Friday 7 October 2022
CBR14 Book 24: "Ruby Fever" by Ilona Andrews
Rating: 5 stars
CBR14 Bingo: New (could also have been used for Series - last in a series, and Mind - a lot of minds are manipulated by various powers throughout)
Spoiler warning! This book finishes off a bunch of storylines that started six books and a novella earlier in Burn for Me. It's technically the third book in a trilogy, but to fully get the emotional heft of the story, you should have read the whole series up until now. Besides, don't you like fun? Ilona Andrews writes the best paranormal fantasy on the market. If for some reason you just want to read Catalina's trilogy, the first book is Sapphire Flames.
The book opens with the House Baylor taking a tour of the large estate that will be their new home. Thanks to the eccentricities of the former owner, there's a variety of places to stay, from impressive towers that appeal to Arabella and Leon, to small guest cottages where Bern and his girlfriend Runa, as well as Runa's younger siblings, can stay. There's ample room for their security forces, a space where grandma Frida can continue to work on her vehicles, and some lovely grounds, including a pool, not to mention a house where the head of House Baylor, Catalina, and her assassin fiancé can live away from the prying eyes of the rest of her family.
Six months later, Catalina and Alessandro find themselves with a very complicated situation on their hands. There's a very expensive spider on the loose in the Baylor compound, which needs to be found and returned to her owners. That's relatively simple compared to the fact that someone has very publically murdered the Speaker of the Texas assembly, which is likely to cause panic in the city. When trying to notify Catalina's boss, the Warden of Texas about this, Catalina and Alessandro discover that he has been gravely poisoned and may not recover. This elevates Catalina to acting Warden, a position the young woman had been hoping she wouldn't have to assume for years yet. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, a handsome, yet arrogant prince from the Russian Emperium shows up and complicates things by using his shapeshifting abilities to make the assassin warlord Arkan (the man Alessandro has sworn to kill to avenge his murdered father) think Catalina and the Baylors have access to one of his's closest allies, basically making it inevitable that the ruthless man will stop at nothing to kill Catalina, Alessandro, and the whole Baylor clan.
As I already mentioned, not only is this book the final volume in Catalina's trilogy, but it wraps up storylines that started as far back as Burn for Me, the first book about Nevada Baylor and Connor "Mad" Rogan. Since they are Catalina's sister and brother-in-law, Nevada and Connor obviously show up, but the writers have created a plausible reason for why the powerful couple can't really step in and help fight Arkan or solve the murder mystery, or which someone poisoned Linus Duncan and why. They nevertheless do get a pretty satisfying extended cameo, without taking up too much space in Catalina and Alessandro's final adventure. Several long-running mysteries that have occupied the imaginations of the Book-Devouring Horde (the self-styled name of Ilona Andrews' fans) for years and years now are finally given satisfying answers, and I didn't mind in the slightest that thanks to spending a lot of time on various fan sites on Goodreads and Facebook, none of the big reveals really came as a surprise.
Because Catalina and Alessandro are a much more established couple in this book, some of the romance takes a backseat to the action and mystery plots. I didn't really mind this, as we got more than enough romance in Emerald Blaze and this book also seems to focus more on Catalina's growing powers and her learning to adapt to and control them. She's always had the ability to entice people to love her and do what she wants with her green wings, but she needs to learn to use her black wings and their accompanying sinister powers or risk losing control entirely during a very critical time.
This book probably won't be a 5-star read for a lot of people. I've seen others complain about pacing problems and elements of the plot they didn't think worked so well, but to me, this book is a wonderful conclusion to a series I've been reading since 2014. As readers of my reviews will know, I'm an unashamed Ilona Andrews fangirl and would happily pay if they decided to publish and sell their shopping lists. So it's probably wise to take my rating with a grain of salt, but anyone who's read the earlier books and wondering if they stick the landing - yes, I would very much say they do.
Judging a book by its cover: While I breathe a sigh of relief that the second trilogy in the Hidden Legacy series has had vastly better covers than the first one, I'm not exactly a big fan of this one. This is also the only book of the three where Catalina isn't at any point described as wearing the evening dress they've put the cover model in. I'm happy that they have the same two people on the cover for each of the three books. I like red, it's a great colour. Not super happy about the jazz hands or weird lightning suddenly streaming from the female model who's supposed to portray Catalina.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.