“We all know Her Creepiness isn’t dead.” Elena’s lip curled at the thought of the archangel who’d sought to rain death on New York, and whose reborn were shambling mockeries of life. “That would be too easy.”
“Regardless, something must be done.” Raphael’s face was all brutally clean lines, his expression that of a being who was one of the most powerful in the world. “Xi is keeping Lijuan’s territory in check, the vampires under control, but for all his strength, he is no archangel. China is beginning to fray at the edges.”
Elena had no need to ask him how he knew—Jason was the best spymaster in the Cadre and he called Raphael sire. “You’re worried about bloodlust?” Powerful vampires like Raphael’s second, Dmitri, had iron control over their urge to feed, but the newer, younger vamps? Control was a gossamer-thin thread held in place by fear of the archangels.
Elena’s mother and two older sisters were dead because a vampire had broken the leash and turned into a ravening monster.
Belle would never again throw a baseball because of Slater Patalis. Ari would never again scold then kiss Elena when she ran so fast that she fell and bloodied her knee.
And Marguerite Deveraux would never again laugh with her husband.
A husband who had died the day Marguerite took her life and who was now a man Elena barely recognized. Jeffrey might be walking and breathing, might even have another beautiful, intelligent wife, but he was no longer the man Marguerite had known, no longer the father Elena had loved before it all went so horribly wrong. Elena’s two much younger half sisters knew a stern, unsmiling, and distant father when Elena had known a father who’d once blown soap bubbles with her for an hour just because it made her happy.
I see memories in your eyes, Elena.
Raphael’s voice was the crash of the sea, the crisp bite of the wind in her mind.
They’re part of me. She’d accepted that, no longer fought them when they surfaced. And in return, the nightmares came less and less. Some nights, she still heard the blood dripping to the floor, still felt terror clutch her in a clawed fist until she woke sweat-soaked with her heart a painful drum in her chest, but other nights, she dreamed of racing through the house to hide behind her mother after Belle found her in her room.
“I was a bratty little sister sometimes,” she told the man who was her eternity. “I just wanted so much to be like my sisters that I’d sneak into their rooms and try on their shoes, their clothes, even if they didn’t fit.”
Raphael touched the back of his hand to her cheek. “Such is the way of younger siblings everywhere, is it not?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Her lips kicked up, though sadness was an iron hammer on her soul. “Belle was so hot-tempered. She’d threaten me with all sorts of things . . . then she’d take my hand and lead me to her room and do my nails or brush my hair.” Her oldest sister had possessed a wildly generous heart under the temper.
“I didn’t bother Ariel as much,” Elena added. “She was calmer, quieter, but she had this mischievous sense of humor only people who really knew her ever saw.” Memories cascaded through her, of helping Ari pull pranks, of sitting close to her sister’s warmth while she read a story aloud, of the stunning turquoise of Ari’s eyes.
Smile deepening as the wind rippled through her hair, she took a breath, released it. “I wish I could talk to Jeffrey sometimes,” she admitted. “He has so many of the same memories, things Beth wasn’t old enough to remember.” Her younger sister had been only five when Slater Patalis murdered Belle and Ari, and mortally wounded Marguerite’s soul.
He’d tortured her, too, but it was being made helpless while her daughters were brutalized that had broken Elena’s mother. “It’d be nice just to sit and talk about our family.” Instead, all they had between them were broken shards of grief and guilt and loss.
The blue of Raphael’s eyes turned dangerous. “He doesn’t deserve to carry the title of father.”
“Ah but we don’t choose our parents, do we, Archangel?” If anyone understood the complex emotions that tied her to her father, it was Raphael. His own mother had gone insane, murdered thousands, then risen over a millennia later apparently sane—and full of love for the child she’d once left shattered and bleeding in a remote field distant from any civilization.
“No,” Raphael admitted. “And I have promised not to kill Jeffrey, so let’s talk about something else before I forget my vow.”
“Fair enough.” At times, thinking of her father was enough to turn Elena homicidal, too. “Getting back to Lijuan—whether she’s dead or not matters less than the fact she’s vanished from sight?”
A short nod. “Bloodlust has already begun to rise, though only in isolated patches. According to the report Jason sent in an hour ago, a small kiss of vampires massacred an entire village four days past.”
Elena’s spine went stiff. “Xi have the kiss under control?” The angel was Lijuan’s most trusted general and a power in his own right—though he was nowhere near as powerful on his own as he was when Lijuan was feeding him energy. “Shit. Is Xi displaying signs of being cut off from Lijuan?”
“Jason has been unable to confirm either way, but Xi did eliminate the kiss very quickly.” Raphael’s tone cooled. “He can’t keep it up, however. No one who is not Cadre can. And these incidents are only the start—let it go and the vampires will swarm a blood red infestation across China.” His voice was so cold that she found herself running her hand firmly down the edge of his wing in a silent reminder that he wasn’t only an archangel, distant and lethal; he was her lover, the man who owned her heart and whose own belonged to her.
Raphael’s expression didn’t change, his voice still chilly, but he moved his wing so she could caress more of it. “If Lijuan rises again, new decisions will be made, but for the time being, we must work on the assumption that she overextended her new abilities to the point that she caused herself significant damage.” He nodded in greeting at a passing squadron. “I do not believe her dead any more than you do, but I do think she may have chosen to Sleep.”
And when an angel chose to Sleep, it could be centuries or millennia before they awoke. Caliane had Slept for more than a thousand years, and that was barely a drop in the ocean. “I guess I better pack for the Refuge then.” Raphael’s earlier words had made it clear he wouldn’t be asking her to remain behind in New York, as he had more than once before.
At first, she’d fought the restraint, frustratingly conscious that he wanted her safe within the borders of his territory rather than in danger by his side. Later, she’d come to understand that, at certain times, Raphael needed his consort to be visible in the heart of his territory while he was gone. It settled people, because surely no archangel would leave his consort behind were the storm clouds of war gathering on the horizon?
“It’ll be nice to see Jessamy and Galen again,” she said. “Naasir and Andi, too.” Venom was also still at the Refuge, but Elena didn’t know the snake-eyed vampire as well as she did the others.
Raphael’s response was unexpected. “I’m afraid we will have to wait to see our people at the Refuge. This meeting will be held on neutral ground, with no access to any strongholds or armies. Each archangel can bring their consort should they have one, plus one other.”
Elena felt like she was racing to catch up. “I didn’t know there was any other neutral ground.” The world was sharply delineated into areas of archangelic control. The Refuge alone stood separate.
“There are a rare few small areas,” Raphael told her. “Mere acres in each case. In this particular circumstance, it is the land that was given over to the Luminata so long ago that no one knows the names of those on the Cadre that made the decree.”
“Lumia, the Luminata stronghold, stands in the land your grandmother called home.”
“Morocco?” Delight kicked her bloodstream. “I love Morocco!” Though she had no ties there, she’d passed through the country during her days as a single hunter, felt its heartbeat sync with her own, as if her blood recognized the hot, desert land filled with a stark, golden beauty.
“From the covert flyover I did when I was a youth,” Raphael told her with a smile, “Lumia is located on a hilly rise, an elegant stronghold that has stood for eons. There are no roads to break up the wilderness that surrounds it—to visit Lumia, you must have wings or you must brave a harsh trek made no less difficult by the high walls on the very edges of their land.”
Elena was about to ask him to tell her more when her brain finally clicked. “Hold on,” she said with a scowl, placing her hands on her hips again. “Yeah, people can’t bring armies but Charisemnon’s will be closer than anyone else’s.” The disease-causing and cowardly bastard responsible for the horror of the Falling, an event that had seen New York’s angels plummet to the earth in an agony of fear and suffering and death, was the Archangel of Northern Africa.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Raphael’s own anger was frost in the air. “But Titus will no doubt mass his army on Charisemnon’s border when he leaves for the meeting, forcing Charisemnon to do the same or leave his border open to Titus.”
“I always knew I liked Titus.” Elena bared her teeth. “When do we leave?”
“Unless one of the Cadre refuses to attend, we go on the dawn.”
Implicit were the words that if someone did say no, it could set in motion a chain of immortal violence that would end with a devastated world. Because when archangels fought, people died and cities fell.
Raphael’s response was silent, his wing brushing hers as he . . .
“Raphael!” The damn archangel had dusted her.
Glittering, sparkly stuff stuck to her, delicious beyond compare when she parted her mouth and it licked onto her tongue. Her thighs clenched. “This is not funny!” She glared at him even as arousal flooded her system, but he was laughing too hard to care.
Her heart, it just stopped.
Even now, the Archangel of New York rarely laughed and never like this. Until she could see the youth he must’ve once been, with eyes of a wild, astonishing blue that asked a woman to laugh with him. She’d never before seen him as truly young. How could she? He had so much power that it pulsed in his every touch, burned in his skin.
Hauling him close to her with her hands fisted in the cream linen of his shirt, she took a kiss, took him. He sank into her, his wings sweeping up to wrap around her until all she could sense was Raphael, all she could taste was him. And angel dust. The special blend he’d created just for her.
He pushed one hand into her hair, fisting it as he wrapped his other arm around her waist and backed her up against a wall. Something fell with a dull thud. Maybe the vivid painting of wildflowers that had just been put up, all the art having been taken down during the repainting.
Elena loved that simple piece Honor had found in a thrift shop, but right now, it could’ve been a priceless artwork by the Hummingbird and she wouldn’t have cared. She was far too happy to be pressed up against the hard warmth of her archangel tip to toe after spending the previous night on watch. No time for shenanigans with Dmitri away and Illium off- shift, Aodhan assigned to patrol the sea border, and Raphael dealing with the overall security situation.
She’d flown a proper defense grid, both to stay in practice and because none of them could afford to be blasé with the Cascade an unpredictable foe that could unleash itself at any moment, smashing the world back into chaos and, possibly, war.
Today, however, the others were on‑shift and she could kiss her lover. He burned hot, Raphael, but he was a crashing sea in her mind, a tumultuous, passionate storm that swept her up and thundered through her veins.
We can talk to Dmitri later, she sent to Raphael, sliding her hands up the ridges and valleys of his chest. Let’s go upstairs to our suite.
She tried to ignore that pointed cough that held a biting amusement.
Raphael’s lips smiled against hers. I think my second has other ideas.
“Singh’s Guild Hunter novels are known for their darkly intense worldbuilding and for their exquisite romanticism, especially between the couple at the heart of the series, Raphael and Elena…Singh explores power, love, and redemption with her typical consummate skill.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“I’m going to say right off the bat that this is a “who needs sleep anyway” book. Once you start it, you won’t want to stop reading it. I know I didn’t…There was no doubt in my mind that Archangel’s Heart has leaped to the top of my favorites by this author, and I love all of her books for different reasons. Of course I’m Joyfully Recommending Archangel’s Heart as a must read.”
– Joyfully Reviewed
“The evolution of the relationship between [Raphael and Elena] has been utterly riveting as they have each grown in significant ways. Their journey of emotional discovery only heightens the impact of the danger they face in this world in flux. Pure reading pleasure. “
– Romantic Times (Top Pick)
“Ms. Singh is a masterful storyteller, and her abilities truly shine in Archangel’s Heart. In the end, Archangel’s Heart is a fabulous story, filled with action, suspense, and genuine love. “
– Twimom227“Singh’s “Guild Hunter” and “Psy-Changeling” series are required purchases for any collection offering paranormal romance, and this latest entry continues to set the bar high with romance, intrigue, and stellar worldbuilding.”– Library Journal“Nalini Singh’s writing style is so gentle, it’s like a friend whispering in your ear. Slowly she sucks you in, and it’s not until the end you realise you’ve been subsumed. Hence at 2am I’m reading ‘just one more chapter’. When I finish a Nalini Singh book there’s a sadness, I’ve lost that friend’s voice in my ear.”– Big Little Sister“…I absolutely loved this book but that’s no surprise because Nalini definitely spins a great tale that always leaves me satisfied and wanting more.”– Blogger Girls“Nalini does her usual superlative job at world building, and the stresses and thrills interspersed with beauty, love and friendship hit all the right notes. Singh has created a masterful symphony of angelic war and immortal love in Archangel’s Heart.”– Fresh Fiction
“I quickly got wrapped up in the story and didn’t want to put it down…reader beware, you may fall in love with more than just this book. You may fall in love with the world in which it is set.”
– Night Owl Reviews
1. Angels’ Blood
2. Archangel’s Kiss
3. Archangel’s Consort
4. Archangel’s Blade
5. Archangel’s Storm
6. Archangel’s Legion
7. Archangel’s Shadows
8. Archangel’s Enigma
9. Archangel’s Heart
10. Archangel’s Viper (2017)
Guild Hunter Novellas
1. Angels’ Pawn (available as an e-book on its own, and as part of Angels’ Flight)
2. “Angels’ Judgment” in Angels’ Flight (originally part of the Must Love Hellhounds anthology)
3. “Angel’s Wolf” in Angels’ Flight (originally part of the Angels of Darkness anthology)
4. “Angels’ Dance” in Angels’ Flight
Book 9: the Guild Hunter series
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh takes us into a dangerous and exhilarating world where a deadly, beautiful archangel and his once-mortal consort are caught in a fury of twisted darkness…
One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.
Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…
Nothing will ever be the same again.