The Baylors are back in the latest Hidden Legacy volume from the Ilona Andrews writing duo. Ruby Fever has all the trademark snark, adrenaline-fueled action and humor these novels are known and loved for.
This is book six of the series, and my review necessarily contains spoilers for those that come before. Ruby Fever is not a stand-alone story, and readers are advised to begin with Burn for Me, which introduces the saga and the magical world it takes place in.
Houston is under attack. The Speaker of the Texas State Assembly, the political body that governs the influential magical houses of the state, has been murdered in the city. Arkan, an extremely successful mercenary guild, has placed a base in the area, and given how the Speaker was killed, they are likely responsible. The Warden of Texas, Linus Duncan, the man typically in charge of investigating such crimes, has been assaulted and is in a coma. That makes Catalina Baylor, Deputy Warden, responsible for cleaning up the mess and making sure justice is done – and she has absolutely no idea how she’s going to pull that off. It doesn’t help that her fiancé, Alessandro Sagredo – who is currently in a silent and deadly conflict with the Arkan agency – winds up proposing to her over the corpse of one of that corrupt entity’s agents.
Complicating the issue is Konstantin Leonidovich Berezin of Blood Imperial, an illusion mage and Russian prince. He shows up amid the mess to tell Catalina he’s there to destroy Arkan, and he expects her to fully comply with whatever agenda he hands her. But the Baylor Family isn’t exactly known for responding to thinly veiled threats, despite the powerful magic Berezin can bring to bear against them. Adding to all the fun is the fact that Catalina is starting to develop some strange, frightening and deadly new skills.
This is the fourth of the Catalina tales (three novels, one short story), and almost all the important relationship building between Alessandro and Catalina takes place in the earlier publications. Here, we see them move their affair to the next level and watch them deepen their emotional bonds. A lot of that growth centers around the concern they have for each other. Catalina is worried about her burgeoning powers. Her magic was formidable already and an increase in the dark, destructive side of it is most definitely not what she wants. She fears what she can do with it while Alessandro fears what using it might do to her. Catalina is also concerned that the feud between Alessandro and the leader of Arkan (conveniently named Arkan) will result in mutual destruction in the final showdown. Their last encounter almost killed her beloved and she’s frantic to see the next inevitable conflict end definitively in Alessandro’s favor.
Speaking of love, it looks like we’ve received an introduction to Arabella’s coming beau. I’d shipped her with a guy from the last book so I was a bit bummed at that, but the introduction of this character does open up a lot of possibilities for her coming trilogy.
Of course, we get updates on all the members of the beloved Baylor family. Arabella continues to mature, control her powers and display a healthy amount of development in her role as the CFO. We see less of Leon here than we did in Emerald Blaze but he, too, shows that he has mellowed and become more adult. Runa and Bern move their relationship forward as House Etterson is gently and carefully absorbed into House Baylor. For all intents and purposes by this point, they are one big clan. Matilda and Cornelius make appearances and it is pretty much spelled out that House Harrison considers itself united by strong affection as well as contractual ties with House Baylor. I liked that the book shows Cornelius being more active in the conflicts; his fate is linked to the Baylors and sidelining him to ensure his safety doesn’t protect him so much as hamper his participation in his own defense. The biological link between Catalina’s family and Linus Duncan is confirmed, we learn some interesting background information on him and the Caeser question is addressed. The reasoning used to describe the latter doesn’t really mesh with what we learned about this figure in the first three books, especially regarding the fanatical loyalty of his followers, but by this point, who cares? Grandma Tremaine aka Evil Grandma is more thoroughly integrated into the kinship circle. Alessandro’s mother, sisters, and grandfather also make an appearance.
I have to admit all this familial togetherness was a touch too saccharine for my taste. Evil Grandma has the nickname for a reason and to see so much tolerance and understanding toward her in this tale was a bit too twee. Most of Alessandro’s folks receive pretty much the same treatment, although in both these cases typical humans would need years of therapy to move beyond the past. I get that one of the selling points of this series is that deep tribal connection but sometimes you can take that too far. Good families can include bad apples/relationships.
Ruby Fever is exactly the tale fans want and expect from this series. It’s a tad too pat, and predictable to make DIK level but it is an enjoyable story and a nice ending to this portion of the saga. I’m already looking forward to the Arabella collection.
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I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
|Review Date:||August 25, 2022|
|Book Type:||Urban Fantasy Romance|
|Review Tags:||Hidden Legacy series | Texas|
This is actually book six of the series!
You’re right. I’ll have that changed. Thanks!
I very much agree. Also with your rating. A very solid B, no more, some stellar scenes which would be an immediate A, and sometimes a little less than B, especially for all the resolutions with a little tidy bow on them.
By now, my expectations for these books are “good fun read, some excellent moments”, but they are not much higher than that. On this, they deliver extremely reliably and well. I like them, and I will go on reading them.
I liked how Catalina and Alessandro addressed their emotional issues, this felt real, and emotionally fitting to their personalities and growth arcs, but I would have liked a bit more time for this – it felt truncated because … on to the next battle.
I liked the way they dealt with the Russian prince, and what he brought to the table was suspense, fun and surprises, which I liked.
I liked how the “core family team” is growing, growing up, and how they never stole the spotlight in the way Mary Balogh’ series drive me insane, by now.
This book is fundamentally one drawn out battle with moments of calm where the “rest of the stuff” happens, which is not my favorite type of story, I like some “normal” times, too. Or some politics and relationship times, so I prefer the Innkeeper series to this one, and liked the old Edge series a lot, too. But that is a personal preference, the books are good at what they do, and they also are clearly all like that, mostly escalating sh*t hitting the fan, and beautiful creative ways of dealing with that for a nice ending of each book.
As for the other solutions or revelations, they were, as you say, extremely facile. Everything falls into place with a bow on it, and the sharp edges that made some things so interesting, like Evil Grandma, or the closeness of Houses Rogan and Baylor, or Alessandro’s long drawn out family trouble, all of that just pretty much solved itself in one or two conversations, and those were a bit info-dumpy, not stuff resolving on the page.
We’re in total agreement. And I’m glad to hear someone else really loves the Innkeeper books. Those are my favorites by the author(s) and I also really liked the first few Edge novels. I would have loved to have a series devoted to George and company but at least we get updates on them via the Innkeeper stories.
The newest Innkeeper is available as a free weekly serial on their website (or via subscription) – I am getting a lovely gift in my inbox every Friday!
I find Ilona Andrews’ way of being generous with their fans while having clear boundaries very well done, I admire and respect their approach.
I like the weekly Innkeeper chapters (or half chapters) also although I always buy the ebook when it comes out. I just like the format and sometimes there are scenes included that weren’t available in the online freebies. I’ve probably read the books a half a dozen times and it’s nice to just have them on my Kindle.