It took me a bit less than six hours to read this book, and that’s including the time I spent to stop and breathe. Yes, like everything Ilona Andrews writes, Burn for Me was insanely addictive, filled with their signature magic-laced action and another addition to their canon of loyal, sardonic heroines who (apparently) underestimate their own appeal. This heroine is Nevada Baylor (THAT is a NAME!), owner and chief field agent of a family firm of private investigators that is controlled by a larger corporate agency. In her world, power families of magic users have strategically bred over time to keep — and grow — power within their families, and those clans wield considerable influence politically, economically, socially… you name it. There are five strata of magic users that designate their relative skill levels — ranging from Minor on the low end to Prime on the highest end — and several types of magic that those users specialize in (think pyrokinesis, telekinesis, telepathy, etc.) Nevada uses what she describes as a type of will-based magic, but it’s clear that she’s never really explored the extent of her abilities or strength. Instead, she particularly utilizes her capability as a human lie-detector to interview clients. It’s made her very good in her job as a small-time investigator, and it’s kept her family clothed and fed, if not extravagantly so.
That all changes when her boss, Augustine Montgomery, asks her to detain and deliver Adam Pierce, a Prime pyrokinetic who has gone rogue from his elite and powerful family and is on a crime spree, the most recent of which killed a police officer and has the entire city on alert. Recognizing she has no choice but to accept the assignment, as it was delivered with an ultimatum, Nevada begins the seemingly impossible task of bringing Adam to heel. Using the limited resources available to her and her own cunning, she intrigues Adam enough that he agrees to meet with her, if not to allow her to return him to his family. The fact that he allowed the meet, though, was enough to get the attention of another player in the game: Mad Rogan, the relative of a patsy whom Adam manipulated into being an accomplice for the most recent crime. Seeing that Nevada was the most likely way to get to Adam, Rogan kidnaps her but is unable to get anything useful out of her, since Nevada knows very little herself. After this less-than-optimal beginning, the two end up teaming up, as they each bring something to the table that the other can benefit from, so they’re stronger together than as adversaries.
And, y’know, sparks fly. This book has all the classic Andrews hallmarks: tantalizing slow-burn sexual/romantic chemistry, an equally charismatic pair of people who are just as well-suited as professional partners as (potential) lovers, fascinating world-building that interjects magical consequences into familiar modern cities, and more; yet, this new series still feels fresh. Does Nevada seem to have a pretty remarkably similar personality to Kate Daniels, heroine of the eponymous best-selling series? Yeah, probably. But there are key differences too: Kate, for instance, is an unabashedly powerful magic user with combat training, and she feels no compunction about killing. Nevada, on the other hand, will kill in self-defense if necessary, but she abhors doing it and thinks less of Mad when he does it (Kate would call it a tick in the ‘pro’ column.) Furthermore, while Nevada is no idiot and certainly not naive, she appears to overall have a positive opinion of her fellow man and doesn’t go into new situations automatically mistrusting the people she’s about to encounter. So while their jokes and jobs are very much alike, Andrews includes enough subtle differences between them to demonstrate, hey! Here are two Kickass UF/PNR Heroines (because that’s definitely a thing) who are actually not the same person because we all totally respect that three-dimensional characters are more fun than fiesty clones who kick ass because they’re not like other girls, right? Good talk!
Anyway, the upcoming sequel? Insert “give it to me!” gif here.