I didn’t come into Burn for Me (2014) by Ilona Andrews (a husband/wife writing team) with very high expectations. Although I like romance, especially suspense and action-oriented romance, I generally don’t like magic. Fantasy is not my go-to genre. But I saw a review on Cannonball, needed something to read, and tried to be open-minded.
Burn for Me is Book 1 of the Hidden Legacy Series, which includes three books–all of which I read shortly after reading this one. Because I don’t know how to classify books, I would have called it an action/romance with magic, but it seems other reviewers are calling it urban fantasy. The main protagonist throughout the series is Nevada Baylor. She lives in Houston, in a world where magic is a large part of life and a major part of your social standing. Primes are people with the highest level of magic, and thus the highest social standing. Because magical ability is passed down through blood, bloodlines and marriage are very important to the magical families at the top of the hierarchy. In some ways this is reminiscent of Regency era romances where snobbery about bloodlines abounds.
Nevada Baylor took over her father’s private investigator business after his death. Even though she is young, she has a great deal of responsibility on her shoulders. Nevada runs the business that takes care of her whole family, including: her two sisters, mother, grandmother, and cousin. Her main concern is making sure they will be okay. Nevada is very good at her job because she can tell when people are lying to her.
When another young prime starts running amok around the city, Nevada is hired/forced to go after him by the prime that holds the mortgage to her business. She realizes this is akin to a suicide mission, but really has no choice. To complicate things, Connor “Mad” Rogan has his own interest in the case. Mad Rogan is another Prime, powerful and rich beyond comprehension, known as a psychopath, and famous for leveling an entire city with his powers. Nevada and Connor begin working together out of necessity as they figure out what is going on and try to save Houston. For most of the book, Mad Rogan is too dangerous and crazy to be likable, but there is something about a man who is able to do almost anything to protect you. I always thought powerful, arrogant men were a turn-off for me, but Andrews makes me like Rogan despite myself.
I was surprised by how much I liked the magic in this book. Instead of feeling random and contrived, it made the story and the characters’ relationships richer. People are gifted by different magical powers. Nevada’s are all mind-related. She can tell if people are lying and sometimes see what they are thinking, while Mad Rogan can move objects and destroy things. Other people can talk with animals or even change their appearance. It also helped that Nevada could hold her own because Rogan can be a bully, and he would have been wholly unlikable if she couldn’t stand up to him. Burn for Me sets up the romance between the two, but leaves most of it for the next two books.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.