Archangel's Blade is book 4 of Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series. I want to begin this review by saying that I went into this book with some pretty conflicted feelings. After Archangel's Consort I felt that a change in main characters could be a really good thing for the series. On the other hand, Dmitri was not at all one of my favorite characters. My reviews of the first three books can be found HERE. I highly recommend reading the series in order.
Honor is a hunter, one who's been out of commission for quite awhile due to having been kidnapped and brutalized by deviant vampires. In an attempt to pull her back into reality, her boss assigns her to a case that requires her to work with Dmitri. Dmitri, the darkly sexy second-in-command of New York City, finds Honor captivating. He takes the horrors committed against Honor quite seriously, and vows to see the culprits hunted down and punished. The bulk of the book revolves around solving the case to which Honor was assigned, as well as hunting down all of her tormentors.
Overall, the book had a really great balance of external and internal conflict. The characters develop in a way that feels natural, and in response to events of the book.
The sex scenes are hot, but not overused. Given Dmitri's personality, I expected lots of senseless sex and bondage. Instead, we only get the scenes that further the development of the relationship.
I really enjoyed the revenge plot. I'm sure this says something nasty about me, but I liked the process of bringing the evil characters to justice.
I loved Dmitri's back story. You get to learn about his wife and children, how he lost them, and how he became a vampire. I found these parts tragic and captivating.
This book is nominally a paranormal romance, and a dark one at that. I've come to expect a little horror in my PNRs, and I enjoy it. But horror is a strong ingredient, and one has to be careful about overusing it in a novel like this, because it can easily overwhelm everything else. Nalini Singh walks a fine line, and there were times when I did feel like her use of violence was a bit gratuitous. It didn't damage the story too much, but it bares mentioning as a tiny flaw.
There were some pacing issues. It felt like this book had no distinct climax, or perhaps had three separate ill timed climaxes. There were too many conflicts, and their resolution felt a bit disorganized. To specify further would mean spoiling things, so I'll just leave it at that.
Finally, the relationship was not entirely satisfying. Honor and Dmitri certainly have chemistry. It's obvious that they care for one another. But there's a certain lack of tenderness or intimacy in their interactions. Again, I think it's partly an issue of pace. I was much more invested in Dmitri's connection to his wife, Ingrede.
I'm pleased with this book. While it's not as good as the first two Guild Hunter books, but it's a solid improvement on Archangel's Consort. I recommend it. 3.5 stars.