Saturday 22 November 2014

#CBR6 Book 124: "Burn for Me" by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 4.5 stars
Page count: 384 pages

In a world where magic exists and is passed down through generations, the most influential families in society are called Houses, and tend to breed selectively to create the most powerful magic users, known as Primes. Nevada Baylor is a struggling P.I in Houston, trying to make ends meet. Nevada's powers (which she keeps secret to avoid being exploited by one of the ruthless Houses) allow her to sense any time someone is lying. It comes in handy in her line of business, but isn't exactly going to make her a magical superstar, like Adam Pierce, the man she has been forced to locate.

A Prime pyrokinetic, Adam Pierce grew up in a life of luxury, before he decided to turn his back on his family, start a motorcycle club and becoming a radical. His fire can melt solid steel and he's the main suspect in a series of arsons, the last at a bank where a police officer got killed. The House that owns the Baylor family's mortgage needs someone to go on what is likely to be a suicide mission. Nevada could refuse, but it would mean not only losing the family business, but the warehouse, where they all live. Desperate, but resourceful, Nevada is able to do what a lot of others haven't. She tracks down Pierce and manages to peak his curiosity. She hopes this will keep her alive long enough for her to figure out a way to get him arrested.

Then she is drugged and abducted by Connor "Mad" Rogan, the head of House Rogan and a Prime Telekinetic, one of the most powerful magic users in the world.  Formerly employed by the US Army and involved in decisive victories against the war of Mexico, he now has nicknames like the Hurricane and the Butcher of Mexico. Having agreed to help his cousin track down her son, who is implicated in the latest arson with Pierce, he has ascertained that Nevada is the easiest way to get to the man. She doesn't take well to being kidnapped, threatened and questioned, and doesn't hesitate to tell Rogan (who terrifies her as he tends to do most people) exactly how unhappy she is about his heavy-handed ways. He proposes that they join forces to catch the pyrokinetic, and Nevada reluctantly agrees, even though she suspects Rogan may turn to be more dangerous to her than Pierce, in the end.

This is the first book in Ilona Andrews' new paranormal series, Hidden Legacy. While there is a clear attraction between Nevada and Rogan and lots of the amazing banter that Andrews does so excellently, nothing is resolved in this book, the first in a trilogy. Because Avon usually focuses on romance, a lot of readers seem to be disappointed by the lack of romantic resolution in this book. A regular reader of their blog, I was expecting a setup book and that is what this is. Andrews writes the slow burn very well, as evidenced by their Kate Daniels series, where it also takes multiple books for the central romance to really develop.

Being a huge fan of ALL of their books (I don't care if they start publishing their shopping lists, I will pay money for them, frequently more than once), I was very excited about this release, and it didn't disappoint. I suspect I may even rate it a full five stars on a repeat read (which I plan to do in December). So much of what the Andrews team does so well can be found here. Fascinating world building, with the idea that much of the population possess magical powers to some extent, in lots of interesting variations. Great characters, both the protagonists and the antagonist - Andrews is fond of a charming anti-hero to pit against the main characters. Action, humour, romance, banter, suspense and entertainment.

Nevada is the main breadwinner for her family, living with her widowed mother (a former army sniper), her grandmother (who seems to have magic that allows her to be a super mechanic), her two teenage sisters and two male cousins (one of whom is a computer genius who helps her in the P.I. business). One of the things I love about Andrews' books is how well they write families. Kate starts out a hard-edged loner in Magic Bites, but finds an extended family in the Pack and her ward. Family is hugely important in all of the four Edge books and locating her lost family is one of the things driving Dina in Clean Sweep. Families who bicker and fight and may be at each others' throats, but who will unite against a common enemy and protect each other to the death. Nevada is clever, inventive and brave, but she's not exceptional at her job. She's not a total hardass like Kate or Cerise in Bayou Moon; if Nevada is in a life threatening situation, her first instinct is to run to save herself, not face the danger head on. She works hard, and without her, her family won't be able to pay the bills. Forced into an impossible situation, of taking on a suicide mission or have her entire family tossed out into the streets, Nevada does the only thing she can. But she's not happy about it, and dreams of the day when she can tell Montgomery House, the ones pulling her strings, to get lost. Over the course of the story, it's quite obvious that there is more to Nevada's powers than she's been told, and her mother and grandmother, while clearly having kept things from her, seem unaware of the true extent of Nevada's abilities.

As well as great and complex heroines, there tend to be good heroes in the Andrews' books. Mad Rogan is no exception, although it's clear that there's going to have to be a hell of a character arc over the next two books for Rogan to be a worthy match for Nevada. He's genuinely scary and can do terrifying things with his powers. He's insanely wealthy and not used to people saying no to him. He is quick to anger and kills without remorse. He finds Nevada very attractive and can't understand why she refuses to submit to his attempts at seduction. While his public persona is that of an uncaring, ruthless man, it's quite clear that there is a lot more depth to Rogan. With the exception of the epilogue, the entire story is told from Nevada's point of view and she doesn't see all that we, the readers see. While he is wealthy and Nevada finds him extremely sexy, she's fully aware that he is extremely dangerous and that a no-name nobody like her has no future with the head of House Rogan, the most powerful and influential of all the magical families.

Sadly, there is no release date for the next book in the series and now I have to wait impatiently for both more Kate books and more Hidden Legacy. I can't wait to see how the story will develop and suspect that while this is great, the sequels will be spectacular.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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