Rafael the Archangel’s Cadre- his inner seven. Naasir is not an angel. He has certain traits of a vampire, but he is not entirely a vampire either. He is stealthy and somewhat feral, but he is loyal and has a strong sense of family. Of late, he has both been spying on the crazy yet evilly powerful archangel, Lijuan, and looking for his mate.
As this story opens, Rafael gives Naasir a mission. Lijuan is hunting down an ancient angel who is in his immortal sleep so she can destroy him. Rafael doesn’t know why, but he knows that it must be prevented at all costs. An ancient’s place of sleep is well hidden so Naasir is given a scholar as his partner. They are to seek out Alexander and warn him as well as protect him from Lijuan. The task will be dangerous with the crazed archangel and her lethal army on their tail, but Naasir is up for any challenge particularly with the female scholar who smells like mate to him even if she took some silly vow of celibacy.
Andromeda is now coming of age. For a few hundred years, she has been left alone to study, but now her grandfather, the Archangel Charisemnon, is calling her in to serve the traditional family duty. Andromeda has distanced herself from her depraved family who are aligned with Lijuan, but in just a few days, she will be stuck in service and forced to do unspeakable things until her duty ends. She doesn’t regret this more than when she encounters the enigmatic Naasir who honestly tells her that he wants her and wants to be with her. Between his mysterious origins, his wild nature, his protectiveness, and his treating her like someone special, she soon yearns for the sensual male tracker, too. She keeps it a secret from him that she must return home after their mission. A mission that grows more dangerous with the knowledge that Lijuan knows that she as expert knowledge in the locations of the Ancients’ resting places.
The story has the overarching series theme of the Cascade affecting both natural events and angel kind, creating chaos and upending everything. Within this, the Archangels of the world vie for power and allies. Some work for the good while others have selfish motivations, but the whole world is affected. I love the intensity this creates alongside the more personal plot threads. Naasir searches for his mate, finds her, and then finds that she is not, in turn, looking for a mate. She has secrets, but he will get answers. They share the mission adventure together. Weaving through Naasir and Andromeda’s story is time with Rafael and Elena and also the curiouser and curiouser Illium and Aodhan situation.
Naasir and Andromeda are both interesting characters and I liked their personal stories, particularly the mystery of Naasir’s past which was quite the eye opener when it was revealed entirely. I enjoyed the adventure and partnering they did. Both are strong well-drawn characters.
Naasir has always been one of a kind, different, and even scary to most others outside his close knit group of friends and adopted family. He longs for a mate who will be his and will accept him just as he is. Andromeda might have been startled many times, but she definitely accepted and wanted Naasir. She saw him as a person with splendid abilities rather than a freak of nature. I loved that. Andromeda is the kind of adventure heroine I like. She is more of a warrior-scholar, but she doesn’t let it go to her head. Naasir is better trained and more powerful so she wisely lets him lead. Just as Naasir doesn’t discount her abilities and skills so he trusts her to fight and think for herself.
Their romance was more of a moderate interest, however. Andromeda ends up blowing hot and cold because of her infuriating vows and need to keep her family duty secret. It wasn’t her that I was unamused with per se, but I found the barrier not one that intrigued me. I thought of a few ways to work around the duty thing and had to sit there waiting until it all played out. As for her celibacy thing, that was laughable. She took the vow because she didn’t want to turn into her parents who were so sensual and depraved. I chuckled when she learned really quickly that she wasn’t the one with the power because of her vow. She was practically begging Naasir and trying to seduce him, but he was determined that she keep her word at least until they were mated. And that would bring her up short because she was lying to him and didn’t tell him that she had no plans to be his mate, but must go home and serve out her family duty.
But truth be told, I was more interested in the story running alongside theirs. I loved the time spent with Rafael and Elena. They had some powerful, pivotal scenes. I like the sense that things are setting up again for something huge.
And then there was that tantalizing Illium plot thread. I really can’t wait to see that one teased out. Illium has been a favorite of the series.
In summary, this was a good, strong installment of the series. The action, the continued amazing plot development, worldbuilding, and large cast of intriguing characters was marvelous stuff. The romance wasn’t my favorite of the series, but it was still pretty good. The tone of bubbling and sizzling excitement waiting to explode into action is just what I want to keep me hooked and looking for the next installment. For something creative and different in an urban fantasy series, I would definitely suggest this series.
My thanks to Penguin Group for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #282 UF
Cliché Klatch #170 ‘between a rock and a hard place’
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