Awesome! Fantastic! Riveting! Buy this book! That’s the review I want to write for Emerald Blaze. Since AAR requires that I write a slightly more detailed exposé, those interested in why they should make this purchase may find out more below.
This is book five of the Hidden Legacy series, and my review necessarily contains spoilers for the novels that come before it. I would not recommend starting here, since you will miss a lot of wonderful tales that provide the needed history for this story, and would recommend you at least read Diamond Fire and Sapphire Flames, the two previous works in the Catalina trilogy. Especially since an interesting character from one of those stories makes a thoroughly unexpected reappearance here.
Catalina Baylor has picked up the millions of pieces of her heart Alessandro Sagredo left her with and has moved on with her life. Not that it’s much of a life at this particular moment. Hot, sweaty, dirty and dehydrated she, her brother Leon and employee/friend Cornelius are in a park, in a face off with another group of investigators also seeking to recover a rare tamarin monkey named Rosebud. The frightened animal is hiding in a tree, well out of reach of the angry humans pursuing it. The folks from Montgomery Investigations believe it to be the property of a laboratory but Catalina knows it is the service animal of a twelve year old girl with a spinal injury and is determined that it will be returned to the young lady unharmed.
Thanks to help from animal mage Cornelius, she’s able to retrieve the monkey and thanks to her own awesome paperwork skills she’s able to convince the Montgomery investigators that Rosebud belongs to her client - but as her team is leaving they are suddenly attacked by a weird group of creatures from the arcane realm. That’s successfully resolved too, but it leads Catalina on an all new quest, one in which she will have to tangle with a unique, horrifying villain, a team of lethal assassins, and once more have to partner with the sexy, mysterious Alessandro in order to save the world.
That’s all you’re going to get from me on the storyline. It’s complicated both because of the complex magical world in which it takes place, and the fact that the authors have had six other books in which to refine that world and fill it with interesting denizens, many of whom play a role here and have their own intricately detailed motivations and tangled relationships with our hero and heroine.
I assure all of the fans of the series that they will find this book a pleasure to read. The plotting is tight, the action enticing and exciting, and lots of favorite characters make appearances. I was especially pleased to see a bit more of Cornelius in this tale. His involvement in the previous installment was woefully small but here he plays a slightly larger, more meaningful role.
Also present are all the members of the beloved Baylor family. It was wonderful to see the marginally more mature manifestations of Arabella and Leon and read about the new roles they are playing in the family business. Leon is a personal favorite so I was delighted that he was the secondary character with the largest role in this story. We learn some about how he deals with the recent materialization of his magical talent and what his life looks like now that he’s no longer a whiny teen. He’s become a more adult twenty-something but never fear, he is still the nosy, impetuous, and snarky, fearless warrior we fell in love with in the previous novels.
The romance between Catalina and Alessandro here works far more smoothly than it did in the last book. In Sapphire Flames, Catalina’s residual teenage-crush feelings and the fact that her magic gave her no opportunity to date had kept her from having any real agency in their relationship. She’s grown far more confident thanks to her successful running of the family business, the tutoring she is receiving in House strategy by her paternal grandmother, her growing control of her magic and the fact that she has created a strong network of friends and allies. This makes her more of an equal for Alessandro, who has been a globe-trotting assassin for years and has the world-weary jadedness that such a job would engender and require.
We learn what led Alessandro to that career choice and also about a recent confrontation which had an incredible impact on how he views life and love. The mellowing of his utter confidence has made him more open and given him a willingness to be vulnerable and emotionally accessible to Catalina. Now that he’s honest and willing to share his history and the problems in his life with her, they forge a true connection. I absolutely loved watching that happen. The great thing is that like Connor and Nevada, Alessandro and Catalina have complimentary magical talents. Alessandro fits perfectly into Catalina’s dangerous, action-filled lifestyle, which makes their HEA very believable and totally satisfying.
Readers of the series will remember that a romance for Bern was hinted at in the last story and I am pleased to announce the continuation of that thread here. I would have liked to see a bit more detail but it was satisfying to have my suspicions confirmed.
Emerald Blaze is a wonderful addition to the Hidden Legacy series. While it brings Catalina and Alessandro’s romance to an HEA, the authors leave us with lots of unresolved issues so that our appetite is whetted for the next installment in the series. I, for one, can hardly wait.
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