FIRST IN THE GUILD HUNTER SERIES from ďa major new talentĒ (CHRISTINE FEEHAN).
Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires.
Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time, itís not a wayward vamp she has to track. Itís an archangel gone bad.
The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no otheróand pull her to the razorís edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesnít destroy her, succumbing to Raphaelís seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break.
Elena’s instincts were screaming at her to grab the knife in her boot, do some damage and get the hell out, but she forced herself to stay in place. The truth was, she wouldn’t make it more than two feet before Raphael broke every single bone in her body.
It was exactly what he’d done to a vampire who’d thought to betray him.
That vampire had been found in the centre of Times Square. He’d still been alive. And he’d still been trying to scream—“No! Raphael, no!” But his voice had been a rasp by then, his jaw hanging on by stringlike tendons, his flesh missing in places.
Elena—out of the country on a hunt—had seen the news footage after the event. She knew the vamp had lain there in agony for three hours before being picked up by a pair of angels. Everyone in New York, hell, everyone in the country, had known he was there, but no one had dared help him, not with Raphael’s mark blazing on his forehead. The archangel had wanted the punishment witnessed, wanted to remind people of who and what he was. It had worked. Now the mere mention of his name evoked visceral fear.
But Elena wouldn’t crawl, not for anyone. It was a choice she’d made the night her father had told her to get on her knees and beg, and maybe, maybe, he’d accept her back into the family.
“You should have a care,” Raphael said into the unnatural silence.
She didn’t collapse in relief—the air continued to hang heavy with the promise of menace. “I don’t like to play games.”
“Learn.” He settled back in his chair. “You will live a very short life if you expect only honesty.”
Sensing the danger had passed—for now—she unclenched her fingers with an effort of will. The force of the blood rushing back into them was painful in its extremity. “I didn’t say I expected honesty. People lie. Vampires lie. Even—” She caught herself.
“Surely you’re not going to practice discretion now?” The amusement was back but it was tempered with an edge that stroked like a razor across her skin.
She looked into that perfect face and knew she’d never met a more deadly being in her life. If she displeased him, Raphael would kill her as easily as she might swat a fly. She’d be smart to remember that, no matter how the knowledge infuriated her. “You said I had to do a test?”
His wings moved slightly at that instant, drawing her attention. They truly were beautiful and she couldn’t help but covet them. To be able to fly…what an amazing gift.
Raphael’s eyes shifted to look at something over her left shoulder. “Less a test than an experiment.”
She didn’t twist around, had no need to. “There’s a vampire behind me.”
“Are you sure?” His expression remained unchanged.
She fought the urge to turn. “Yes.”
He nodded. “Look.”
Wondering which was worse—having her back to an enigmatic and highly unpredictable archangel, or to an unknown vampire—she hesitated. In the end, her curiosity won out. There was a distinctly satisfied expression on Raphael’s face and she wanted to know what had put it there.
Shifting, she turned sideways with her whole body, the position allowing her to keep Raphael in her peripheral vision. Then she looked at the two…creatures who stood behind her. “Jesus.”
“You may go.” Raphael’s voice was a command that awakened absolute terror in the eyes of the one who looked vaguely human. The other scuttled away like the animal it was.
She watched them leave through the glass door and swallowed. “How old was…” She couldn’t call that thing a vampire. Neither had it been human.
“Erik was Made yesterday.”
“I didn’t know they could walk at that age.” It was an attempt to sound professional though she was creeped out to her toes.
“He had a little help.” Raphael’s tone made it clear that that was all the answer she was going to get. “Bernal is…a fraction older.”
She reached for the juice she’d rejected earlier and took a drink, trying to wash away the stink that had seeped into her pores. The older vamps didn’t have that ick factor. They—except for the unusual ones like the doorvamp—simply smelled of vampire, like she smelled human. But the very young ones, they had a certain rotten-cabbage/putrid flesh smell that she always had to scrub three times over to get rid of. It was why she’d begun collecting the body washes and perfumes. After her initial contact with one of the newly Made, she’d thought she’d never get the smell out of her head.
“I didn’t think a hunter would be so disturbed at the sight of the just Made.” Raphael’s face appeared oddly shadowed, until she realized he’d raised his wings slightly.
Wondering if that implied focus or anger, she put down the glass. “I’m not, not really.” True enough now that that first, instinctive flash of disgust had passed. “It’s the smell…like a coating of fur on your tongue. No matter how hard you scrape, you can’t get it off.”
She shivered and looked around the table for something else to take the edge off. When he pushed a cut grapefruit in her direction, she dug into it with relish. “Uh-huh.” The citrus fruit’s acidic juices dampened the reek a little. At least enough that she could think.
“If I asked you to track Erik, could you?”
She shivered at the memory of those almost-dead/not-quite-alive eyes. No wonder people believed those stories about vampires being the walking dead. “No. I think he’s too young.”
“What about Bernal?”
“He’s on the bottom floor of the building right now.” The barely-Made vampire’s odor was so noxious, it permeated the building. “In the lobby.”
Golden tipped wings spread to shadow the table as Raphael put his hands together in a slow clap. “Well done, Elena. Well, done.”
She looked up from the grapefruit, belatedly aware she’d just proven how good she was when she should’ve flubbed it and gotten out of this, whatever “this” was. Shit. But at least he’d given her some idea of the job. “Do you want me to track a rogue?”
He rose from his chair in a sudden, liquid movement. “Wait a moment.”
She watched, transfixed, as he walked to the edge of the roof. He was a being of such incredible splendor that simply seeing him move made her heart squeeze. It didn’t matter that she knew it was a mirage, that he was as deadly as the filleting knife she carried strapped to her thigh. No one, not even she, could deny that Raphael the Archangel was a man made to be admired. To be worshipped.
That utterly wrong thought snapped her out of her dazed state. Pushing back her chair, she stared hard at his back. Had he been messing with her head? Right then, he turned and she met the agonizing blue of his eyes. For a second, she thought he was answering her question. Then he looked away…and walked off the roof.
She jumped up. Only to sit back down, blush reddening her cheeks, when he winged upward to meet an angel she hadn’t seen until that moment. Michaela. The female eq
I'm so excited to chat to you about Angels' Blood, the debut book in my Guild Hunter series.
Stories begin in different ways — with Angels' Blood, it was an avalanche of images in my mind, full of color and life. I could see Archangel Tower piercing the skyline, almost cruel in the purity of its stark lines, see, too, the angels who flew in to land on the tower roof, their wings shadows in the dark. I knew this was a world in which angels ruled over vampires…and that these angels were unsheathed blades, beings who could as easily kill as save.
Then I met Elena, and I understood that she had the courage, the strength, and the intelligence to go up against an archangel himself. I was drawn deeply into her past, her world — all of which helped shape the woman she is today. That woman isn't just a hunter, a tracker unparalleled in her skill. She's also a friend who'll do anything to protect those she loves.
As for Raphael — his history is more opaque. An archangel does not easily share his secrets. He is perhaps the most dangerous hero I've ever written, dark and sexy, and yes, deadly. Half the time, I was in the same boat as Elena — not sure if he'd decide to kiss her…or kill her.
Of course, Elena is hardly easy prey, not even for an archangel.
When I first began writing Angels' Blood, it was meant to be a stand-alone novel. But chapter by chapter, page by page, as I got to know both Elena and Raphael, as well as those around them, I had another idea, another avenue of thought, and realized there was no possible way I could stop with one book. I wanted to know what happened next! I began making notes on the second book (currently titled Angel's Kiss) almost as soon as I finished Angels' Blood.
Later, when my editor asked me to write a short novella set in the same world, I jumped at the chance. Angels' Pawn allowed me to spend further time with characters I first met in Angels' Blood, and the story took me all the way to Atlanta, and into the home of Nazarach, an angel who likes to play the most bloody kinds of games.
As I write this letter, I'm about to dive deep into writing Angel's Kiss, and guess what? I still can't wait to see what happens next! I hope that you feel the same way after reading Elena and Raphael's story.
I love hearing from readers, so feel free to drop me a note through my website if you have any questions or comments about Angels' Blood.
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