Monday 4 September 2017

#CBR9 Book 76:" Wildfire" by Ilona Andrews

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Spoiler warning! This is the third book in a series, and the review will contain spoilers for the previous two books. If you haven't read any of the books yet, start with Burn for Me. If you aren't caught up with the series, maybe come back for this review later.

Instead of being able to spend Christmas with her new boyfriend, Connor Rogan, one of the most powerful and magically gifted men in the United States, Nevada Baylor has to rush back to her family once they discover that her paternal grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, is coming for the family. Once back home, Nevada discovers added complications to her fledgling romance, when she finds Rynda Sherwood, nee Charles, Rogan's ex-fiancee, in her kitchen. Rynda's husband is missing and she's pretty much being shunned by all the powerful people in Houston after Nevada, Rogan and their allies killed Rynda's mother at the end of the previous book.

While several of the Baylor clan think it's a dreadful idea for Nevada to help Rynda, as she may lose Rogan in the process, Nevada feels obligated to help the distressed and desperate woman. She wisely points out that if Rogan is going to go back to Rynda, they're never going to have much of a future together, are they? She also needs to convince her mother, sisters and cousins that the best way to defend themselves against Victoria Tremaine is by forming a House of their own. This means coming out in the open with their powers, and being tested and proving their strength. If they register as a House, they will be protected for the next three years and evil grandma won't be able to kidnap them and use their powers for her own gain.

The stakes and danger have escalated with each book in this trilogy and with every book, the sinister conspiracy to create chaos and destabilise the city is revealed to be more far-reaching and powerful. While Nevada hopes that Brian Sherwood's disappearance has nothing to do with the plots she and Rogan have been uncovering in the previous two books, it quickly becomes clear that he's been abducted by someone who wants something left behind by Rynda's now dead mother. Probably evidence that could hurt the conspiracy, making it all the more important for them to find it before the kidnappers hurt Brian.

While Nevada believes their only chance to stay safe from the ruthless and wealthy Victoria Tremaine is by becoming a magical House of their own, her mother Penelope is dead against the idea and pretty much wants Nevada, her sisters and their cousins to pack up and flee. It's made clear that there's really nowhere they could hide for long, and that Victoria wouldn't hesitate to use one of the family to coerce and control the others if she could. When registering for a House, all the various members of the Baylor family would have to be tested, however, and in the case of the youngest sister, Arabella, it could cause widespread panic and end with the girl being locked up by the government for life if the range and nature of her powers are revealed.

Rogan is willing to support Nevada every step of the way, even as he is worried he might lose her forever. Her magical abilities and his are not even vaguely compatible, and Primes of influential Houses tend to marry and have children based on how well powerful their offspring will be. As Nevada discovers, Rynda's husband was deeply disappointed because their youngest son seemed to be entirely without magical ability. Will Rogan care about such things, even if he claims he doesn't?

I wasn't entirely happy with Rynda Charles Sherwood becoming a major character and occasional relationship obstacle for Nevada and Rogan in this book. While it's quite clear that Rogan broke up with her for a reason, and really isn't interested in her apart from feeling protective towards her since he's known her when since they were children, the woman is manipulative and annoying, and does her best to try to throw herself at Rogan and play on his sympathies for much of the book. Nevada admirably doesn't really give into jealousy, and once it becomes clear that she's a Truthseeker Prime to be reckoned with, she has suitors of her own to fend off. She's much more interested in following her heart, rather than making a strategically advantageous alliance with another compatible House. It takes her a little while to convince Rogan of this, but things work out in the end.

One of the things that becomes clear in this book is what a disadvantage Nevada and her family are in because of Penelope's insistence on hiding the true extent of their powers, in order to keep them hidden from Victoria Tremaine for as long as possible. It's only been a few months since Nevada really got involved in the larger world of the magic users of Houston, and she's had to try to teach herself through books given to her by Rogan, while other Primes are trained pretty much from birth. She's strong and powerful, but almost entirely untrained, and now that the Baylors are facing direct attack from several fronts, she needs finesse and to be able to access the full range of her powers. Her mother made that extremely difficult, which is why Nevada chooses to be honest with her cousin Leon about his powers when they start discovering the extent of them, even though they might not like what he chooses to do with them once he knows.

While this is the third book in the originally planned trilogy, not all the threads are neatly tied off at the end of the book, and there are absolutely things that are left unresolved. The authors have said that if the book sells well enough that Avon commissions more books, they'll be happy to write them, and either way, they may self-publish at least one more book in the Hidden Legacy universe. While Rogan and Nevada absolutely have a "happy for now" ending, I would love to read more about them, about Catalina, Arabella, Bern and Leon, as well as Cornelius and his daughter and their strange menagerie of animals. Three books simply doesn't feel like enough, and I am always happy to get more Ilona Andrews books.

Judging a book by its cover: I love the fact that due to the huge amount of protests about the truly diabolically bad cover for White Hot, the publisher actually gave the cover model portraying Rogan (not sure if it's the same guy as one the last cover) a t-shirt, rather than showing off his abs. The cover model portraying Nevada is definitely not the same as on either of the two other covers in the series, but what can you do, eh? Because the last cover was so awful, this doesn't really seem bad in comparison. There are some tornadoes in the background, that's sort of significant. I don't care for the blue fire effect around the title in the slightest. Ilona Andrews deserves better than this cover.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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