Saturday 28 December 2019

#CBR11 Book 98-101: "Hidden Legacy" by Ilona Andrews (re-read)

Total page count: 1382 pages
Burn for Me - 4.5 stars
White Hot - 5 stars
Wildfire - 5 stars
Diamond Fire - 4.5 stars

Sapphire Flames, book 4 in the series (novellas only count as half instalments) and the continuation of the series came out in August (on my birthday - thank you, House Andrews, for your benevolence!). In the months leading up to that release, I wanted to re-read the previous books, so everything was fresh in my mind. The plan was that my husband would read them too (how am I married to a man who just simply refuses to read the same things I like and adore?) and then we would review all four under the "Two voices are better than one" square on this year's Cannonball Bingo. Unfortunately, due to his brain worms and a number of other factors, he never ended up even finishing his re-read of Burn for Me, let alone get round to reading any of the others. So instead, we had to go with plan B, a co-written review of Pumpkinheads (which was considerably faster for the husband to read than the nearly 1300 pages of these combined books).

This brings us to December, and me desperately scrambling to actually complete my double Cannonball. My work load this year is frankly depressing (if I'm not correcting and grading something, I'm probably planning the next task that needs to be corrected and graded). It also turns out that while maternity leave and taking care of a small baby leaves you with a fair amount of time to read (if your hormonal brain lets you concentrate on anything), being the mother of a very active and demanding toddler demands enough of what is left of my energy and intellectual capabilities once the work stress has done its damage, that I barely have the capacity for much of anything anymore. In the last month, I've barely even watched TV, we end up watching movie trailers and YouTube videos, because even a half hour episode of a show either takes up too much time, or demands too much of my mental faculties.

I pretty much have no choice but to write a rather rambling review of my re-read of these books, if I'm to have any chance to complete my double Cannonball (never give up, never surrender!) I can't have four books there on my "Read in 2019" shelf just standing there being un-reviewed, even if they are all re-reads. I've already linked to my original reviews at the top of this one, so anyone wanting plot summaries and such like, can just go check out what I wrote last time.

Why you should read the Hidden Legacy books by Ilona Andrews:
  • Excellent plot. There's an over-arcing story going through all three of the first books, with a series of shadowy figures trying to destabilise the powers that be in Houston and our resourceful protagonists having to join forces to unmask and stop them, but there's also a self-contained story in each of the three books. While you will get more attached to the characters and invested in the bigger plot lines, Ilona Andrews also recaps the most important points in each book (without it seeming like too annoying regurgitation), so you could start with any book in the series and manage to follow along (but where's the fun in that?)
  • Amazing world building. I have no idea where Ilona Andrews get their ideas from. The husband and wife writing team consistently, in each of the many books and series they have produced, manage to build and populate fascinating worlds, with interesting magical systems, supernatural abilities and creepy crawlies. The Hidden Legacy series is set in a world not all that different from our own - it's just that when magical powers were discovered, the magical elite developed and took power, with society having to change to adapt to that. The various types and variations of magic that they use in this book - so clever and inventive
  • The supporting cast. One of my favourite things in all the different series that Ilona Andrews have created over the years is their ability to create wonderful and interesting supporting characters. If the protagonist is a loner, they make sure said person gets enough friends and eventually found family to support and back them. If the protagonist is part of a family, said family will probably be full of interesting, vibrant, demanding and usually supportive. If the protagonist in question comes from a dysfunctional family background, the authors will make sure that by the end of the story, that character has found a new set of people to lean on and belong to. In so many stories, children and adolescents are just annoying plot moppets. This is never the case in an Ilona Andrews story. In Hidden Legacy, Nevada is the breadwinner for her family, but she has her mother, grandmother, her two cousins and her younger sisters firmly on her side at all times. While her sisters and cousins bait and tease her and deeply exasperate her sometimes, they will also drop everything on a second's notice to come to her aid. 
  • The protagonists. While Connor Rogan took a while to make me really like him, and make me believe he was worthy of Nevada, our heroine, Nevada Baylor had me won over by the end of the first chapter of the first book. She's had to work hard for a long time and has absolutely no time or patience for arrogant men who think they can order her around or swoop in and one up her. Once Connor realises just how isolated he's made himself, and what a remarkable woman he's found in Nevada, he more than does the legwork to prove himself an acceptable partner to her. 
  • The action. There are always a lot of amazing action scenes in all of Ilona Andrews' books. This series is no exception. There are car chases, shoot outs, intense magical battles and more quiet power struggles - all fun.
  • The humour. Ilona Andrews writes amazing banter between their romantic leads, but also has laugh out loud funny dialogue and situations involving supporting characters in each of their books. I frequently find myself laughing out loud more than once, in between biting my nails because of the tension and suspense.
  • The original trilogy is already completed. While Diamond Fire is a novella introducing Nevada's younger sister Catalina as the protagonist and this story bridges the gap between the original trilogy and the new one (which begins with Sapphire Flames), the three books about Nevada and Connor and their attempts to stop the whole of Houston society being destabilised (all while falling in love and figuring out how they can have a future together) are finished and all out - so three great books to read, no waiting. 
I've re-read each of these books at least twice now, and can very much vouch for the quality and entertainment value of the stories. I really think Ilona Andrews just keep getting more talented with each new book they publish and feel lucky that I've been reading their books for so long. I have extremely few auto-buy authors anymore, but Ilona Andrews qualify not just for auto-buy, but pre-order. Then, once the books are out in paperback, I will pay again for physical copies. That's a very rare privilege.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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