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Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter Book 1) Kindle Edition
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- Book 1 of 13 in A Guild Hunter Novel
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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.
Elena hadn’t spoken to her father in a decade.
“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.”
Open interest showed on his face. “The feeling is that intense?”
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 equivalent of Raphael, her beauty so intense that Elena could feel the force of it even from this distance. She had the startling realization that she was looking at a mid-air meeting between two archangels.
“Sara’s never going to believe this.” She forgot the stench of young vampire for the moment, her attention hijacked. She’d seen photos of Michaela, but they came nowhere close to the reality of her.
The other archangel had skin the color of the most exquisite, fine milk-chocolate and a shining fall of hair that cascaded to her waist in a wild mass. Her body was quintessentially female, slender and curvy at the same time, her wings a delicate bronze that shimmered against the richness of her skin. Her face… “Wow.” Even from this distance, Michaela’s face was perfection given form. Elena fancied she could see her eyes—a bright, impossible green—but knew she had to be imagining it. They were too far away.
It made little difference. The female archangel had a face that would not only stop traffic, it would cause a few pileups in the process.
Elena frowned. Despite her appreciation for Michaela’s looks, she was having no trouble thinking straight. Which meant the damn arrogant blue-eyed bastard had been fucking with her mind. He wanted her to worship him? They’d see about that.
No one, not even an archangel, was going to turn her into a puppet.
As if he’d heard her, Raphael said something to his fellow archangel and winged back down to the roof. His landing was a lot more showy this time. She was sure he paused to display the pattern on the inside surface of his wings. It was as if a brush dipped in gold had started at the top edge of each wing and then stroked downward, fading to white as it neared the bottom. In spite of her fury, she had to face the truth: If the devil—or an archangel—came to her and offered her wings, she might just sell him her soul.
But the angels didn’t Make other angels. They only made blood-drinking vampires. Where angels came from, no one knew. Elena guessed they were born to angelic parents…though, come to think of it, she’d never actually seen a baby angel.
Her thoughts derailed again as she watched the fluid grace of Raphael’s walk, so seductive…so perfect.
Standing up, she sent her chair crashing to the tiles. “Get. Out. Of. My. Head!”
Raphael came to a standstill. “Do you intend to use that knife?” His words were ice. She felt blood scent the air and realized it was her own.
Looking down, she found her hand clenching on the blade of the knife she’d drawn instinctively from the sheath at her ankle. She’d never have made such a mistake. He was forcing her to hurt herself, showing her she was nothing but a toy for him to play with. Instead of fighting, she squeezed harder. “If you want me to do a job for you, fine. But I won’t be manipulated.”
His eyes flicked over the blood seeping from her fist. He didn’t have to say anything.
“You might be able to control me,” she said, in response to the silent mockery on his face, “but if that would’ve gotten the job done, you’d have never gone through the farce of hiring me. You need me, Elena Deveraux, not one of your little vampire flunkies.”
Her hand unclenched in a violent spasm as he made her release the blade. It fell to the ground with a thud cushioned to softness by the blood that had pooled below. She didn’t move, didn’t attempt to stem the flow.
And when Raphael walked to stand less than a foot from her, she stood her ground.
“So, you think you have me over a barrel?” The sky was a seamless blue but Elena felt storm winds whip her hair completely out of its coil.
“No.” She let his scent—clean, bright, of the sea—settle over the lingering coat of vampire on her tongue. “I’m ready to walk away without a backward look, return the deposit you paid the Guild.”
“That,” he said, picking up a napkin and wrapping it around her hand, “is not an option.”
Startled by the unexpected act, she closed her hand to help slow the bleeding. “Why not?”
“I want you to do this,” he responded, as if that was reason enough. And for an archangel, it was.
“What’s the job? Retrieval?”
Relief began to wash through her like the rain she could feel so close. But no, it was his scent, that fresh bite of water. “All I need to start with, is something the vampire wore recently. If you have a general location, even better. If not, I’ll get the Guild’s computer geniuses on tracking public transport and bank records etcetera, while I hunt on the ground.” Her mind was already at work, considering and discarding options.
“You mistake me, Elena. It’s not a vampire I want you to find.”
That halted her in her tracks. “You’re looking for a human? Well, I can do it but I really don’t have any advantage over a good private investigator.”
Not vampire. Not human. That left…“An angel?” she whispered. “No.”
“No,” he agreed and, once again, she felt the cool brush of relief. It lasted until he said, “An archangel.”
Elena stared at him. “You’re joking.”
His cheekbones stood out starkly against the sun-kissed smoothness of his skin. “No. The Cadre of Ten does not joke.”
Her stomach curdled at the reference to the Cadre—if Raphael was any example of their lethal power, she never wanted to meet that august body. “Why are you tracking an archangel?”
“That, you do not need to know.” His tone was final. “What you do need to know is that if you succeed in finding him, you’ll be rewarded with more money than you can hope to spend in your lifetime.”
Elena glanced at the bloodstained napkin. “And if I fail?”
“Don’t fail, Elena.” His eyes were mild but his smile, it spoke of things better not said aloud. “You intrigue me—I’d hate to have to punish you.”
Her mind flashed to that image of the vampire in Times Square, that broken mess that had once been a person…Raphael’s definition of punishment.--This text refers to the audio_download edition.
- ASIN : B001RDCJBW
- Publisher : Berkley; Original edition (February 2, 2009)
- Publication date : February 2, 2009
- Language: : English
- File size : 704 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 372 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #31,375 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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There was finally a tiny bit of plot introduced near page 200, and even then the lead character kept forgetting about tracking down the killer because she was so overwhelmed with lust for the "romantic" lead. The sex scenes weren't even remotely arousing. I can enjoy a well-written sex scene. These just bored and aggravated me. I don't understand how this book has such a high rating.
The "story" made me think that whoever wrote this book was badly abused by her father as a child, and so she equates emotional abuse with "love". In case you don't already know, ABUSE IS NOT LOVE. Whether it's your father or your lover, anyone who treats you badly or makes you feel bad about yourself, does NOT love you. Don't waste your time with them.
It seems the big thing with urban fantasy now is sex. Feminine POV sex. If I had to read one more time how “wet” Elena was I was going to vomit. I learned to anticipate and skip those episodes (seemed to be about a 1/3 of the story?).
Ok, with that off my chest...the book presents an interesting premise, I guess. An alternate world ruled by “angels & vampires.” These “angles” are not heavenly but appear to be a higher form of vampire from whom all other vampires are spawned. Like I said, interesting premise.
Unfortunately the author choses to spend all of her time developing the sexual content of the primary relationships and not the characters or the plot.
This was a “I need to download something before boarding a plane purchase.” IMHO, this one is truly 1 or 2 stars
The book was based on a action type story which is great, and initially I wasn't sure if the supernatural world was made known to 'normal' humans, but you later discover that it was and that Archangels and Angels were living amongst the humans on earth.
The author tried to bring in an element of steam into the novel, but for me something was lacking and it seems to happen and then dissipate just as quickly.
I didn't feel a real connection between the characters, but overall I did enjoy the book.
When I saw the prices of the next books in this series I realised that (for me) it wasn't worth the cost - currency/exchange rates taken into consideration as well.
It's a lot more expensive that my most favourite author's books and I may have considered purchasing, even at the inflated price, if I was completely engrossed in the novel.
I don't want to complain too much since it takes skill to write a book and create these worlds and characters, but for me it wasn't gripping enough to justify the cost of the next books in the series and I did feel like the characters just sort of fell in love at the end of the book with very little build up.
I had a bit of whiplash.
This world is really interesting. Vampires are created by angels that are very much a part of the everyday life. When an angel makes a vampire, the vamp agrees to 100 years of service in return. Some vamps change their mind about that service and take off. That's where the hunters come in.
Elena is a hunter born meaning she's able to track vampires better than your average hunter. She can scent them. Human and from a family that's not happy with her "choice" of employment, she's one badass hunter.
Raphael is not just an angel but an archangel. He's come into that power after hundreds of years of being an angel. His past experience with human women is not a happy one but he's very drawn to Elena despite needing her for a hunt that might get her killed.
This author is a master at creating dynamic worlds, rich with the promise of many wonderful stories to come. A paranormal world that lives very much in our own world with just a few additions to our history books, it creates a comfortable and satisfying place for the drama to unfold.
I enjoyed Elena and Raphael's story but what surprised me was that their story isn't over. This series doesn't have different couples for each book set in this exciting world. No, it looks like at least the first three are about this couple. Somehow that just made me sad. It was clear they still had story left. Their relationship isn't quite right at the end. These two have dominance issues. The badass in Elena gets in the way of the power that is an archangel. It's just not a stable ending for them. But I do like a couple to be settled at the end of a book.
I may read the next book but not right away. While I enjoyed this one, it just didn't compel me to rip open the next book. Maybe I'm just not a vampire girl. Maybe I'm just not an angel girl. Most likely, I'm just not in the mood to read on right now.
Top reviews from other countries
Hooks you immediately - and yes, I have now bought all the existing 9 books despite my internal war against the expense when I get so many free books - and have a library waiting for reading!
Where to start?
The main area of action is New York (and its surroundings. In this multiverse, Angels and Archangels are real beings. Possibly an alien race but even they are not sure. A race that is effectively immortal, although after many thousands of years they tend to get tired of existence and go to Sleep.
No-one knows how many Angels and Archangels Sleep, nor where or even how this Sleep is maintained. It is possible, their history says, for an Angel who is asleep to wake and Sleep again many times but...
Archangels, by virtue of their long life, effective immortality (immune to disease, can regenerate limb and wings etc) rule the world in 10 different sectors, divided roughly equally.
There are also Vampires ‘Made’ by the Angels mostly as servants. Vampires are also effectively immortal - unless you cut their heads off and incinerate them. But yes, they can walk in the sunlight and perform normal tasks, they just live a long time as long as they drink a little blood.
From time to time, vampires get blood lust and start to kill instead of just drinking, and then they are Hunted. Which is where our heroine Elena comes in. She is our Wonder Woman archetype. She is strong, fast, exceptional at her job of tracking, and lovely too. And the Archangel ruling New York becomes rather a fan... even if he is rather a frightening character.
This is a series that really grips. I didn’t believe the reviews but now I do!
Badass female MC – ✔
Annoying Love Interest – ✔. Admittedly, why they’re annoying varies. This one is a won’t take no for an answer sort, but there’s a weird reason for that I won’t spoil.
The third male, who isn’t a love interest at all, but wants in the MC’s pants too – ✔
However, some were flipped on their head, and for that, I’m super happy. It’s what redeemed it for me. I definitely can’t go into detail without major spoilers, but let’s just say, something I’ve wanted to happen in all these paranormal romance books, finally happened!
I enjoyed the world that has been built here too. Angels, archangels and vampires are all common knowledge. The unique thing, or at least new to me, is that only angels turn vampires.
The thing is, whilst I do want to read on, I also don’t. The book had a happy ending, where I can make up some, they lived happily ever after bs. I really liked the ending, but it’s not encouraging me to read on, so I also don’t know how to feel about it.
Overall, I’m giving this a 4.5/5. I think my issues with it are because I’ve read about 10 books along the same lines recently. This might’ve been the best of the lot of them.
I enjoyed the world that the author created fro her characters to inhabit. She sketches it in quickly and everything that then happens is consistent. Elena is a compelling character. She is strong and independent but not stupid and thankfully not one of those female urban fantasy heroines who sounds off at everyone all the time. He growing attachment to Raphael is well done and as we see part of the story from his point of view we begin to understand that what Elena thinks she knows about angels may not be entirely true.
This is a story in itself but it is very obviously the start of a series and there are some exciting developments at the end of the book which mean that I have already obtained the next in the series to see what happens !
Well......i thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down. Angels are a little new to me but there are also vampires.....with a different spin on them, which was surprising.
The characters were great to read about and the world Nalini has created was wonderful.
There is lots of action, drama, humorous banter between the characters, excellent side characters which i can't wait to get stuck into their stories. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good para-romance with a strong female character who remains true to her personality throughout the story......and of course a handsome archangel.
Now to get the next!