I didn’t realize quite how much I missed Singh’s Guild Hunter world until I jumped back into it. The first book in this series, Angels’ Blood, gave me my first taste of this author and I loved it so much that I indulged in a serious glom session and inhaled the rest of her backlist. Said glom session led to me falling in love with the Psy/Changeling series as well, but even that doesn’t come close to how happy the Guild Hunter world makes me. There was just something about Elena and Raphael (and that incredibly romantic scene at the end of the first book) that sucked me in. I was iffy on Dmitri (from the last book, Archangel’s Blade), but I have always enjoyed Jason. It was great to read his story.
Jason is sent into the archangel Neha’s territory to investigate the murder of her consort. After the recent upheaval in the Cadre no one is willing to see another Cadre member lose it, so Jason is sent in as a sort of damage control measure. Even though he’s Raphael’s spymaster, and thus not to be trusted, his skills in uncovering secrets make him perfect for figuring out what happened to Eris, so Neha agrees to allow him access to her territory as long as he agrees to a blood bond with someone of her line, and of her choosing. This bond would make Jason family, in a sense, and would obligate him to protect the family’s best interests, splitting his loyalty between Raphael and Neha’s line for the duration of the agreement. Jason goes, of course, and finds himself tied to an angel who is not at all what she seems.
Mahiya, the angel that Jason bonds with, it a puzzle that he just can’t figure out. Jason’s job is to understand people and to know all the things they want to hide, so Mahiya, a woman who appears bland at first glance and who allows herself to be treated as nothing, draws his attention. He sees flashes of personality that just don’t add up and his interest, first as a spymaster and later as a man, is caught. I really like Mahiya. She’s not an out and out badass like some of the previous heroines, but she has a core of pure steel. She’s willing to forego anything in the name of survival; pride, dignity, comfort, trust. Whatever it takes, she’ll bend. That may not sound like much to some, but I find it impressive. She’s survived for hundreds of years by playing a deep end game and being cunning and smart, and she’s somehow managed to keep from turning bitter or cold. How can you resist a girl like that?
Jason is a deep one. He’s had a rough life and he has an extremely hard time connecting with people. What I loved about him was how self aware he was. He knew exactly what his issues were and why. His biggest problem is that he just doesn’t care the way most people do. His past kept him too isolated and broke something inside him. He’s bonded with Raphael and the other Seven, yes, but he knows that it’s not as deep as it should be. I think the author did a great job developing his character, especially given how quiet and withdrawn he was. She had to make a mountain out of a molehill and she succeeded with me. I loved Jason and how consistent he stayed throughout. The ending especially emphasized this. Jason and Mahiya’s HEA is unique to them and is an echo of their personalities.
Jason and Mahiya’s romance is very different from the previous romances in the series. It makes sense, of course, given that they’re different people, with vastly different personalities, but I think that it might throw some readers off. I, personally, loved that the romance was so subdued. Jason has always come across as somber and quiet, so a loud, dramatic romance wouldn’t have fit at all. Instead, we are treated to two master strategists who slowly fall for each other. Neither of them trusts easily, and both of them have a role to play that keeps them from broadcasting their burgeoning feelings, but the emotion is definitely there. I loved that their needs matched each other so well. Mahiya finally found someone that she could love and trust and Jason finally found a home. *sigh*
Because Jason had to travel into Neha’s territory we don’t see as much of the cast as we’re used to. I think this helped Jason and Mahiya step out of the shadows and prevented their quiet personalities from being dominated by some of the other flashier characters. We get a visit from Venom and a small visit from Aodhan, but other than that we don’t see much of the other characters. However, the author does have scenes from Dmitri and Honor’s POVs scattered throughout the book, continuing their story. Those scenes didn’t do much for me but I know they’ll probably thrill a lot of you Dmitri lovers.
P.S. Elena and Raphael are the main couple in the next book. Woot!
In many ways, he was the opposite of Aodhan, the angel so broken, he couldn’t bear the slightest touch. Jason, by contrast, sometimes only felt real and not the phantom Lijuan had named him if he had the pressure of another’s skin, another’s wing against his own. It was as if all those years, decades, when he hadn’t felt the touch of another sentient being had created a thirst in him that could never be assuaged.