Burn for Me
A combination of urban fantasy, alternate history, and paranormal romance (minus the werewolves or vampires), Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews marks the first in a new series following an in-debt private investigator attempting to negotiate a world where her targets possess magical powers. For some quick background, in 1863, scientists discovered a serum that unlocked special powers in human beings. Originally given to soldiers, it wasn’t long before the aristocracy bought their way into the ranks. The unlocked magical abilities were passed down within the families, creating an extremely insular community of power and powers. Fast forward 150-ish years, and you have the almost dystopic world of a magical Houston found in Andrews’ new Hidden Legacy series.
Nevada Baylor is in more than a bit of a pickle. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, her family mortgaged everything, their home and their business, to get him treatment, but were left owing their basic survival to Montgomery International Investigations, owned by one of the powerful aristocratic houses. Now Nevada is left with no choice but to agree to a suicide mission – bring in (alive) Adam Pierce, a firestarter with incredible power. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) Connor Rogan, also known as Mad Rogan, has also been asked by his family to look into the matter (apparently a cousin has gotten himself mixed up with Pierce). Quite possibly the world’s most powerful Prime, Mad Rogan may be a bit insane, but he is willing to work with Nevada to bring in Pierce, so he can get his cousin out of trouble. And although Nevada was hired to stop an arsonist from going on a murderous rampage, something else is going on underneath, and she will definitely need Mad Rogan’s help to stop it.
Nevada is a completely relatable character, and I love that about her. Even better, she has the best family ever. I mean, the best. I could fill pages with all the happy GIFs over her family – her mom’s magical talent applies to her shooting abilities, and her granny is a mech-mage (she plays with armored things that move. And names them. Like her motorcycle, Thiago. She also has a tank). The whole family lives together in their office/warehouse, and they are all involved in the business in one form or another (even the kids – though their involvement is more along the lines of googling). The contrast between Nevada and Mad Rogan is fascinating (he’s basically estranged from his family, she lives on top of hers; he’s incredibly wealthy and powerful, she’s in danger of losing the family business and going bankrupt), and works well. I’m curious to see how that relationship works in the future. Their personalities, though, are incredibly similar. Although Nevada definitely has a strong moral compass which Mad Rogan seems to lack sometimes, both of them are very protective of those they deem theirs (Rogan’s employees, Nevada’s family, etc..) I like how they fit together as characters.
Personally, I thought the plot was stellar – even more so than the characters. That says a lot since I’m usually all about the characters. There are a bunch of different layers of things going on, different layers of relationships as well, and they all push towards the end. Although not each little plot string is tied off (it is a new series, after all – there has to be something to tie in the next book!), it all moves towards the climax at the end. And I absolutely love the fact that Mad Rogan and Nevada do not have it all worked out by the end of the book. It has definitely left me looking forward to the next in the series, which I can’t find a release date for yet. Argh!
The only thing, though, is it all starts out kinda slow. Since there is so much world-building going on (the world may resemble ours, but the entire socio-economic structure is different,) the reader needs a bit of background before we can jump into the story. Unfortunately, the set-up means it’s almost 100 pages before our hero and heroine meet. Once they do, things really take off, but getting there took me longer than I was expecting.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed it. I’m even willing to overcome my reticence against starting a new series for this one. If you’re in the mood for some good urban fantasy, this is definitely a good one – I’d say it’s a pretty good entry into the genre as well. I think between this and their Kate Daniels series, Ilona Andrews is now an auto-read for me. And an auto-recommend.