Sunday, August 25, 2019

Early Review of Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4) by Ilona Andrews

Title: Sapphire Flames: A Hidden Legacy Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Hidden Legacy (Book 4)
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 27, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062878344
ISBN-13: 978-0062878342
Author's Website:
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher. This in no way affected my rating.

A century and a half ago, the Osiris serum was discovered by scientists which unlocked a person's magical abilities. The serum was given to soldiers so that wars could be won, but scientists didn't comprehend what they'd truly done until much later. The serum was locked away, but the damage had been done because it was soon found that magical talents could be passed from parent to child. The world, as we knew it, was changed forever as a restructuring of power occurred. Money no longer guaranteed power, influence, and prestige in this magically oriented new world, rather, one's magical abilities did. For with the power of magic, one could acquire the rest.

Talents varied among people, but each person who gained magical abilities from the serum showed potential toward one specific type of magic. Among the varying classifications, ranges of talent were soon noted, and magic users were categorized into five different ranks: Minor, Average, Notable, Significant, and Prime. The highest and strongest being Prime. Soon magical dynasties, as the most powerful of magical families came to be called, were broken into Houses and attempted to manipulate and enhance their family's magical potential by arranging marriages which would bring about the most gifted and talented of offspring. Certain magics, it was found, complimented one another and had a high potential of producing offspring with stronger and greater magical abilities. Still others, when their magics were mixed, were found to be incompatible and produced offspring with no magical talents whatsoever.

Three years ago the Baylor family had undergone the trials to prove that their family possessed at least two Primes, and were granted permission to declare themselves a House. The family talents were verified by the Panel of Prime judges, and their records were sealed, so no on outside the trials could find out what the family talents were. Being a new house, they were granted the courtesy of immunity from attacks by other houses for three years. That reprieve is about to expire, and that is when the fun (I say in jest) will begin.

Catalina Baylor has recently taken on the position of head investigator of her family's business--Baylor Investigative Agency. A position her sister, Nevada, held until she married into another House. The firm specializes in small-time investigations, but lately, since their house was declared, a new clientele has emerged with more difficult and magically inclined cases. Catalina's just been asked by Augustine for a favor. He wants her to help him stop Ragnar Etterson, a Prime, from committing suicide by jumping off the top of a building. Catalina has a talent which has deemed her a siren because she can call people to her and make them love and become obsessed with her to a disturbing level. That means once she unleashes her power Ragnar will do anything she asks just to please her. The question is, can she reach him in time?

Two days ago, Ragnar's mother and sister died in a fire. He is not taking the loss well. What Catalina has yet to discover is that the deaths are very suspicious, and are most likely the result of a feud between houses. When she realizes which family Ragnar is a part of, she'll become embroiled in something that could get her and her family killed. The Baylors owe Ragnar's family a debt and will do all they can to get down to the bottom of what happened, and do all they can to keep the two remaining siblings safe.
This is the fourth book (fifth story--there is a novella, Diamond Fire, you should also read) of the Hidden Legacy series. I highly recommend you don't jump in the deep end with this one if you've not read the previous books. There is a lot of history between characters as well as family dynamics from the previous stories that will be missed if you do. You'll most likely feel a bit lost. Plus, the other stories endear you to the Baylor's because you'll know what they've been through, what they've dealt with, and how far they've come. Additionally, you'll miss out on seeing each of the Baylor family, especially Catalina in this book, come into their own because you won't have witnessed their transformations. At the very least, read the novella. It is not to be missed, and gives you an idea of what you're in for. Side Note: If you haven't read the novella, but have read the first three books, read the novella. It gives you a frame of reference as to why and how Catalina changed so much.

Usually when a series changes main characters after having several books I tend to get upset. That was not the case with this one. Perhaps this had something to do with the novella, Diamond Fire, where Nevada voices the prologue, but Catalina voices the rest of the novella. All I know is that I was all in from the beginning, and loved seeing how Catalina had become a strong and confident young woman. While she is still finding her footing, the expression, "You've come a long way baby!" whispered in my head. She understands what she's up against and will do what she needs to to accomplish it. Family is everything to her, and she'd do anything for them even if that means selling a bit of her soul.

Alessandro Sagredo was a real surprise. While there was no doubt he'd be Catalina's love interest, he was a twist I never saw coming. He is so very different from who I knew him to be, or rather thought I knew him to be. Everything I thought I knew about him was wrong. I loved learning a little of his back story, and look forward to learning even more about him. I loved how he always had Catalina's back and he's so much more than just a pretty face. We quickly learn, he's a multifaceted character with many secrets and layers.

The mystery of what happened to Sigourney Etterson and her daughter kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. There were twists and surprises at every turn. The story had depth and layers to it which Catalina had to uncover one secret at a time in order to unravel the mystery of it all. Drama, suspense, and questions abound as what is being hidden comes to light.

I couldn't help but give this story 5 out of 5 roses. The world the writing team of Ilona Andrews has created is fun, complex, complicated, and dangerous on a grand scale. The mystery kept me guessing but unable to solve whodunit until all was revealed. I love when that happens. I enjoyed the romance that is slowly blossoming between Alessandro and Catalina. I loved how the Baylor women make their men work for their favor. I also loved how almost everything isn't all what it first appears to be. It's like one giant puzzle box that once one puzzle unfolds, another is unearthed. On the Lisarenee Romance Scale, this one earned a BLUSH rating--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred. Like many urban fantasy stories, this romance will take its time to increase in intensity and come to full bloom, and I can't wait for when it does. I HIGHLY recommend this series. I love where Ilona Andrews is taking us! It was so good.

Order of the Hidden Legacy series:

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