Thursday, June 22, 2017

Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire...

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn't sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she's kidnapped by Connor "Mad" Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan's after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she's getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I have loved the husband/wife duo Ilona Andrews since the start of the Kate Daniels series! I was quite eager to try a new series even though paranormal hasn't been my go to genre lately. I'm so glad I picked up this book! Amazing! Yet again, we have a super strong female lead who isn't looking for someone to help her, Nevada can do that all on her own! I love how amazing Andrews write their leading ladies. They are written with strong wills, a bit of innocence, and a lot of butt kicking! The world building is perfectly timed and doesn't give too much info dump on us as readers. Andrews does have a tendency to over-descript, but I wasn't too put off by it because the meat of the story was amazing.

Mad Rogan, our man hero, was written strong and sexy with an abundance of smirk and overconfidence. In other words, just perfect. I only wish we didn't have to refer to Mad Rogan AS Mad Rogan every single time we spoke of him, but that's classic Andrews.

Nevada is a private investigator, she and her family live in the warehouse, which is also their business offices, after having to sell their home to pay for treatment for their dying father. Nevada is trying to keep the business afloat after her dad's death and put her siblings through school. Her mother is ex-military, who was injured during duty, and her grandmother is an armored vehicle tech. In this world people have magic and either you're nothing, or a notable up to a Prime magic user. Nevada has kept her particular magic under wraps for fear of the government manipulating her into using it for nefarious reasons. She's a truth seer, but also so much more than she knows. Mad Rogan is a Prime telekinetic. He can destroy entire downtown areas with barely a blink. When he needs to apprehend the same client that Nevada is also trying to bring in, the two team up and crazy sparks fly. Loved the banter between these characters and Nevada shooting down Mad's advances at each turn. Awesome cat and mouse that made me reach for book two without a pause. I'm excited for a great new series!!!

OMG... This has to be the best book I've read in quite a while. I absolutely could not put it down. I LOVED every single character we met and each was so different while playing such important roles in both the characters’ lives and the story.

Oh... Rogan. Mad Rogan. So strong and stubborn and... wonderful. The poor man has been through quite a bit and people fear him because of that, but not Nevada. Well, she does, but she is determined to not let that stop her from getting her job done and protecting her family and the city of Houston.

There is so much about this book that I enjoyed I can't put it into words. The plot is great. The hero is great. The twists are wonderful. Oh, and then there are the sarcastic one-liners that had me laughing unexpectedly.

I can't wait to get my hands on more of this couple.

I can’t stop fangirling over this series! I read this first story in a single sitting and ended up reading the whole trilogy back to back. This is brilliant, action-packed Urban Fantasy writing. Within the first few pages, Nevada joined the ranks of Mercy, Gin, and Anita and Cat as one of my favourite kick ass UF heroines.

When we meet Nevada, she’s an underdog. Born poor, to a family without much useful magic in a world where magic is everything, Nevada relies on her brains and her skills to keep her family together. She’s smart, brave, and loyal – and she’s got more magic than she wants anyone to know.

I love that Nevada is determined not to make this a romance. She is courted by two dangerous, handsome bad boys, both full of charm and flattery, but her priorities are clear. Nevada needs to save her family business and she doesn’t have time for romance. I love her sarcastic rebuttals and her refusal to accept help. In this first book, readers warm quickly to Mad Rogan but Nevada doesn’t let herself. The result is wonderful chemistry and an intense, slow build of emotion that I wouldn’t quite call a romance.

Mad Rogan remains an enigma for most of this story. He is a living legend with unquantifiable destructive power. We first meet him when he kidnaps Nevada and his later attempts to redeem himself don’t always go to plan. But I couldn’t help falling hard for him, and anyone who loves a bad boy will be madly in love with him well before the end of the first book.

I love Nevada’s slightly dystopian world where magical abilities provide power; a world where wealth and magic have created a structured caste system in a parallel USA. Each character has a different magical ability, which makes for fascinating superhero style action sequences. And this story is full of action. It is also full of layered plots and subplots. Some resolve in this first book but this is the first in a trilogy and I’d dare any reader not to pick up the second book the moment this finishes.

The difference between good UF and unforgettable UF always lies in the characters. Alongside Nevada and Mad Rogan, Nevada’s family makes this series special. Nevada may front the family PI business, but she is supported by her tank building grandmother and her sniper mother. Nevada’s siblings and cousins are equally quirky and the whole family only gets better as the book and the series progresses. Together, they have the strength and the smarts to stand up to the wealthy and powerful members of Houston’s elite.

3 stars in total
2 stars on the world-building
5 stars on the entertainment factor.

As a fan of the writing duo, I was ecstatic to start this series. I was hooked from the first page, finding Nevada intriguing, her family giving off the warm and fuzzies. As the book evolved, I kept stumbling as I read. There is a lot of extraneous information on the pages, unnecessary minutiae. But it was the world-building I had the most problem with. I was confused for 100% of the entire book, and I'm hoping it's explained and expanded as the series progresses further.

I need to state I'm not a stranger to either Urban Fantasy or the writing style of Ilona Andrews. But the delivery and execution of the world-building was a huge problem for me. I just rolled with it, getting the rough outline of what was going on in the world, but where I needed finer details, there were none, because it was buried beneath a ton of minutiae that wasn't of any importance to the progression of the story.

The intriguing characters kept my interests when the story itself lost me. Nevada is a strong character – loyal, practical, flawed and insecure, and compassionate, and this creates a fully developed narrator who is easy to relate to and root for – however, I found how she was instantly attracted to every male a bit out of character, like tween crushing levels of "OMG, he's so hot!" (both figuratively and literally). This made her appear to be vapid and immature, when that wasn't how she was written to be. Nevada kept equating Mad Rogan to a dragon. Not to point out the obvious, but wouldn't that have been more apt for Adam, our pyro? Ya know, dragons and FIRE?

The secondary cast was just as intriguing. Nevada's entire family were a pleasure to see interact with her. There was a ton of characters, family, side characters, and mentioned characters. Then there are Mad Rogan and Adam, who most definitely hit on my psycho meter (I have a thing for the crazy guys in fiction).

Be forewarned: many readers may not enjoy a romantic entanglement which began via kidnapping, drugging, violence, and remained on an extortion level throughout the book, sometimes taunting and abusive in the way they interact. There is a difference between alpha behavior and abusive behavior – one is a personality trait and the other is about control and a lack of respect for their partner. Mad Rogan is no alpha.

I also need to state, this book/series rings more toward paranormal romance than Urban Fantasy. The cover and title most certainly describe the contents to a certain extent, but at the same time, it's almost like the book had an identity crisis. The title and cover are more paranormal romance in nature (the title suggests she's with Adam, not Rogan. Burn?), yet it's not sexual enough to be PNR, but not enough solid world-building to be UF. Identity crisis.

Gavin (Mad Rogan's cousin) and Adam were significant for 50% of the book, and just dissolved for the last half as the story warped into 'using action to bring about a romantic entanglement.' The storyline itself was interesting, what I could grasp of it, but it devolved into a means to an end to propel Rogan and Nevada into each other's orbit for the sake of 'romance.' The conclusion – ultimate reason/true 'enemy' for all that was occurring on the pages was ridiculous.

I'd go in-depth and explain the magic system in Burn for Me, but that's the problem. It was never truly explained. Nevada was too into describing everyone's clothing, actions, and even what coffee mugs they were holding. One of the first pieces of advice I received as a writer was by an Urban Fantasy author. "Just say the character waved. Every reader envisions that. Don't waste time explaining how the arm moved the wrist to move the hand. Just say the character waved." In other words, if it's not important, doesn't set the scene, or propel the story forward, don't put it on the page. Don't waste your time or the reader's. This is Urban Fantasy, explain the world-building, and don't detail every character's clothing choices or redundantly express how hot they are, and not in the way Adam makes them hot.

When it came time for Nevada to know something (which I felt was odd, since she was of this world, and a magic-user too, but she was kept in the dark, because the readers were in the dark, yet it made her seem incompetent and unintelligent), someone would explain it to her (and us, the readers) in an info-dump. The book was filled with so much information, the important stuff was buried or not even shown.

There are families (or houses) where Primes hold the upper echelon of power in the community. Primes are the strongest magic-users, with levels of magical strength filtering out throughout the rest of the population. But the magic was never truly explained or explored on the pages. All the sudden, another type of magic would be used on the pages, and the authors would explain how it's a major one (but Nevada's isn't). It was random, not plotted out, and cropped up out of nowhere. But when a character came on scene, Nevada would go on a five-page tangent about their entire family history, with at least six characters from maternal and paternal great-grandparents, to sisters, cousins, and friends of the family – I had NO idea who these people were, if I should take notes (because there was no way I was going to remember it), and multiple mentions of how magic wasn't prevalent 'back then' but never explained (truly) how, when, where these magic abilities cropped up. Eventually this was explained, but it didn't feel definitive. Everything was 'hinted' around, but never truly explored, easily warped to fill a plot hole.

To be honest, the book felt as if it were written on the fly, not plotted out in-depth. "We better explain this *here*" the authors said to each other. So they used an info-dump that sometimes contradicted a previous info-dump. I'm hoping as the series unfolds this will feel more organic and flow better, with a solid world-building foundation that won't change on a whim.

I enjoyed the characters, the speed the story unfolded, and am intrigued to see where it heads next. I enjoy this author duo, but the execution on this first-in-a-new-series book wasn't organically flowing and easy for the reader to get a grasp on the world-building (because I felt the authors didn't have a grasp on their own world-building).

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.) They have co-authored two New York Times and USA Today bestselling series—the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and the romantic urban fantasy of The Edge—and are working on the next volumes for both. They live in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews to read and review. Review copy purchased by blog.

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