I've made it pretty clear that I think the Guild Hunter's series is fantastic. That I recommend it to everyone who will listen. That I'm pretty sure, I'm going to be Elena this halloween. But no matter how much I may love the first in a series, I've come to expect a "soft" book 2. I love when I'm wrong!
Elena has become the first "made" angel in history. She's awakened from her year coma an angel with a human's heart. Raphael has taken her to the Refuge, the angel's version of Club Med, to train and teach and protect her. But with Elena as his mate, Raphael has given his enemies a surefire way to weaken him body and soul. Many new players have appeared with their own set of motives, set on taking Elena away from him.
Singh is a skilled fantasy writer. She describes the Refuge like a historian would describe the lost city of Machu Picchu, or the ruins of Pompei. Her descriptions fill your mind with images of waterfalls, ancient structures, and sunlit gardens. I came to think of the Refuge as a tempting version of Heaven, even though it was constantly filled with espionage and murder.
Raphael and Elena's characters go through some major changes within the story. And I think Singh did a great job of maintaining the integrity of both of them. Raphael has "become a little human". He finds himself struggling with feelings of concern, and something that borders on compassion. These sensations bring up a lot of images and emotions from his childhood and the few snippets of info we get say a lot about his personality. Now, don't go worrying that he's become some mushy anti-hero, because that is not the case. Raphael still infuriates and annoys at times, but his love for Elena has definitely changed him.
Elena obviously changes the most throughout the story. She's an angel now for crying out loud. In her new form Elena is struggling. In the beginning she can barely walk or lift her arms. In think it's important to see a kick-ass heroines turn weak for a bit. And as bad as it sounds, it was interesting to watch her like this. Trust is not really an issue for Elena, but dependancy is a whole other subject. So, waking up and discovering you can't do it all by yourself anymore is a big shock.
Like Raphael, Elena is being inundated with memories from her childhood. She continues to have flashbacks of the night her family was killed, and makes some shocking realizations. The flashbacks are gut-wrenching, and I almost wish they took place in the next story. (By the end, you understand why they're in the story) This horrible event in Elena's life is a huge part of who she is, and mixed with the ongoing plot and the changes she's making to fit in with her new angel lifestyle, it seemed to be the 3rd most important part of the story.
The on-going plot was a little tepid. Granted, it always keeps you guessing and wondering and trying to figure out, but it wasn't what I enjoyed most in the book. When I think back of the book it seems almost insignificant. Having said that, the ending was genius. Looking back, the ending was hinted at the entire book, right under my nose, but up until 2 pages before the reveal I swear I didn't see it coming. I love that!
Bottom Line: The chemistry between Raphel & Elena continues to sizzle, and the changes their facing is something to watch.