Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.
As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.
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* Spoiler Review*
Usually, I don’t do spoiler reviews, but this is my all-time favourite author and I cannot help be depict this book without spoiling it! So I apologise to those who wanted a spoiler-free review, but I just can’t help myself…
Over the last 13 books in the Archangel Series, we have got a flavour for Illium and Aodhan. They have a tight-knit bond that blurs the lines of friendship. But history has forced this relationship into new territory, now that Aodhan has found his strength again it feels as though Illium could be losing the one thing in his life that matters the most. Especially since Aodhan has taken up the mantle of being a temporary second for the Archangel of China.
I know I am not the only fan to say that we have been waiting for Illium and Aodhan story since the first three books! For a while I didn’t really pick up on the love interest between Illium and Aodhan, Singh eluded a little to a brotherly bond but only in the last two books did I realise that there is a love interest between them (sorry slow on the uptake with this one!)
Illium is a fun flirtatious character who uses his charm to hide his deep insecurities, he is also on the cusp of ascending. Aodhan is a quiet reclusive artist who had suffered a the hands of vicious torture in his youth, now, after 200 years he has taken up the mantle of being present in the world. Illium and Aodhan have been close friends since they were babies, the bond is so strong and unique others cannot find words to describe their relationship.
Ok, so that’s a little bit about their characters. Now into the good stuff. The book is set in China post Archangels War, Aodhan is helping Suyrin the new Archangel of China help rebuild her territory. While he is thriving in his position as second, he is missing his home and especially Illium who has started becoming cold and distant. The whole plot of this book is the miscommunication between Illium and Aodhan, and I am here for it!
You do learn about the aftermath of the war and there is a side quest that involves the two. Throughout the book, you learn of Illium and Aodhan pasts and what makes them who they are today. It’s about 3/4 of the way through the book that you get a little bit of romance, and to be honest I am not mad about it.
From memory, I believe this is Singh’s first male/male romance, which I was a little hesitant about. I don’t know who said it, but I do find that the best LBGTQ+ books are better when the author is one. Because their gaze comes from the same space/experience and they place an authentic view. But I felt Singh did a really good job of writing Illium and Aodhan story.
The level of spice in this book is very low, which is unusual for Singh. I think she was taking the approach of their love being very naive and innocent, I mean it took them 500 years to realise they were meant for each other!
Overall, I finished the book with a smile on my face and love in my heart. Utterly satisfied! The only question now is, is that the end of the series? I looked on Singh’s website and there is book number 15 in the works, but I am intrigued to see who she plans to write about…
Spice Rating: 2/6 – See my rating system here
Book Rating: 5/5