Sunday 4 October 2020

#CBR12 Book 69: "Emerald Blaze" by Ilona Andrews

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 5 stars

#CBR12 Bingo: Green

Spoiler warning! This is the fifth book total in the Hidden Legacy series, and the second book about Catalina Baylor. This review may spoil details from previous books in the series. If you want to start at the very beginning, the book you want is Burn for Me. If you want to start with Catalina's books, the first book is Sapphire Flames

It's been about six months since the end of the last book, where Catalina Baylor made a very unfortunate, iron-clad deal with her evil grandmother to save Alessandro Sagredo's life, only to discover that he was so caught up in his quest for revenge that he packed up and left town pretty much immediately after, breaking her heart in the process. Not that Catalina has been wallowing in self-pity and comfort eating while contemplating her emotions, she's been busy strengthening the power of her house and barely surviving dangerous missions as the deputy warden of Texas. 

Now the heir to House Morton has been horribly murdered and members of four other prominent Texas houses are suspects. There are also strange mutated monsters running around Houston, controlled by an unknown force. Catalina is given the mission to find the guilty party, is deeply unhappy when she discovers that Lander Morton, the grieving patriarch of House Morton, has hired Alessandro to dispatch his son's killer, once the murderer is found. Alessandro is no longer the carefree, easy-going flirt he was six months ago, he seems hard and focused now, and is much more willing to share things, both information and his feelings with Catalina. He insists that someone is trying to kill her, and he is in Houston again to protect her. Since Linus Duncan, Catalina's boss agrees to let Alessandro act as her bodyguard, she doesn't really have a choice but to cooperate with him. 

The man that Alessandro has been hunting since he was a teenager is now openly planning to kill Catalina, and possibly Linus Duncan too. Alessandro is willing to do whatever it takes, even risk his own life, to keep Catalina safe. He is unaware of the bargain Catalina made with her grandmother to save his life, effectively giving up any chance they might have had for a future together. Can the two stop the danger that could destroy Houston, survive, and actually have an honest conversation about their feelings?

Once again, the husband and wife writing team that makes up Ilona Andrews have produced an action-packed, funny, and emotional novel. I never stop being amazed by their creativity when it comes to conjuring up new and truly bizarre supernatural threats for their protagonists to face off against. They always have the best monstrous beasties, but of course, the most monstrous threats facing any hero or heroine of theirs is thoroughly human. In this novel, we discover what Alessandro's quest for revenge actually consists of, and why he's been training to become one of the world's top assassins since he was a teenager. We discover the truth behind why Nevada suddenly resigned as head of House Baylor and more or less publicly severed ties with her siblings. Nevada, very heavily pregnant, is much more present in this book. Leon also gets a lot more to do, while Cornelius and Bern sadly take more of a backseat in this story. 

It's hard for me to review books I really love, and I feel that every time I review an Ilona Andrews book, I pretty much end up repeating the same superlatives again and again. If I haven't convinced the people who read these reviews to start reading Andrews' books by now, it will likely never happen. But you're missing out on some of the best (if not THE best) paranormal fantasy being written today.

Judging a book by its cover: I stand by what I said when commenting on the cover for Sapphire Flames, this is the first non-self-published series where Ilona Andrews actually have decent looking covers. I like the various shades of green and the female cover model's dress. I think they've kept the same woman portraying Catalina from the previous cover shoot, but it looks like the male model, portraying Alessandro, has been replaced. Also, it could just be unfortunate shading, but the male model appears to have a soul patch, which is NOT attractive. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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