Review: Ruby Fever

Review: Ruby FeverRuby Fever (Hidden Legacy, #6) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #6
Published by Avon on August 23, 2022
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 380

FINAL DECISION: The remarkable conclusion of the Hidden Legacy series featuring Catalina Baylor transported me into a world of magic, intrigue, and unforgettable characters. With captivating storytelling, Catalina’s growth, acceptance of her powers, and sizzling romance with Alessandro left me breathless, and craving more.

THE STORY: RUBY FEVER starts out with a wonderful chapter that romance readers will love. That’s a good thing because quickly Catalina Baylor is confronted by a wild series of events that unfold in rapid succession. When Catalina’s boss, the Warden of Texas, comes under attack, Catalina and Alessandro must discover what has happened while fending off attacks. Catalina becomes the Acting Warden of Texas and confronts the threats facing her city and her family. Old villains and new characters who might be friends or foes appear and keep the story fresh. RUBY FEVER serves as the conclusion to Catalina Baylor’s journey in the Hidden Legacy series.

OPINION: I was captivated and transported into a world of magic, intrigue, and unforgettable characters in the remarkable conclusion of the Hidden Legacy series featuring Catalina Baylor. This final installment completely satisfied me and yet left me breathless and craving for more.

From the very first page, I was completely engrossed in Catalina’s journey as she shouldered the weight of multiple responsibilities as the Acting Warden of Texas and Head of House Baylor. The authors skillfully portrayed her growth and transformation throughout the series, and in this finale, we witness the culmination of her remarkable evolution. Catalina’s acceptance of her magical nature and her unyielding determination to embrace her powers were awe-inspiring. Her character arc unfolded with such depth and authenticity, making her a truly unforgettable protagonist.

The exploration of Catalina’s dual nature as a Siren (and another mysterious — and dangerous — side) was a highlight of this book. It was a thrilling experience to delve into the depths of her power, as she grappled with the darkness within and discovered the extent of her own strength. The authors masterfully balanced her vulnerabilities with her unwavering resolve, creating a compelling and multi-dimensional character that had me rooting for her at every turn.

The romance between Catalina and Alessandro continued to flourish, weaving its way through the challenges and obstacles they faced. Their connection felt palpable, and their chemistry sizzled off the pages. I found myself deeply invested in their journey, rejoicing in their triumphs and sympathizing with their struggles. Alessandro’s growth and transformation were particularly noteworthy, as he learned to trust Catalina completely and embrace the power of their partnership. Their love story was tender, passionate, and beautifully portrayed.

The introduction of new characters breathed fresh life into the story, expanding the intricate tapestry of the Hidden Legacy universe. The enigmatic Imperial Russian Prince Konstantine added an extra layer of intrigue and complexity to the narrative. Additionally, the return of Victoria Tremaine, the notorious “grandmother from hell,” brought shocking revelations and shed light on her role in the lives of the Baylor sisters. These well-crafted characters added depth and richness to the overall narrative, enhancing the reading experience.

The plot was a whirlwind of twists, turns, and heart-pounding suspense. Each chapter held new surprises and revelations, ensuring that I was glued to the pages, eagerly devouring each word. The authors’ skillful storytelling kept me guessing and second-guessing.

WORTH MENTIONING: The hints at future story arcs, particularly involving Arabella made me anticipate what’s to come.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RUBY FEVER is the sixth book in the Hidden Legacy series and the third and final book of Catalina’s trilogy. This book should be read as part of the series or, at least, after reading Catalina’s books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Emerald Blaze

Review: Emerald BlazeEmerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #5
Published by Avon on August 25, 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 399

FINAL DECISION: EMERALD BLAZE is a delightful, fast-paced urban fantasy filled with excitement, danger, and romance. The compelling relationship between Catalina and Alessandro, along with the vibrant supporting cast and top-notch world-building, make this a captivating read. The plot is full of twists and revelations, and the masterful writing keeps you engaged from beginning to end.

THE STORY: Months have passed since Alessandro shattered Catalina’s heart at the conclusion of SAPPHIRE FLAMES. Now, as their story continues, Catalina Baylor, a Prime magic user, grapples with her extraordinary powers coveted by her ruthless grandmother. Entrusted as a deputy overseeing magic law breaches in Texas, she faces constant peril and the relentless presence of monstrous creatures. Amidst the chaos, Catalina aims to halt the use of a destructive serum wreaking havoc on their world. Violence erupts among powerful magical families when Felix Morton, involved in a crucial project, is mysteriously murdered. Assigned to investigate, Catalina is shocked to find Alessandro hired as a replacement, secretly on a mission to avenge Felix. Battling her lingering emotions, Catalina strives to protect her heart, while Alessandro is determined to shield her from a Russian assassin. As they face relentless attacks, they grapple with the identities of their enemies: Arkan, Felix’s killer, or something even more sinister. Balancing her newfound responsibilities as Head of her House, Catalina must outsmart her grandmother, aid her boss, Linus, and navigate her role as a P.I. When assigned to uncover the murderer involved in a hazardous project, Catalina’s path intertwines with Alessandro’s once again, prompting concern for his well-being amidst their unresolved feelings.

OPINION: EMERALD BLAZE is an absolute delight. This fast-paced urban fantasy novel is packed with excitement, danger, magic, and romance that kept me captivated from start to finish. The authors’ signature witty dialogue and humor are present throughout, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the story. The highlight of EMERALD BLAZE is the compelling romance. Catalina and Alessandro’s relationship is filled with tension and chemistry, and their character development in this book takes their connection to new heights. Catalina, now settled in her role as Deputy Warden, has become a stronger and more confident woman, while Alessandro undergoes significant personal growth. Their journey together is a rollercoaster of emotions.

The supporting cast of characters is as vibrant and lovable as ever. From the wild and endearing Baylor clan to the intriguing secondary characters like Arabella, Leon, Runa, and Cornelius, each one adds depth and flavor to the story. The complex relationships between the characters, including Catalina’s interactions with her sister Nevada and their grandmother Victoria Tremaine, are explored, shedding new light on past events and adding layers of complexity to the narrative.

The world-building in Emerald Blaze is top-notch. Ilona Andrews continues to impress with their richly crafted urban fantasy setting, complete with intricate political dynamics and a society filled with both danger and intrigue. The plot is filled with twists and revelations, as Catalina and Alessandro embark on a mission to recover the lost doses of the Osiris Serum, facing dangerous enemies and personal challenges along the way. The writing is masterful, with detailed descriptions, engaging dialogues, and entertaining internal monologues that draw the reader deeper into the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: The epilogue of this book was totally worth reading!

CONNECTED BOOKS: EMERALD BLAZE is the fifth book in the Hidden Legacy series. It is the second book in Catalina’s trilogy. This book should be read in order of the series or at least after SAPPHIRE FLAMES.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Sapphire Flames

Review: Sapphire FlamesSapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy, #4) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 359

FINAL DECISION: Sapphire Flames is an absolute gem, a captivating installment in the Hidden Legacy series that left me utterly thrilled from start to finish. Catalina’s journey as she embraces her siren powers, teams up with the enigmatic Alessandro, and faces dangerous challenges is a rollercoaster of surprises and excitement.

THE STORY: SAPPHIRE FLAMES is the fourth book in the Hidden Legacy series and follows the story of Catalina Baylor, Nevada’s younger sister. Set in a world where magic determines power and wealth, Catalina is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and now the Head of House Baylor. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, which allow her to persuade and manipulate others. However, when the mother and sister of a woman who previously helped Nevada and the Baylor House are murdered, Catalina decides to risk her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery behind their deaths. Little does she know that powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, an Italian Prime, and Catalina’s former teenage crush. Alessandro is dangerous and unpredictable, and his true motives remain unclear. Yet, he is inexplicably drawn to Catalina. As they join forces to investigate the murders, Catalina must push the limits of her extraordinary powers. However, her actions may not only cost her House Baylor, but also her heart.

OPINION: This is an absolute gem of a book that left me utterly thrilled and exhilarated from start to finish. It’s a five-star, must-read, and I can’t contain my enthusiasm for this captivating installment in the Hidden Legacy series.

From the moment I delved into the pages, I was swept away by the magic and charm of Catalina and her journey. She has come into her own as a 21-year-old, fully embracing her siren powers since we first met her. And let me tell you, it’s a sight to behold! The rest of the Baylor family is back, including the vivacious crazy grandma Frida, the semi-scary Arabella, the super funny Leon, and of course, the indomitable sniper mom and Bern.

Let’s not forget Alessandro, who defies all expectations. He’s not your typical charming pretty boy; he’s a man of secrets, talents, and a personal vendetta. His dynamic with Catalina is electric, and the sparks fly as they team up to take down the bad guys. And don’t even get me started on Linus Duncan and his awe-inspiring power.

The plot is a rollercoaster of surprises and danger, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The three-year grace period is coming to an end for House Baylor, and the stakes have never been higher. Immunity is about to expire, and Catalina finds herself entangled in a case that everyone warns her against. But of course, she dives headfirst into the challenge, pushing herself to the limits.

What makes this book truly exceptional is the trademark Ilona Andrews blend of humor, danger, and that slow-burn romance that sets your heart ablaze. I devoured every page, unable to put it down. While I missed seeing more of Rogan and Nevada, Catalina and her crew carry the story with unwavering brilliance. Plus, the stage is set for some exciting future books with Catalina at the helm—a prospect that has me eagerly anticipating reading the next chapters in this extraordinary series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. The romance definitely is in flux at the end of this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SAPPHIRE FLAMES is the fourth book in the Hidden Legacy Series, but it is also the first book in the trilogy that is Catalina’s story. This series is better read in order, even though a reader could start here and get most of the story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Diamond Fire

Review: Diamond FireDiamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3.5
Published by Avon Impulse on November 6, 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 160

FINAL DECISION: Definitely not as intense or as compelling as the books in this series, this novella really introduces Catalina as her own person in the series and provides a foundation for her own books. The novella is funny and makes me smile.

THE STORY: Catalina Baylor is looking forward to her sister Nevada’s wedding. Then her sister’s future mother-in-law unexpectedly asks Catalina to meet with her. Catalina is told that the family’s traditional tiara is missing and Catalina is asked to find it without letting Nevada know. Catalina agrees to search which is complicated by Rogan’s family who are prime suspects. At the same time, there is also a bride to pacify, and it also seems that someone is out to commit murder.

OPINION: Like the other books in the Hidden Legacy, this novella has a combination of humor and action. This novella doesn’t have a romance (except for Rogan and Nevada’s wedding). Instead, it is an introduction to Catalina’s voice. It is really a prequel to Catalina’s trilogy and closure to Nevada’s trilogy.

The plot was good for a novella (lacking the depth and complexity of the novels), but what I really loved about this story was learning more about Catalina, her magical talent, and what problems she faces. Catalina is still a teenager in this story, and by the end, her trajectory toward her adult life seems clearer.

WORTH MENTIONING: Nevada doesn’t make an appearance here except through others’ observations of her.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DIAMOND FIRE is book 3.5 of the Hidden Legacy series. The novella operates as a transition between Nevada’s trilogy and Catalina’s trilogy. While it is better to read the series in order, this book can operate as an entry point for new readers who want to continue with Catalina’s story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Wildfire

Review: WildfireWildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3
Published by Avon on May 25, 2022
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 405

FINAL DECISION: Another great entry in the Hidden Legacy series. The story gets deeper and richer with each book, and this book has some great action sequences. Nevada and Rogan’s story is just about done (with the exception of the transition novella), and it is clear things are shifting towards Catalina.

THE STORY: Things are changing for Nevada Baylor. As she is applying for her family to be recognized as an official House, she is becoming more known among those in the magic world. She now has more enemies and also some men who are interested in a strategic marriage. None of these make her current lover, Rogan, happy. Nevada isn’t happy either because her new client is Rogan’s ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared. Nevada and Rogan also continue their investigation into the large conspiracy attempting to upend the magical hierarchy.

OPINION: This is such a great series. Every book so far has managed to exceed my expectations. There is so much action, adventure, and heart in these books. I loved how the story managed to balance the romance, the suspense/action, and the humor.

We get to learn much more about the secrets of the Baylor family as those characters take on a larger role in this book. This book completes the trilogy about Nevada and Rogan’s romance and “mostly” resolves the overarching storyline. There are some loose ends, but the story is overall satisfying. It can be seen as the end of “Season 1” of the series.

One of the biggest developments in this book is that we get to know Nevada’s ruthless grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, who has been trying to abduct/take control of Nevada as Victoria is the last Prime in the House of Tremaine. There is such complexity to this character who could have been an evil caricature.

As Nevada and Rogan are together and in love, there are some complexities that are set as possible obstacles and dangers, but I really loved that I never questioned the depth of Nevada and Rogan’s relationship. The two really work things out in such an adult way. They talk about their challenges and never really doubt one another.

There is so much I love about this book. The humor is great. The book feels like it could be immediately put on film as there are great set pieces of action and humorous events.

WORTH MENTIONING: Some mysteries of the Baylor family’s magic talents are revealed.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILDFIRE is the third book in the Hidden Legacy series. This book should be read in order because of the overarching storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: White Hot

Review: White HotWhite Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #2
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on May 30, 2017
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 416

FINAL DECISION: This series is amazing. The second book picks up right where the last book left off without losing any of the zippy nature of the plot or the adventure with the big set pieces. This book feels like a blockbuster movie with big action sequences and I love it — especially because the romance heats up here.

THE STORY: Nevada, who has been revealed as a lie detector, takes on a new client for her detective agency. Cornelius, an animal Mage, wants to find out who murdered his wife. Immediately, it is clear that Primes and the Houses are involved in either the murder or covering it up — probably both. Her investigation also brings Mad Rogan back into her orbit after a couple of months apart. It is clear that this investigation again threatens their lives and is also connected with the plot that Nevada and Rogan foiled — in part — in BURN FOR ME.

OPINION: This book is perhaps not as shockingly amazing as the first one, which introduced the world, but I loved that it puts flesh on the relationships and the overarching story. Nevada and Rogan have met, and there is certainly an attraction between them. Now in this book, the question is will they have an intimate relationship?

This is a great followup to the first book because Nevada, and us, learn more about her powers. One thing I loved is how Rogan is so supportive of her. He believes in her and knows that she can handle just about everything, even as he wants to care for and protect her. Nevada also has to confront her new realities as a player in the magic world.

The book is fast-paced and filled with plenty of adventure in the same vein as I enjoyed in the first book. We get to see plenty of new powers that different magic users have. We also get to see again the great cast of characters and plenty of new faces that populate this world. My favorite character (other than Nevada and Rogan) is Cornelius, who is Nevada’s client and I loved his story (and I hope that he might yet have a happy ending one day).

I’m glad that I have come to this series after so many books have been written. These books are like popcorn. I just want more and more. Again, I finished this book and immediately turned to the next in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although I loved the first book, as a romance reader, this one was a bit more satisfying (wink, wink!)

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHITE HOT is the second book in the Hidden Legacy series. This series should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Burn for Me

Review: Burn for MeBurn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #1
Published by Avon on October 28, 2020
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 406

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book! It felt fresh and exciting. The world-building was extensive, and yet nothing stopped while the world was revealed. This was such an exciting, fast-moving book that I finished it quickly and immediately picked up the next book in the series.

THE STORY: Nevada Baylor unwillingly takes on a case — to bring alive a powerful magic user. Nevada is then kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan, a very, very powerful Prime magic user who is on his own mission to find Nevada’s quarry. Nevada and Rogan end up reluctantly joining forces. The two are involved in a very dangerous situation — not only in finding the rogue magic user but also handling the attraction between them.

OPINION: This book is a wild ride. The story is action-packed and feels like it could be a movie. The world created in this book is detailed and vibrant. The world has a historical feel as the power in the world revolves around houses that have different powerful magical traits. There are rules and types of courtesies between these houses, and also, the rules don’t apply in the same way to the magical as it does to the non-magical.

I loved the characters. Nevada is a woman of tremendous power who is just learning who she is. I was totally on board for her journey where her magic which has been hidden, is not only exposed, but also she learns that her power is far beyond what she knew about herself. She also has a quirky family filled with distinctive characters. (Her sister ends up being a heroine in later books in this series).

Mad Rogan is powerful and damaged and an incredible hero. His story begins with him being completely without conscience or boundaries, and yet he has depths that Nevada begins to recognize — even as she runs from him. He has a journey of his own which makes both characters a joy to follow in their character development.

The focus of this book is the story, and the romance is certainly present, but this is not solely focused on the romance. It is a paranormal adventure with a serious romantic plot, but it doesn’t have a typical romance arc that is done here. I really care more about the romance in all these books, and I loved how Rogan and Nevada interact, but readers should not expect romance to be the main story here.

WORTH MENTIONING: The couple’s story here is not complete. There is a resolution in the immediate plot, but there are overarching storylines, including the relationship between Nevada and Rogan, that continue over the series. FYI there is no sex in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BURN FOR ME is the first book in the Hidden Legacy series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Night Shift

Review: Night ShiftNight Shift (Kate Daniels, #6.5; SPI Files, # 0.5; Psy-Changeling, #12.5; Barbarian, #1) by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane
Series: Kate Daniels #6.5, SPI Files #0.5, Psy-Changeling #12.5, Barbarian #1
Published by Berkley on November 25th 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 378

Four Paranormal Novellas

NIGHT SHIFT consists of four paranormal novellas. Of the four authors, I had only read Singh before this collection. Overall rating: 4 stars.

SECRETS AT MIDNIGHT by Nalini Singh: Part of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, this novella features Bastien Smith (Mercy’s brother). Bastien is a DarkRiver leopard and one day he scents his mate on the street of San Francisco. When he finally discovers who she is, he knows there is something different about her. Kirby is a schoolteacher who is alone in the world. The story has a twist that is different from other stories in this series. This story was great. Bastien was a great hero although I had less interest in Kirby as a person but her ultimate story was very interesting and added to the Psy-Changeling universe. Rating: 4.25 stars.

MAGIC STEALS by Ilona Andrews: This novella is part of a series that I have not read. That made no difference, however, because I found the story easy to follow, with interesting characters and a tight storyline. Dali is a weretiger who is involved with Jim Shrapshire who is a werejaguar. Dali feels that she is not a good match for Jim because Dali thinks herself as clumsy and not a strong fighter. Dali does good magic instead. I thought the story was really funny especially when Dali is attempting to hide Jim from her mother. I thought the story was interesting and I loved how Jim is clearly attached to Dali who doesn’t really believe in herself. This story intrigued me enough to want to read more of this series. Rating: 4 stars.

LUCKY CHARMS by Lisa Shearin: This is the story of Makenna Fraser who is a new employee for the SPI, Supernatural Protection Investigations. Makenna is a seer who can see the actual creature underlying any disguise. She is partnered with Ian Byrne who is the star of the company. On Makenna’s first day, she and Ian are in search of a quintet of leprechauns who have evaded their bodyguards. Their search takes them through strip clubs and a sex club. The story is all about the case and there was little character development or any relationship between the characters. I know that there are other books in this series, but this story was not enough to make me interested in reading more. Rating: 2 stars.

THE BEAST OF BLACKMOOR by Milla Vane: Kavik is known as the Beast of Blackmoor. His homeland has been taken over by an evil ruler and when he is refused his request by the goddess Vera, Kavik, who is fifteen, insults the goddess and finds himself given a curse instead. Years later he meets the woman who will be his downfall. Mala, High Daughter of the House of Krima is one of Vela’s chosen and on a quest of her own to save her own destroyed homeland. Her task: to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. I really liked this story. The hero is very dark and tortured but Mala’s persistence wins him over. Both of the characters are strong warriors and work well together as partners. The story is also very sexy especially for such a short novella. Rating: 4.25.