Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

Title: Burn for Me
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 28 October 2014

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

It's hard for favorite authors, they have so much expectation to live up to. Ever since I picked up Magic Bites several years ago, I've been in love with everything I've ever read by Ilona Andrews. Some a slight bit more than others, but always absolutely enthralled and excited for more. They've built these amazingly imaginative worlds that I just want to go live in. So Burn for Me had a high bar set for it when I first started it. And it, mostly, lived up to the level of expectation I'd put on this new world and characters.

I'm just going to go ahead and get my one quibble out of the way - the world-building wasn't as solid as I was hoping. Oh, all the pieces are there; ready to be molded and explained, ready to be doled out bit by bit to make me see the bigger picture....but here, and now, I was left floundering a bit. I have questions that I felt like should have been answered. And maybe they were - maybe this is all me, and not the book (in which case I'll eat my criticism), but I stumbled a few times trying to figure out the exact rules.

You see, a serum was developed a couple of hundred years ago and it gave people magical abilities. Of course, we humans didn't think about something so trivial as repercussions. Our motto is, after all, More power. Some short (I assume anyway) time later those pesky consequences started to show up and the serum use was curtailed (I think). So now you have magic users trying to hold onto the magic, mating with other magic users, creating dynasties - or Houses - that hold the power of magic within the cities. I got the feeling that magic abilities were supposed to be fairly rare in this society, because it's been so concentrated and bred to exclusion; and yet it seemed like every person we met had some sort of magical ability. It confused me. Are the magic users rare? Or common? If they're rare, then I get the point of technology still being pretty much where we are - complete with smartphones, tablets, automobiles etc., but if they're as common as our meetings seem to suggest then I have to wonder why the heck technology has developed as much as it has. I would have thought there'd be some stronger effect on the development of our world in the last couple centuries with magic having such a stronghold on the citizens. It's one small thing, but it niggled at the back of my mind the entire time I was reading. I think that I'm right in saying magic users are rare - despite what we see - but I'd love to get a better idea of the ratio of magic-users to regular-folk.

Now onto everything I loved!

1. Nevada Baylor: She's so utterly loyal, snarky, sarcastic, grounded, and fun that I loved her immediately. When her back is against a wall, she doesn't go down without a fight. She sticks to her guns, has her morals and ethics, and is just a genuinely good person. I like her so much that her obvious specialness didn't even bother me. It was reasonable that it snuck up on her, and I'm incredibly interested in seeing how this develops in this world.

2. The Baylor Family: Ilona Andrews have always done an amazing job writing realistic relationships - not just romances, but also friends and family. The interactions between Nevada and her mother, grandmother, cousin Bern, and sisters is so utterly realistic. There is obvious love and comfort between them. The good-natured ribbing and joking made me laugh more than once.

3. "Mad" Rogan: I love him. So sue me. I know there's something wrong with me that I am so ridiculously attracted to someone that's so freaking powerful, arrogant, cocky, and borderline sociopathic (c'mon, it's not like you couldn't have seen this coming what with my love for Barrons - who is the uber-alphahole). I don't care. He's sexy, and I want more of him.

4. The Magic System: The magic history is fascinating - I simply want more of it. All the different levels of magic users, the Houses that rule...well, the world, and the different types of magic that's possible. It's so interesting. I can't wait to see everything expanded in the next books.

5. Storyline: I have to admit that I was sold from the first moment that the flames started to fly. Though we knew the antagonist for much of the book, it was clear that there was more to the story - and I was anxious to find out what was going on. I do think that the reveal at the end was slightly anti-climactic, revealed almost in passing. But it does set up the over-arcing plot quite nicely.

6. The Slow-Burn Romance: I'm a huge sucker for this romantic development. There's a bit of a pride-and-prejudice story here, enemies-to-lovers, and a whole hell of a lot of sexual tension. SO MUCH sexual tension. It's killing me actually. I need MORE. Right now there is a huge imbalance of power, but Ilona Andrews has never let me down in that regard so I'm really excited to see this relationship develop even more.

I hope the next book is coming out soon. I always anxiously await the next Ilona Andrews' book...and I can already see that this series is going to be the same. I'm clearly already obsessed. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Grade: A-/B+

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