The writing duo of Ilona Andrews takes their Hidden Legacy saga in a new and exciting direction with Sapphire Flames, their first full length novel starring Catalina Baylor, Prime Siren and Head of House Baylor. Readers got a taste of what to expect in the short story Diamond Fire and will be delighted with how the authors proceed in this newest installment.
This is the fourth book in the Hidden Legacy series and I strongly recommend reading the other novels – and the short story Diamond Fire – first. They contain information that will be crucial to the full understanding of this tale. This review will contain spoilers for those stories.
In a world where magical families engage in open warfare for supremacy, Catalina Baylor is in a precarious position. Her House was protected by law from attacks for the first three years of its formation, giving the members time to strike alliances and build a secure base from which to function. But their time of clemency is up and they must find a way to survive in an extremely hostile and competitive environment. With their sister Nevada now a part of House Rogan – and out of the country visiting in-laws with her powerful husband and mother in law – they are especially vulnerable. They lack the wealth of most of Houston’s magical elite, which limits their ability to hire protection, and has forced them to be cautious in establishing alliances. As Head of the House, Catalina must find a way to keep them afloat financially and most importantly, keep them alive – and she must do all of this while presenting a strong front to society and serving as lead agent for their private detective company, Baylor Investigative Agency.
Needless to say, all this responsibility means Catalina doesn’t get much rest. Which is why she’s really not pleased when Augustine Montgomery shows up at her house at two o’clock in the morning looking for her aid in an urgent matter. A young boy is on the roof of a hospital, contemplating suicide. Catalina’s Siren power gives her the ability to compel others to do what she wants them to, and Augustine needs her to use that ability to coerce the boy away from the edge. She does and this simple act of kindness launches her and her family into the heart of a very dangerous case.
It turns out that Ragnar Etteson, the boy on the roof, is the brother of Runa from Diamond Fire and one of the last two remaining members of his family following the deaths of the others in House warfare. Determined to help Ragnar and Runa get justice, Catalina agrees to investigate the murders and tell them who is trying to eliminate their House. Along the way she will tangle with a villain with a rare, terrifying magical ability; warped assassins, and her teenage crush Alessandro Sagredo. Not surprisingly, the latter proves to be the most dangerous.
Fans of the series will find this book a pleasure to read. The plotting is tight, the action enticing and exciting and all our favorite characters make appearances. The story captures the exact essence of all the previous Hidden Legacy novels.
Which is what kept this book from DIK status. Marvelous as it is, Diamond Fire felt more like a redux than an original tale. I was excited to see where the series would go as it followed a character who wasn’t Head of the House and Balylor Investigative Agency’s prime agent. Instead, Nevada was neatly removed from those positions so that Catalina could take her place. There is an effort made to show how Catalina handles things differently, but it fell a bit flat for me. It’s true she does delegate more but that has to do with timing rather than personality issues. Nevada had little help with the company because all the other family members were in high school. They have now graduated and it makes sense for them to work in the family business.
Catalina and Nevada are even similar in their responses to the jobs. Their primary concern in being a House is protecting their family, who are all adorable and lovable.(Seriously, you would beg the Baylors to adopt you if they were real!) They both feel just awful after killing people who are trying to kill them. They act strong around almost everyone but their love interests; Rogan and Alessandro get to see their mushy sides. There are a few contrasts: Catalina is more likely to spout facts, while Nevada is more snarky and funny. Catalina is also far more romantically insecure. Nevada knew her value, Catalina, on the other hand, is constantly afraid that the only reason people like her is for her magic. Catalina is more aware of her magic than Nevada ever was but since her abilities are dangerous both to her and the people she uses them on, she’s very reluctant to rely on them. She is every bit as courageous as her sister though, and every bit as determined to find answers, solve mysteries and deliver justice.
Alessandro, like Rogan, is scary talented, with magical fighting abilities that make him an extremely formidable opponent. He’s smooth, sophisticated, charming and a hero to die for. His secondary magical ability wasn’t revealed in the previous novels, so I won’t spoil it here except to say it’s amazing.
Sapphire Flames serves as an introduction to our hero and heroine as a crime fighting team and doesn’t contain an HEA. There’s lots of heat between them and lots of flirtation, some passionate kissing and petting but the focus is on solving the mystery and overcoming the evil villain. There’s also a lot keeping them apart by the end of the book and honestly, I can’t wait to see how that works out in future novels. I think other fans will be as delighted with this tale as I was and be as anxious for the sequel as I am.