ARCHANGEL'S STORM - Nalini Singh
A Guild Hunter Novel , Book 5
For three hundred years, the Archangel Neha has imprisoned her unfaithful husband Eris, unable to forgive him for his affair with her sister, Nivriti, but unable to kill the man she still loves. Now, his murder may just throw Neha into madness, and with China's Archangel Lijuan already insane, the Cadre doesn't need another insane Archangel. In spite of the enmity between Neha and Raphael, Archangel of New York, she accepts his offer of an impartial investigator, on one condition. Jason, one of Raphael's Seven, may enter Neha's territory to investigate Eris's murder, but only if he enters into a blood vow with Princess Mahiya, the young angel raised by Neha, but understood to be the product of the affair between Eris and Nivriti. Jason isn't sure what part Mahiya plays in Neha's Court, and after his first meeting with the enigmatic angel, he looks forward to uncovering her secrets.
Mahiya is far from the pampered princess the world believes her to be—she has suffered greatly for most of her three hundred years, used as a tool of vengeance, and always aware that both her Lady and her father wish she had never been born. She has longed to escape her silken prison, but with Eris's death, she knows her time is limited. She is to serve as a spy for Neha, watching over Jason as he investigates, something almost laughable as Jason is a spymaster she could never emulate. This man of shadows sees more than she is comfortable with and is brutally honest with her, which is completely different from her life in Neha's.
As Jason investigates with Mahiya's surprising help, he begins to get a bad feeling about what may be happening in Neha's Court. Before he can act on his suspicions, another body literally falls from the skies, and their investigation takes a wild and unimaginable turn.
Fans of the Guild Hunter series will recognize Jason as one of Raphael's Seven, the silent spymaster who, among other things, has been helping Elena, Raphael's Consort, learn to fly. In ARCHANGEL'S STORM, we learn of Jason's heartbreaking past that has formed him into the strong yet detached angel who is invaluable to Raphael. In spite of Neha's assertion that Mahiya is nothing more than a trinket in her court, Jason believes she may be more, but is still surprised by the help she gives. Mahiya has learned to suppress everything about herself and to isolate herself completely from the court, to the point that nobody sees her as an angel of any importance. She's shocked that Jason is able to see beyond the façade she presents to the world, but even more shocking are the feelings he inspires. Both characters have survived unspeakable hardships, and their respective pasts would have destroyed weaker persons, but both Jason and Mahiya have endured, even thrived.
Along with the romance between Jason and Mahiya, readers are treated (a bit) to Dmitri and Honor's honeymoon, and some glimpses of Elena and Raphael. There is also, of course, the investigation into Eris's murder, and the unusual events happening in Neha's Court. While the relationship between Jason and Mahiya is the focus of this book, there are also things that have been happening within the Cadre that is a continuation of the earlier books in the series. It may be better to read them in order so as not to spoil anything if read out of order, and to have a better understanding of the history between the Archangels and the sub-plot involving the recent changes among the Cadre. Either way, the Guild Hunters is a fascinating series, and ARCHANGEL'S STORM is not to be missed.