Desert Isle Keeper

Archangel's Viper

Nalini Singh

I’ve probably re-read each of Nalini Singh’s books at least once. Between the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Hard series she’s written thirty novels and novellas -so… yeah, that’s a lot of time I’ve spent in her worlds. So be warned – unbiased as I try to be, this review of Archangels’s Viper  is definitely coming from a fan. Second warning: it’s the nature of this series that each book builds off of the others; political intrigue is a big part of the atmosphere here, and if you try to begin with this book you’ll miss out on a lot.

In book one, Angel’s Blood, Holly Chang, experiences a life-altering trauma. Specifically, the young Holly was kidnapped and tortured by the maddened archangel Uram. No one, not even Holly, knows everything that happened to her during that time, but when she was rescued by Raphael and his consort Elena, it became obvious that she had been altered. For a time Holly was deeply depressed in the aftermath of her kidnapping, struggling to cope with the strange new abilities and vampirism that Uram cursed her with. Among these new abilities was a poison in her bite, somewhat like that of Venom, which is why he was chosen as Holly’s first tutor in the world of immortals.

Venom is one of the Seven, the elite group of vampires that make up Archangel Raphael’s private guard, who, unlike the newly created Holly, is a centuries old vampire. At the start of this story, he is finally returning to New York after spending almost two years abroad. He has kept up with Holly via weekly phone calls, but has been unable to meet her in person throughout that time. The two instantly fall back into their old habit of baiting each other, but it becomes clear almost immediately that something about their dynamic has changed. Holly has gained maturity and control in the time that Venom has been away, and where they were once teacher and student, they are now equals.

That might seem to leave room for romantic attachment – and it does – but Holly and Venom are unable to act on any feelings they may have as it becomes clear that Holly’s condition is getting worse. Whatever Uram did to her four years ago is continuing to cause changes in her body, and it’s not something Holly can control or understand. Together, she and Venom begin a search for answers which takes them far from New York.

Archangel’s Viper is a slow-burn romance, in large part due to Holly’s struggles. Neither she nor Venom is ready to confront their feelings while everything is so uncertain, so they just let things simmer. Eventually the two decide that the only thing to do when the future is uncertain is admit to your feelings, but I liked that they took the time to investigate Holly’s condition before jumping into bed. They even make jokes about people who get amorous at critical moments in an escape, which reinforces that this isn’t just insta-lust; it’s two individuals who truly care about each other and care about surviving in order to be together.

The characters themselves are solid additions to the Guild Hunter world. Venom, like most of Raphael’s Seven, is an almost perfect specimen of a vampire. He has abilities beyond the norm, is strong without being hard, and allows himself to be vulnerable once he’s comfortable with Holly. While I liked all of this, I’ll admit to wanting to mess him up a little – he may have regrets about the past, but Venom doesn’t seem to struggle with anything in his present life. This gave him more time to focus on Holly, which was all to the better, but did leave him feeling a little too perfect for my taste.

Holly doesn’t have this problem. She’s openly flawed, doubting herself after her experience with Uram, and still learning how to balance her human family life and instincts with the new reality of vampiric life. In spite of all this doubt and uncertainty, though, she fairly explodes off the page with her strong personality. Most of the time my mental images of characters are blurry, but I can clearly picture the whorl of rainbow color that is Holly. She made this book shine, both as a character critical to the central plot and as someone who jumped off the page in her own right.

I would definitely recommend this book to any current Nalini Singh fans, and would recommend the series to anyone interested in a good paranormal romance. I can’t conceive of how Ms. Singh keeps coming up with new ideas for her books and all the intrigues within them, but I just hope they keep coming. And until then, I’ll be adding Archangel’s Viper to the reread pile.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Alexandra Anderson

Grade :     A-

Sensuality :      Warm

Book Type :     

Review Tags :     

Recent Comments


  1. Stl-Reader
    Stl-Reader October 11, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Hi, Since AAR has a review of this book already, I’ll post my comments here instead of on the message boards.

    I just finished Archangel’s Viper, a book I’ve been looking forward to for a while now! I hate to admit that I found it kind of …. draggy. Took me a week to finish.

    There was a lot of description going on that I could have done without. In fact, that might be what made the search to resolve Holly’s big problem seem to take forever. Just lots of description and explanation with comparatively little dialog and meaningful interaction between Venom and Holly, IMHO.

    My biggest issue, though, was with Holly. Her character disappointed me. She’s in her 20s. We are told that she was “Made” at age 23 and looks very, very young–like she was turned into a vampire before she had a chance to grow any sort of “womanly curves,” etc. And a lot of what she says or thinks about Venom is kind of inane stuff along the lines of “You’re so pretty!” Everything about her screamed teenager to me, her terrible ordeal notwithstanding. Frankly, I felt she was way too young for Venom. I never quite connected with their “romance.” Nalini Singh tried hard to tell me they were deeply in love, etc. but I just wasn’t feeling it.

    Finally, the discovery of what was happening to Holly seemed a bit anticlimactic. And the way it was resolved allowed her to conveniently remain a good match for Venom in certain respects.

    My rating for this book, if I had to rate it, would be 6.5 or 7 out of 10. At times I felt the author was phoning it in, making me think “haven’t I already read this dialog or these descriptions or this H/h interaction in another GH or P/C Singh book?” I really wanted to like it more as I’ve always been intrigued by Venom.

  2. mel burns October 12, 2017 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Holly and Venom’s story should of been a novella, the couple didn’t merit a “whole” book IMO. It seems to me Singh is losing steam in all her series, It’s time to end them and start fresh. I feel like she’s “just stringing us along” until she figures out what to do with Aodhan and Ilium.

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