Review: Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

20705702Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews (Hidden Legacy #1)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Avon Romance on October 28, 2014

Source: Purchased

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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.

There are few authors out there that I know I can turn to when I need a great book – wife and husband team Ilona Andrews is one of them. And with BURN FOR ME, the first title in their new Hidden Legacy series, they do not disappoint. It’s got all the Ilona Andrews trademarks: sassy heroine, cool magical system, loving/dysfunctional/quirky/hilarious family situation, and a little bit of sexiness. But don’t worry, Burn For Me is not a carbon copy of their other series: it’s got its own thing going on.

The world of Burn For Me looks a lot like our own – you know, if we’d invented a serum in the 19th century that gave people magical powers. Not everyone developed abilities, but those who did were quickly slotted into certain categories based on their level of power. The upper levels are Notable, Significant, and the most powerful of all, Prime. Obviously being rich and powerful has its advantages, but Primes from major Houses are simultaneously treated like celebrities and chattel. Their marriages are planned based on bloodlines and compatible power types, and each couple is only permitted a certain number of children lest they dilute the bloodline. It’s all very cold and creepy, if you ask me.

Thankfully Nevada Baylor isn’t a Prime, so she doesn’t have to deal with all that…but unfortunately, she’s got her own set of problems. As the owner and lead investigator at Baylor Investigations, a family-run private investigation firm, Nevada frequently tracks down magical criminals way above her magical level (and pay grade). But when a corporation run by one of the most important Houses in Houston buys out her company, Nevada is forced to take on a case that might just be the death of her. Track down and apprehend Adam Pierce, dilettante Prime run amok, or forfeit her business and family home.

Nevada and her employees (read: teenage relatives) are on the case when she’s accosted by Mad Rogan, the most infamous Prime in all of North America. Here’s a multiple choice question for you – Mad Rogan is:

a) The man who burned Mexico City to the ground

b) Nevada’s ridiuclously hot kidnapper

c) Nevada’s partner in bringing down Adam Pierce

d) Quite possibly an actual psycho

e) All of the above

Obviously there’s only one way to can know for sure, but I think you can guess what the correct answer to that one is.

Mad Rogan is a very compelling character, let me tell you. But he’s not even the best of the bunch!  Nevada is the ideal UF heroine: she’s vulnerable, sassy, tough, and determined to protect her family without coming off as a martyr. And her family, my god. Nevada’s cousins Bern and Leon are gems, and her sisters are great too. But those of you who’ve read it know that Grandma Frida takes the cake. Is there anything more hilarious and arresting than a senior citizen making dirty jokes? I think not.

Even the world building is fantastic, with an alternate Houston taking centre-stage as a city divided by the Houses and the non-magical population. The effects of magic on Houston are palpable, especially in Jersey Village: a suburb that’s become a sunken swamp, this lawless zone is run by magic addicts and those who’ve become warped by their reliance on spells. I really liked the fact that magic isn’t portrayed as this magical, pure cure-all; it’s caused a lot of social problems, including widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Three guesses where Mad Rogan and Nevada fall on that spectrum. Despite their differences in class and power, those two are clearly meant for each other. The tension is insane – almost insane as Rogan himself, hehe. Personally I welcome the romance element, but romance haters fear not – Burn For Me is definitely more UF than PNR. I wouldn’t be surprised if the balance shifted a little later in the series, though.

This book was so good that I almost threw some .gifs in here to illustrate how much laughing, flailing, anxiety, and giddiness I experience while reading it. It’s like the book equivalent of your favourite winter drink (candy cane hot chocolate!!!) and the perfect choice for when you want to spend a weekend indoors, hiding from the snow and devouring a book.

Now I know that everyone’s thinking it, so let me just state for the record that the cover artwork for Burn For Me is unfortunate. If you’re one of the people who looked at that cover and thought “ugh no” then let me present you with what the cover should have looked like:

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That is a totally respectable – in fact, quite awesome – cover that actually represents the events of the book. And to top it all off the characters are fully clothed!  So if the cover’s holding you back, feast your eyes on this baby and pick up a copy of Burn For Me. But seriously though…pick up a copy. I need more people to flail with.

Have any of you read Burn For Me yet? I know there are some Ilona Andrews die-hards out there! How much influence does cover artwork have over your decision to read something?

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