Archangel's Assassin, Barbara Elsborg

Archangel's Assassin by [Elsborg, Barbara]

Um, shocked, I am, utterly shocked that I enjoyed this story as much as I did.  It honestly felt like I was reading two different stories with all the same people.  In the beginning it was dark, gritty, vicious, violent, and mysterious.  Once we find out who Tao is, though, things become light, confusing, melodramatic, sappy, hopeful, and uplifting.  Despite the story having Dissociative Identity Disorder I found myself drawn into their world through Tao's magnetic charm and West's dickish surliness.  Like I said, shocked.

Tao is bright and positive and completely at the mercy of the streets.  Waking up with no memory and no sense of who you are, why you're under a tree in Hyde Park, and whether or not you're worth being found or even if there's anyone to look for you isn't easy, after all.  Clever signs and non-begging begging to scrape enough cash for food and a meager contribution to a communal living situation dominate Tao's current existence.  Until one day when he steals a wallet to return it to the original owner.

That owner is the darkly handsome West.  West isn't all that he appears and has a rather interesting job as an Archangel's Assassin.  His job is to be the hitman for an angel, to carry out justice in the supernatural world.  Well, that's his main job.  His other job is on the down low because it could get his immortal soul thrust right into hell, no passing go, no collecting $200.  And that would be quite inconvenient because that's the exact fate he's trying to save his brother from.  So why is he so drawn to the man who retrieved his wallet?  He certainly didn't need help getting it back in the first place, but by deciding to let things play out as they did he finds himself inconveniently invested in the homeless hottie.

West rescues Tao from his living situation with intentions for a quick screw before tossing him back out...or so he likes to tell himself.  Tao is a bit overwhelmed by everything that is West and doesn't want to deny himself anymore by holding back.  So with all the awkwardly cute intensity he possesses he throws himself at West.  At first it's horrible.  But unaware that he sees West, the true West under the facade given to him and the blustery badass he puts on himself, he decides to stick it out.  With nothing more than the desire to give West something to smile about he sticks around and goes about making himself useful and indispensable.

So there's the big mystery of who and what Tao is, what West does and why, the machinations of some unseen being or force messing with West and the archangels, and how everything is connected.  As the story moves forward and goes about answering those questions we see the dark and gritty world West lives in.  Tao is shocked but determined to stay with West because if anyone needed lightness and respite, it's West.  Add in crazy amounts of sexy times and you've got a dark and wickedly erotic story.  Also a bit disturbing.  I mean, "Oh, is that a gargoyle finger in your leg?  Here, let me cut that out before we get back to the sexy times," and then let's use that finger to stab a demon.

And then we get the answers.  Convoluted, super tangled, unnecessarily tragic.  Once everything comes to light Tao becomes quite confident, decisive, and moves quickly to get things resolved.  West becomes fearful, protective, quietly sappy.  When Raphael  gets all the confessions and reveals he's both thrilled and exceedingly fearful.  I teared up majorly when West had to carry out the unthinkable.  Both moving and heartbreaking.  The resolution was equally sweet and hopeful.  With the very end being in Raphael's POV we get to see something close to a real conclusion that's filled with feels, connection, forgiveness, and hope.  Such a complete opposite of what the story began with and yet shockingly awesome.

*Ride the insane roller coaster that is West and Tao's journey
only $4.97
 Archangel's Assassin, Barbara Elsborg

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