The husband-wife author team of Ilona Andrews began their new HIDDEN LEGACY urban fantasy series in 2014 with Burn for Me.
In an alternative reality to our world, a serum discovered in 1863 unleashed people’s magical talents. As the powerful and rich sought the serum as a new way for their families to gain more power and wealth, others realized the potential it raised for chaos and destruction, and locked it away — too late. Magical talent now runs in families, with magical dynasties forming, and the strength of a person’s magic becoming a major factor in whom they might marry in these families. The most powerful magical users are known as Primes.
Nevada Baylor has magical powers — among other things, she always knows when someone is lying — but Nevada isn’t a member of a powerful family. In fact, she does her best to stay under the radar and hide her powers from the world. She’s the head of her family’s private investigation firm, taking low-level jobs like investigating cheating spouses. They’re staying afloat, though not by much, and when the head of their parent company forces her to take on a high profile and highly dangerous job, bringing in Adam Pierce, the man responsible for an arson that left an off-duty police officer dead, without involving the police, Nevada knows her family business isn’t likely to survive… and neither is she.
If that weren’t bad enough, it turns out that one of the most notorious magical Primes in the country, Connor “Mad” Rogan, is determined to find his relative, a teenage boy who assisted Adam Pierce with the arson. Rogan is a sexy billionaire with Prime telekinetic powers, sufficient to destroy a city. And Nevada is in Mad Rogan’s way. He kidnaps Nevada and uses his secondary power of telepathy to try find out what she knows about Pierce.
Telepathy was will based. My magic was also will based, and in all of the time I had been alive, I had never met a person on whom it hadn’t worked… He might be a dragon, but if he tried to swallow me whole, I’d make him choke. I scooted forward, trying to get as comfortable in my restraints as I could, and liked my dry lips. “Okay, tough guy. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Once Mad Rogan and Nevada each realize they can’t make the other go away, they begin to reluctantly cooperate as they try to reel in their targets, while trying to figure out why the arson was committed. It doesn’t make it easier for Nevada that she’s so strongly attracted to Rogan, when she doesn’t want any part of his world.
While I didn’t find the world-building in Burn for Me as complex and compelling as Andrews’ KATE DANIELS series, there are compensating factors that made Burn for Me an exciting read. The power exercised by magical families and the different types of magical talents were intriguing. Nevada’s family, which includes an ex-military mother whose magical power is never missing her target and a crusty mechanic grandmother, along with assorted siblings, adds a nice humorous touch to the story.
Mad Rogan is a bit of a cliché — the rich, hot, powerful but emotionally damaged guy — but he grew on me over the course of the book. He seems irretrievably damaged at first, but gradually more layers to his personality and past are disclosed. By the end of the book he’s a sympathetic character.
The mystery on which the plot is based was a fairly good one by urban fantasy standards. I found it less convoluted and easier to follow than some of the Kate Daniels plots. There was an unexpected twist that could have been better handled or foreshadowed, but overall the plot holds together well and is an enjoyable ride with some fun tongue-in-cheek humor and a confident, determined heroine.
I recommend Burn for Me for fans of romantic urban fantasies. The second book in this series, White Hot, is coming out in October 2015, and I’ll absolutely be reading it as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.