The first book in a brand new series from #1 New York Times bestseller, Ilona Andrews.
Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career – a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. 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 or 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.
You can read an excerpt here.
Alright, first off, wow that cover is pretty cheesy, isn’t it? If I wasn’t a die-hard Ilona Andrews enthusiast, that cover might just have sent me eye-rolling for the hills – why is it paranormal romance covers are so often…that, I ask you? (And they wonder why romance readers were the first to embrace the glorious anonymity of the e-reader…)
But fear not boys and girls, behind that cover does indeed lie an Ilona Andrews book, in every respect – magical mayhem, familial insanity, and sexual tension galore, as our would-be couple butt heads and face down death and destruction in much the same manner as Kate and Curran. And yes, the chemistry is indeed of our favorite hate/love variety (think Lizzy & Darcy).
As for the world, it’s kind of a loose antecedent of the Andrews’ Kinsmen short stories (speaking of which, if you haven’t read Silver Shark, go do that right now – it’s a ridiculous amount of fun), as this series also revolves around mega-corporation type Houses whose lofty privilege rests on a foundation of wealth, ruthlessness, and hereditary magical abilities. And caught right in the middle of those high-and-mighty power struggles is Nevada, a down-but-never-out P.I. of the Veronica Mars variety, who is just scraping tooth and nail to keep her family business afloat. So when Nevada gets blackmailed into taking a case way out of her league and above her pay grade, she finds herself in the crossfire of two highly destructive, exceedingly narcissistic Primes (the most dangerous designation of magic user), both of whom end up trying to use her for their own purposes. Needless to say sparks, incendiaries, and all manner of magical pyrotechnics fly.
But Nevada (much like Kate Daniels) is not one to take things lying down, and as a narrator she is just as wry, stubborn, and savvy as you could wish – and while yes, there are plenty of scenes where she can’t help but ogle the way Mad Rogan fills out his t-shirt, she also never once loses her personality or sense of humor while she does it. This is a lady who is not going to be pushed around, even if she does happen to have a rather disconcerting attraction to one of the people doing the pushing – and that back and forth in Nevada’s head, the tug-of-war between her common sense and her subversive desire, is very entertaining to read. Overall it’s just wonderful to see a heroine who believes firmly in self-respect – so if something does happen, it’s going to happen on her terms, damnit. And that, that made me love her.
All in all, this book is just solid fun, with an entertaining plot, interesting world, and spicy romance at its core – but being the Andrews aficionado that I am, I have to say I did recognize some fairly strong echoes of things I’d read of Team Andrews’ before, particularly when it came to Rogan/Nevada vs. Kate/Curran. Some of the descriptions – of Rogan’s “alpha” ness, of his lean muscle and domineering personality – and even more so, the personality clashes between Rogan and Nevada, and even the “bet,” well, it did feel a bit like a familiar dance. And while I enjoy that particular refrain enough that I was more than happy to read it again for the first time, well, I also couldn’t help but notice it was there. Likewise, I had a similar niggling feeling of familiarity when it came to some of the Baylor family dynamics – particularly with respect to Nevada’s Grandma (vs. Rose’s Grandma, and Cecily’s Grandma, from the Edge series), and her younger sisters, Catalina and Arabella (vs. Julie, from Kate Daniels) – but again, it never bothered me enough to detract from the story. It was more just a comfortable sense of familiarity.
Though what this book does have in particular, that is entirely its own, is a lovely subtext about what happens to veterans after they come home, after the war. From Nevada’s Mom to Rogan’s security staff, from drug addiction and emotional fallout to the struggle to find a job, this book quietly gives us a look at the many difficulties a soldier faces when transitioning back to civilian life, and the toll it takes, on them and their families – and that I really, really loved. To be honest, I think those are stories criminally undertold, and I think it all added a lovely layer of real-world struggle to this one.
So in the end, this book was everything I’ve come to expect from my favorite writing team, and I will definitely be back for more – but really, you knew that already. After all, it is an Ilona Andrews book.
Byrt Grade: A-
As Levar Burton likes to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…
My favorite thing about Andrews heroines is how hard they try. How doggedly they love and protect the ones that are theirs. How desperately they cloak their secrets. And how ferociously they fight to save the world.
This feels very similar to the Kate Daniels series with the magical and mundane worlds mixing, a reluctant working class heroine with hidden powers, and an extremely powerful alpha male. The characters and settings are different but the patented Ilona Andrews style is definitely there.