Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Posted September 5, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee
Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3.5
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 160
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

This book is the bridge between Nevada’s story and Catalina’s story. I wasn’t sure I would really like Catalina. She was okay, but Nevada and Arabella are my favorite, followed by Leon. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Catalina was a breath of fresh air. I’m really looking forward to continuing this series.

After a disaster with her wedding planner, Nevada decides that Catalina is the one who can make her wedding go off without a hitch. Catalina highly doubts that, but she doesn’t tell Nevada. She recruits Arabella and Leon to help. Together they are going to give Nevada the wedding of her dreams. Then she turns into a bridezilla. All of a sudden, nothing seems to be going right. The cake gets poisoned, a Rogan family heirloom is stolen, and Nevada wants blue lillies. That completely clashes with the colors she originally chose, but Nevada is adamant.

Catalina is soon being dragged in a dozen different directions. One of Rogan’s relatives decides he needs to seduce Catalina so he can get the inheritance when Rogan dies. Never mind that Nevada will be the one inheriting. When Catalina discovers what is happening, she’s appalled. And angry. She continues to search for the heirloom, certain that it’s one of Rogan’s family members. Chaos ensues.

I really enjoyed this book. Like I stated above, I wasn’t wild about Catalina, but this one changed my mind. I think she’s going to be one hell of a heroine.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hidden Legacy

four-stars


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Joint Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 26, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly, Rowena
Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Diamond Fire
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrew comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

Sapphire Flames is the first book in the Hidden Legacy series featuring Catalina as the main protagonist. This book starts approximately a year after the events of Wildfire. Catalina is now head of House Baylor and in charge of the family. Nevada and Rogan are out of the country, so Catalina truly is on her own. When a new case lands in her lap – this one involving family – she’ll need all her resources to keep it together…especially since Alessandro Segredo is back, and somehow involved.

Holly: Nevada and Rogan left some pretty big shoes to fill. I don’t want to say I went into this book with super high expectations, but I do think I expected something other than I got. I didn’t love Catalina as much as I thought I would. How about you?

Rowena: I did. I absolutely loved Catalina and I’m so ready for more of her and Alessandro. I like that Catalina isn’t the billy badass that Nevada is but she’s still growing into the person she’s meant to be and I think her powers are so interesting. I have every faith that she’s going to be just as awesome as Nevada and I look forward to being here for all of her adventures.

Holly: I knew Catalina would be different from Nevada, but I think I expected her to be more mature than she was. All her self-doubt really bothered me after awhile.

I’m looking forward to some more Alessandro. I’m super curious about him. I’m curious about Alessandro’s mission and why he’s being all cagey about stuff. This is one of those times when I really wish the book was alternating POVs.

Rowena: I am, too. I’m really hoping that in the next book, we’ll get more into Alessandro’s mission, his revenge and just his whole story in general. I do agree that they seemed to fall in love super fast but that didn’t bother me. I probably would have fallen in love at first sight with Alessandro’s fine ass too. Ha. Maybe their powers manifested to them that they were going to fall in love, haha, who knows. I bought it and I’m here for it.

Holly: I didn’t connect with Catalina and Alessandro as much as I thought I would. I liked them both, I thought they had a strong dynamic together, but I don’t know…something was lacking there for me.

I guess I didn’t understand why they were in love. They barely spent time together. Yes, they both had a teenage crush, but that was based on what? A couple IG photos and one conversation? I just didn’t feel that connection, so the ending didn’t impact me as much as it could have.

Maybe it was because he was such a flirt, but I didn’t get the sense that his feelings were genuine. Maybe if we’d seen him being more serious? I’m not sure.

Rowena: I think that Ilona Andrews writes entertaining stories and this wasn’t any different for me. I couldn’t read this story fast enough. I enjoyed everything, I look forward to seeing where Catalina’s story takes her in the next book, and I’m here for seeing each of the young Baylor’s really grow into themselves and their powers. I really want to see them learn their powers and see their powers grow as they learn them. Man, there’s so much to look forward to. I can’t wait.

Rowena: I also really, really want more Arabella. I would definitely be on board with her getting her own set of books as well as Leo. They’re all such interesting characters and I think they would carry their own books really well.

Holly: I agree that IA writes entertaining stories, though. and I love the Baylor family. Arabella, Leon, Grandma Freida..I heart them all.

Rowena: I inhaled this book so fast both times that I read it and I’m so here for all of it. The second time that I read it, I mean to savor the experience but nope…I was too thirsty for more so I just jumped right in. Andrews means business with this series. This was a great addition to an already fabulous series.

Holly: While I love this world, I spent most of the book impatient with Catalina. I wanted her to stop all her internal “I’m not good enough, he doesn’t even like me” nonsense and get on with growing up. I’m waiting for her to grow into being the Head of House and to start acting like the Prime she is.

Still, for all that I can’t deny I was super excited to jump into this one and I can’t wait for the next. I’m giving it 3.75 out of 5. You?

Rowena: I’m giving it 4.25 out of 5.

Final Grade

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Hidden Legacy

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 25, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

We all fell in love with Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series, and we’re so excited that it’s continuing with Catalina. I can’t wait to see where things go with her and the rest of the Baylor family.

Sunday Spotlight: Sapphire Flames by Ilona AndrewsSapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrew comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

I was swimming through the warm water of the Gulf when someone knocked on the sky. The bright little fishes following me scattered, the crystal-clear water
vanished, and I landed on the sand.

The sky above me shuddered. Boom, boom, boom.

The dream tore like wet tissue, and for a disorienting moment I didn’t know where I was. Slowly the familiar contours of my bedroom came into focus through the gloom. The alarm clock on my nightstand glowed with bright red. 2:07 a.m.

Someone was pounding on my door. “Catalina!” my sister yelled. “Get up!”

Panic pierced me. I jumped out of the bed, sprinted across the bedroom, and flung the door open. “Did the plane go down?”

“What? No!”

I sagged against the door frame in relief. Our older sister, Nevada; her husband; and her mother-in-law were flying to Spain for a funeral. Over the ocean. It caused me no end of anxiety.

“The plane is fine,” Arabella told me.

“Then what is it?”

Arabella’s face was flushed, and her blond hair stuck out from her head in weird directions. She wore an old, stained Sailor Moon T-shirt, and her basketball shorts were on backward.

“Augustine is downstairs.”

“Augustine who? Augustine Montgomery?”

“Yes!”

I snapped out of my relief back to full alert. “Why?” Why in the world would the Head of House Montgomery be downstairs, in the middle of the night?

“He wants to see you. He says it’s an emergency.

Hurry up before Mom shoots him.”

She turned around and ran down the stairs leading from my loft suite to the rest of the warehouse we used as our home and place of business.
Augustine was absolutely the last person I expected at two o’clock in the morning. Something terrible had happened.

I looked at myself. I wore an oversize grey T-shirt that came to my knees and said “I ♥ Sleep.” No time to change. I took the stairs barefoot and followed my sister into a wide hallway. The light in the media room was on, casting a warm electric glow and illuminating the way just enough to see.

The hallway led to a door on the left where a small section of the warehouse was designated as the Baylor Agency’s office. The entire family congregated in front of the door, all except Mom.

Grandma Frida, thin, tan, with a halo of platinum curls, looked worried. Bern, my oldest cousin, resembled a bear awakened halfway through his hibernation—big, muscular, his light brown hair disheveled, holding a tablet that looked too small for his hands. Next to him, Leon, his younger half-brother and complete opposite, leaned on the wall, totally awake. Lean and dark-haired, Leon was a ball of wiry energy. And he still wore the jeans and T-shirt I had seen him in last night. Either he fell asleep in his clothes, or he felt the need to be fully dressed at two o’clock in the morning for some nefarious reason. Leon didn’t have any other kind of reasons.

Ahead of me, Arabella darted up the stairs and into her bedroom and emerged with a huge Texas A&M sweatshirt. She threw it at me. “Boobs.”

Bern woke up enough to roll his eyes.

“Thanks.” I pulled the sweatshirt on, hiding the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra. “How did Augustine get here?”

At night, access to the warehouse was blocked by concrete barriers. Only one road remained open, guarded by a checkpoint staffed with our security people, who were supposed to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening. Augustine was ruthless. He could have killed us all in our sleep.

“Did our guards let him in? Did anyone call and say he was coming?”

“Funny thing,” Leon said. “We have this lovely foot- age.”

Bern turned the tablet toward me. A view from the surveillance camera inside the security booth showed two guards, a Hispanic female in her forties and a white man in his mid-twenties with dark hair. Lopez and Wal- ton. A silver Bentley Bentayga pulled up to the booth. The driver’s side back window of the car rolled down, revealing Augustine’s perfect face and an expensive looking suit.

“Hello, Ms. Baylor,” Walton said.

Augustine nodded. He must’ve looked like me. I was the only person the guards called Ms. Baylor. My mother was Mrs. Baylor, Nevada was Mrs. Rogan, and Arabella made them call her by her name.

“Check the log, check the log . . .” Leon sang out.

The log of arrivals and departures lay right there, on the counter. It would show that I was already home.

The guard reached over, and his hand passed above the log to the switch attached to the barrier mechanism.

“Epic fail!” Leon announced.

Walton flipped the switch and a heavy metal clang announced the spiked barrier retracting. The window rolled back up and the armored vehicle slid forward and out of view.

I couldn’t even. My ability to even was severely com- promised.

Lopez frowned. “When did they get a Bentley?”

The male guard shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe it was a birthday present.”

“Dumbass,” Arabella said.

Augustine Montgomery was an Illusion Prime. He could look like anyone, he could sound like anyone, and he could pass both fingerprint and retinal scanners. And he’d just breezed past our security like it was nothing.

“We’re in trouble,” I said.

“No shit,” Leon said.

“Catalina,” Grandma Frida said, “your mother is in the conference room with that ass and a Desert Eagle. Get in there before she puts a .50 round between his eyes.”

I opened the door, walked into the office hallway, and shut the door behind me. This part of the ware- house with its high-traffic beige carpet, a drop ceiling, and glass walls looked just like any regular work space. The three offices on my right and the break room with a kitchenette on my left lay shrouded in gloom. Only the conference room, just past the break room, was brightly lit, and the electric light shone through the glass into the hallway.

I took a step and stopped. As of three days ago, when I officially turned twenty-one, I also became the Head of House Baylor. We were a brand-new House, formed only three years ago. Our grace period, a reprieve which shielded us from attacks by other Houses, was about to expire. I had dealt with magical heavy hitters before in the course of our business, but this would be my first interaction with another Prime as the Head of a House. And Augustine was a shark in a four-thousand-dollar suit; a sleek, deadly great white with razor-sharp teeth.

I had to do this right. I couldn’t just barge in there.

Emergency or not, I had to act the part.

My stomach fluttered.

Think Prime, Head of the House, Victoria Tremaine’s granddaughter, confident, dangerous, not afraid, woken up in the middle of the night . . . annoyed. Definitely annoyed.

I walked into the conference room with a slightly irritated expression.

Augustine pivoted toward me in his chair. Louis Auchincloss, who wrote novels about polite society and old money, once famously said, “Perfection irritates as well as it attracts, in fiction as in life.” Augustine was deeply irritating.

Being an Illusion Prime, Augustine crafted his appearance the way one would paint a masterpiece. His face was beautifully sculpted with defined cheekbones, a square jaw that communicated masculinity without implying brutishness, a straight nose, and a broad fore- head. His cheeks were slightly concave, just enough to communicate maturity. A virtuoso barber had turned his blond, nearly platinum hair into a masterpiece. A thin pair of glasses was the only imperfection Augustine al- lowed himself and it wasn’t enough. There was some- thing ageless and cold about him. He was about as alive as a marble statue.

At the other end of the table my mother sat watching him like a coiled cobra. Her right hand stayed under the table, most likely touching the Desert Eagle .50, the largest legal caliber for a handgun in the US. It was the closest thing to handheld artillery Mom could conceal under the table. It could send a round through a full refrigerator and kill a person on the other side.

My mother had spent almost ten years as a sniper and her magic guaranteed that she didn’t miss. If she killed Augustine, Montgomery International Investigations, the firm Augustine owned, would crush us. If he miraculously survived, he would kill her. As happened often in life, there were no good options. I had to get him out of here.

I made my tone cold and annoyed. “Mr. Montgomery, while you’re always welcome in our home, it’s the middle of the night.”

“I apologize,” he said. “It’s an emergency.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a phone, and showed it to me. On the screen, an adolescent boy smiled into the cam- era. Bright red hair cut short, grey eyes, pale skin, and the smug grin of a teenage boy who has just gotten away with mischief. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I’d seen him before. “This is Ragnar,” Augustine said. “He’s fifteen. He has a dog named Tank. He likes detective books and the Sherlock Holmes show. He plays a Ranger in Hero Tournament. Two days ago, his mother and sister died in a fire.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Right now, he’s standing on the roof of Memorial Hermann Hospital. He’s thinking of jumping and he’s a Prime, so nobody can get to him. If we don’t hurry, his broken body will be the leading story on the morning news.”

Alarm rolled through me in an electric rush. “Augustine, you know that’s not what I do. I’ve never pulled someone off a roof before. If I fail, I’ll be responsible for his death . . .”

“But you can do it. It’s within your power.” He looked straight at me. “Your sister asked me for a favor once. I’m now asking you for assistance, one Head of House to another. He has one sister left. Right now, she’s at the hospital praying he doesn’t fall to his death.”

And if I tried and failed, there would be a grief- stricken Prime who could turn all of her agony and rage onto me. This was beyond reckless.

“I don’t know if I can help you. I may make this worse.”

Augustine’s composure cracked, and a human being looked back at me through his eyes. “He’s just a child, Catalina. He already lost so much. He’s in the worst pain of his short life and he has no idea how to contain it. He just wants to stop hurting. Please try.”

I opened my mouth to tell him no and thought of a boy standing on a ledge, all alone in the dark. So desperate and hurt that he was willing to end it in the most painful way possible.

My father had stood on a ledge like that, except his ledge was cancer. We had tried so hard to pull him from it. We fought for every minute. We sold the house and moved here, into the warehouse, to pay for his medical bills. Then we mortgaged our business to Augustine to pay for experimental treatments. My dad had built Baylor Investigative Agency from the ground up. He’d viewed it as his legacy, a business that would feed and clothe us, and we had used it as collateral to borrow money. It felt like a betrayal, and we hid it from my father, because it would have killed him faster than any cancer. In the end we only delayed the inevitable by a few months, but it was worth it. I would give anything for one more day with my dad. Anything.

Ragnar was only fifteen years old. “Yes. I’ll try.”

“Are you sure?” my mother asked. “Yes.”

“Take Leon with you,” she said.

“No.” If this situation turned ugly, I didn’t want him getting hurt.

“I’ll bring her back safe and sound,” Augustine promised.

My mother gave him her sniper stare. “You do that.”

Augustine’s silver Bentley sped south on Gessner Road. It was after 2:00 a.m. and even Houston’s roads lay empty. The chauffer squeezed every drop of speed out of the heavy armored car. Normally, the trip to Memorial Hermann would’ve taken at least fifteen minutes. We would make it in less than half of that. Augustine rode in the front passenger seat, presenting me with a view of his blond head. I really wanted to reach over and smack it. If someone told me this yesterday that I would end up in the backseat of Augustine’s car in the middle of the night wearing a sweatshirt over my sleep T-shirt and a pair of sneakers without socks, I would’ve asked them what they were smoking and told them to seek professional help.

I missed my weapons. It made me feel naked.

Augustine was right though. Nevada did owe him a favor.

My father was born into House Tremaine, a small House consisting only of him and my grandmother Victoria. A truthseeker like Nevada, Victoria could wrench information from a person’s mind against their will. My father had no magic and Victoria was a terrible mother, so when he turned eighteen, he had escaped and started a new life under an assumed name. In her search for him, my grandmother had rampaged through the Houses all across the continent. Just mentioning her name made powerful Primes back off.

Three years ago, before we became a House, Victoria came looking for us. Augustine knew Nevada’s identity. He could’ve shared it with my grandmother and benefited from it, but instead he had allowed Nevada to mess with his mind, so Victoria left empty-handed. I hated debts of any kind. It would be good to get this one over with.

It didn’t change the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.

“How do you know the family?” I asked.

“Ragnar’s sister contacted MII in regard to her mother’s and sister’s deaths. She doesn’t think the fire was an accident.”

“Was it?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss the details.” Right. “Did you take the case?”

“She knows our rates.”

“You turned her down. Augustine! She came to you and you turned her down, and now her brother is going to kill himself.”

He looked in the rearview mirror, his expression iced over. “If I’m going to put my people in danger, I have to properly compensate them. I’m not running a charity, Catalina. You of all people should know how much can be at stake when one looks into a Prime’s death.”

Oh, I knew. When a team of hired killers stormed your home, sending tornados of fire and summoning monsters into the slaughter, it tended to leave a lasting impression.

I glanced out the windshield and saw the futuristic crown on top of the Memorial Hermann Tower, out- lined with glowing red, white, and blue triangles shining against the ink-black sky from the height of thirty-three floors. Almost there.

“Did you at least tell his sister what to expect if I have to use my magic?”

“I told her the boy would have to be sedated.”

The car pulled into the parking lot. A Hispanic man, his face frantic, ran to the car and swung my door open. A blast of January air hit me. Winter in Houston tended to be mild, but a cold front had come through and the temperature had dropped to below thirty. My bare knees shook.

“Did he jump?” Augustine barked. “No, sir.”

“Come on.” Augustine jumped out of the car.

I scrambled out of the vehicle. Wind tore at me with icy teeth.

Augustine and I hurried at a near run to the doorway. The glass doors slid open, letting us pass, and the warm air of the hallway bathed me. A group of people waited by the bank of elevators, some in scrubs, others in professional clothes, and all wearing the same panicked expression. They saw us and scurried out of the way, leaving behind a young woman with red hair. She turned. Recognition punched me.

“Runa? Runa Etterson?”

Her tearstained eyes widened in recognition. “Catalina?”

Three years ago, at Nevada’s wedding, an enemy of House Rogan poisoned the wedding cake. The only reason any of us were alive now, Augustine included, was because Runa purged the toxins before the cake was served. She was a Prime Venenata, a poison mage. She could kill everyone in this room in seconds. And the boy on the roof was her brother. Oh my God.

Augustine strode past me into the open elevator. “Catalina, there is no time.”

I had come this far. Poison mage or no, Ragnar was still a fifteen-year-old boy on the edge of a skyscraper’s roof. If I didn’t try to save him, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.

I hurried into the elevator. The doors slid shut. The last thing I saw was Runa looking at me like I was the answer to all her problems.

The elevator hummed, carrying us upward, brightly lit and perfectly normal. I caught my reflection in the mirrored wall. I looked like I had just rolled out of bed. There was a touch of surreal in it all: me in my sweat- shirt, standing next to impossibly perfect Augustine in an elevator of mirrors and electric lights and soft music. Maybe I was dreaming.

Runa’s mother and sister were dead. And Augustine must have quoted her an impossible price. I had planned to simply walk away if I managed to get the boy to safety, this changed everything.

“You didn’t tell me he was a Prime Venenata.”

“I told you he wouldn’t let anybody get to him.” Dread washed over me. “Did he kill anyone?”

Augustine sighed. “He’s a gentle child. He made them sick enough to turn back, but he didn’t inflict permanent damage.”

“What did he do?”

“Don’t worry. You’ll smell it.”

The numbers in the elevator’s digital display crawled up.

“When the doors open, turn left,” Augustine said. “Go to the door marked exit, and up one flight of stairs. There will be a metal door that will give you access to the roof.”

“That’s a terrible plan,” I told him.

“Ragnar will hesitate to hurt you. If he does, I’ll be there, and I’ll help.”

“If he sees you . . .” “He won’t see me.”

The elevator doors swung open with a soft chime. I made a left and followed the hallway to the exit door and up the stairs. My hands shook.

The air stank like acid and vomit. A trail of chunky stains marked the steps. I didn’t want to look too closely at it.

The ice-cold metal door handle burned my fingertips. I pushed it and stepped onto the roof. The dark sky un- folded above me, impossibly huge and black, with the crown glowing against it. The frigid wind pierced my body, going straight through me all the way to the bone. Ragnar stood on the very edge of the roof, a thin figure in faded jeans and a hoodie, balancing on a concrete ledge. He seemed so very small against the night, like an ant on a skyscraper.

He turned and looked at me, his face lit by the neon glow of the crown. I saw certainty and relief in his eyes. He wasn’t relieved to see me. He was relieved because he’d made up his mind and decided to jump. I had no time.

“Tell Runa I’m sorry—”

I hit him with everything I had.

When the Keeper of Records named my magic, he called me a siren, which fit me well, because like the sirens of legend, I called people to me and they couldn’t resist. And like ancient sirens, I had wings, beautiful magic wings nobody could see unless I let them. They snapped open behind my back now, as the focused tor- rent of magic drenched Ragnar.

He froze. His heels protruded an inch over the ledge.

One slip and he would die.

“Ragnar,” I called him, turning his name into a sing- song lure.

He licked his lips nervously. “Hi.”

“Hello. I’m Catalina.” Magic stretched from me to him and I wove more and more of it around him with every syllable.

“You’re so pretty,” he said.

“Thank you. It’s cold and dark. Do you think we could go inside?”

He nodded, fascinated.

I held out my hand. “It’s scary up here. Will you hold my hand?”

He moved, stumbled, teetering on the edge, his arms waving . . . My heart jerked, trying to leap out of my chest.

Augustine materialized out of thin air next to Ragnar, grabbed a handful of his hoodie, and yanked him back.

Runa’s brother landed on the concrete roof.

Holy crap. My knees almost gave out.

Ragnar righted himself, walked over, took my hand, and offered me a shy smile.

I smiled back. “Let’s go inside.”

We went through the door and down the stairs with Augustine bringing up the rear. I scanned him. Clean. None of my magic had hit him. I had focused all of it in a laser-tight beam on Ragnar. Augustine could turn himself invisible. Nevada would lose her mind when I told her.

We boarded the elevator. Sweat glistened on Augustine’s flawless forehead. He was breathing like he’d run up all thirty-three floors to the roof. Ragnar held my hand very gently, as if my fingers were made of glass. It wouldn’t last.

Most magic users had to put some effort into doing magic. I was the opposite. I had to hold mine in. When I was born, a nurse tried to kidnap me. She paid for it with her career. In the years that followed, before I learned to control my power, perfectly normal people did in- sane things to hold on to me. My elementary teacher at- tempted to smuggle me out of her classroom and into her car. My classmates tore out chunks of my hair so they could keep a piece of me.
Other kids were encouraged to be cute, to perform for adults. If I smiled, the adults became mesmerized, and if I wanted them to like me, they would love me with obsessive intensity. Their children would cry hysterically when I left the playground.

Right now, Ragnar loved me, madly, beyond all rea- son. Soon touching me wouldn’t be enough. He would want to hold me, crush me to him, rip out a lock of my hair to smell and taste. He’d want a piece of me to stroke and to bite.

The Keeper might as well have called me Orpheus. Sooner or later those who tasted my magic would want to tear me apart and they would love and worship every precious drop of my blood and shred of my flesh as they killed me. Only my doctor was immune; we didn’t know why. And my family. I didn’t need to magic them. They already loved me.

The elevator stopped. The doors swung open and Runa lunged to hug her brother. Her arms closed around him, breaking Ragnar’s hold on me.

Ragnar screamed as if cut. It was a raw, animal sound. His sister let go, stunned, and he dived at me and clamped my hand in his.

A man shouldered his way through the crowd, carrying a small medical case.

“Ragnar,” I called.

He gazed at me with adoration in his eyes. I knew it was temporary, but even so, it made me cringe.

“That gentleman is going to give you a shot. I’m scared of shots. Are you?”

“No.” He shook his head. “No, I’m brave.” “Will you show me how to be brave, Ragnar?”

He held his arm out, his gaze fixed on me. Runa hugged him. I watched the needle go in. “You’ll feel a little sleepy in a minute. It’s okay to fall asleep.”

“Don’t leave!”

“I won’t leave,” I promised. “I’ll stay here and hold your hand.”

Ragnar’s hold on my hand slipped. He sighed happily, closed his eyes, and sagged in his sister’s arms.

I turned to Augustine. “I need you to transport him back to the warehouse.”

“He needs to be under observation,” Augustine said.

“No, he needs to be back at the warehouse, so I can purge my magic from him. If he wakes up and I’m not there, he may escape and try to find me. And this time, people will die.”

Augustine turned to Runa. “It’s your call.”

I met her gaze. “You know me. You’ve seen what I can do. Please trust me on this.”

“Let’s go,” she said.

The trip home was taking considerably longer than the trip to get to the hospital. The chauffer seemed in no hurry, and the Bentley all but crawled up the dark street. Runa’s rented Nissan Rogue had no trouble keeping up. She had insisted on following us with Ragnar in her car. I sat in the back seat next to Augustine. The adrenaline had worn off, leaving behind a soft fatigue. If I hadn’t been in the vehicle of a dangerous Prime, I would have closed my eyes and gone to sleep. “Well done,” Augustine said.

I didn’t need his approval. “Nevada’s debt to you is paid in full. We’re even.”

“Agreed. Although technically it was a favor to House Etterson.”

“Your dealings with House Etterson are between you and Runa. I’m surprised you cared enough to get involved tonight.”

“I know what it’s like to be responsible for a younger brother.”

Oh. Humanity from Augustine. Unexpected.

Augustine tilted his head. “House Etterson may prove a valuable ally for you, if they survive. They now owe you a favor they can’t refuse. You need allies, Catalina. The reprieve granted to your House is about to expire.

People will be coming for you and yours. You’re powerful but inexperienced, and because of your sealed records, you are an unknown. Unfortunately, being an unknown isn’t enough of a deterrent.”

“What are the terms?” I asked. Augustine raised his eyebrows.

I counted off on my fingers. “You separated me from my family. You’re aware that my older sister and my brother-in-law are out of the country and are unable to advise me at the moment. It’s the middle of the night and I’m tired from expending magic. You’ve complimented me, you’ve mentioned the danger facing my House, and we are driving at barely fifty miles per hour. You have an offer for me. Let’s hear it.”

Augustine cleared his throat. “Good. Skipping ex- tended explanations and hand holding makes things easier.”

I waited.

“I offer a strategic alliance between House Montgomery and House Baylor. Occasionally, cases which are uniquely suited to the talents of your family cross my desk. I’d like you to handle them. In return, I offer generous financial compensation, access to MII’s resources within the scope of those particular investigations, and the benefits of an association with my House.”

He was offering protection and guaranteed income. More, he offered contacts and data. MII maintained an extensive network of informants and observers. Very little took place in Houston without Augustine knowing about it. He hoarded sensitive information, holding on to it until someone paid or threatened him. Access to that database was truly priceless.

Augustine was also a master at determining precisely what people needed most. It didn’t take a genius to recognize that our most urgent need was security.
I had to make a decision.

“House Baylor is flattered by your generosity. How- ever, at this time, we must regretfully decline.”

Augustine chewed on it for half a minute. “Why?”

“You have made a similar offer to Nevada three times. I’m aware that she declined, and I share her reasons for it.”

“Indulge me,” Augustine said.

“Very well. The real value of this partnership for us wouldn’t be in money.” Although we could certainly use it. “It would be in the connections and the elevated profile that comes from working with Prime clientele. A way for us to enter Prime society and forge relationships and alliances that would anchor our House.”

And of course, the database and access to MII surveillance agents, who were legendary. We both under-stood that, so there was no need to mention it.
I kept going. “I want to underscore that I fully understand the value of your offer. However, currently there is a massive power imbalance between House Montgomery and House Baylor. I have seen how MII operates. If we agree to your proposal, you’ll expect us to abide by your contract, which may require us to compromise our ethics. We’re a family business. All we have is our name and our reputation. We follow only three rules. First, once bought, we stay loyal to the client. Second, we try not to do anything illegal. And third, at the end of the day we have to be able to look our reflection in the eye. Those are the principles my father laid out for us, they are the rules my older sister followed, and I will follow them as well. If we form an alliance with House Montgomery, we’ll enter as equals, not as vassals or subcontractors, and we will adhere to our own norms of behavior.”

The silence stretched out between us.

Augustine opened his mouth. “We’re not equals.”

“Exactly. House Montgomery is a behemoth and we’re small and new. As you have said, we may or may not survive. But we must stand on our own. We worked very hard to move out of House Rogan’s shadow and I won’t trade that independence for an easy paycheck.”

Augustine’s face was impassive. “Thank you for your honesty.”

“There may be a time I’ll come to ask for your help,” I told him. “If I do that, I’ll be sure to bring information of equal or greater value.”

The Bentley turned onto our street.

“Then I’ll leave you with this piece of advice,” Augustine said. “It’s free. Do not become involved in the Etterson case. I know exactly what you’re up against, and the price I quoted her was a gift. Sometimes when you search the night, you’ll find monsters in the dark. You’re not ready.”

“I’ll keep it in mind,” I told him.

Hidden Legacy

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: August 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Ilona Andrews

“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.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

They have co-authored four NYT and USAT bestselling series, the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels, rustic fantasy of the Edge, paranormal romance of Hidden Legacy, and Innkeeper Chronicles, which they post as a free weekly serial. For complete list of their books, fun extras, and Innkeeper installments, please visit their website at Ilona-andrews.com.


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Review: Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 23, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweep of the Blade by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #4
Also in this series: Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2), One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3), Clean Sweep
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 315
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Maud Demille is a daughter of Innkeepers—a special group who provide ‘lodging’ to other-planetary visitors—so she knows that a simple life isn't in the cards. But even Maud could never have anticipated what Fate would throw at her.

Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her young daughter, Helen, were exiled with him for his treachery to the desolate, savage planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud—completely abandoned by his family—has spent over a year avenging his debts. Rescued by her sister Dina, she's sworn off all things vampire.

Except... In helping Dina save the world, she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr, one of the most powerful vampire houses. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined. Arland is not used to hearing the word ‘no;’ and try as she might, Maud can't just walk away from Arland. It doesn't help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.

To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is extremely influential and Maud knows that a woman—a human, with a very questionable past—who's turned down a proposal from its most beloved son won't get a warm reception. Maybe she’s not sure about marrying Arland, but House Krahr isn’t going to decide for her. Maud Demille has never run from a fight, and House Krahr will soon discover that there's a lot more to Maud than they’re expecting.

Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews is the 4th book in the InnKeeper Chronicles. Books 1-3 were told from Dina’s point-of-view, and were centered in her Inn, Gertrude Hunt, in Red Deer, Texas. This novel takes us into the Holy Anocracy, as Maud travels there to see if she can make a life for herself and Helen with Lord Arland, Marshall of House Krahr. I read this as a free serial on the author’s website, but this review is for the expanded, fully edited version. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the full release for months. This is my favorite of all Andrews’ series (maybe) and I adore Maud, Arland and Helen.

Maud DeMille, daughter of Innkeepers, has spent the past two years surviving on a hellish planet, paying a blood debt after her husband gets them all banished from his House and eventually ends up dead. As the human wife of a Vampire, she had to work hard to prove herself to House Ervan, and now that her husband is dead and her sister rescued her from Karhari, she isn’t keen to put her or her child back in with another House. But Arland, Lord Marshall of House Krahr, makes her feel things she never thought she’d feel again. So she’s back in the Holy Anocracy, trying to decide if she can earn a place in his clan, or if she’ll have to walk away from him forever.

…they pitched forward and conquered the final stair. “As I was saying,” Arland said, a sheen of sweat covering his face, “if I had to fight nine knights every week for the pleasure of you berating me, I would do it gladly.”

“You are an idiot. I abandoned my sister and a perfectly good inn and traveled halfway across the galaxy for an idiot.”

Arland’s devotion to Maud and Helen came across so well it was hard not to want Maud to fall right in with his plans for her to marry him. But I understood her hesitation completely. She’d been burned once and lost – literally – everything when her husband betrayed not only his House, but her and their daughter as well. Her need to take things slow and go cautiously with their future made perfect sense. I loved Helen in the previous books, and she was just as wonderful here. I also loved Maud’s devotion to her, and how well developed their relationship was.

“And he said I wasn’t good enough to be his enemy. And I said, ‘I’ll punch you so hard, you’ll swallow your teeth, worm.’”

Maud hid a groan. “Where did you hear that?”

“Lord Arland.” Oh goodie.

The political intrigue, evil vampire machinations and kickass fight scenes only amplified an already amazing story. The world-building is so detailed I honestly felt like I was right there on the planet with them. Watching Maud find her place with Arland amongst his clan was lovely. She’s so kickass, I can’t help but adore her.

“They did call me something on Karhari.”

“What was it?” “Maud the Sariv.”

“What does that mean?” Karat asked.

“On Karhari there is a summer wind that comes from the wastes. Nobody knows how it forms, but it comes out of nowhere and it picks up thorny spores from local weeds. When you inhale sariv’s breath, the spores enter your lungs and cut you from the inside. There is no escape from this storm. If you are caught in it without protective gear, it will kill you. They called me that because I paid the blood debt I owed to my husband’s killers.”

I also loved what an asset she was as Maven, and how we got to see Nuan Cee again. The way she was with the Tachi, and her knowledge of so much, was wonderful.

Vampire worldview, condensed into three sentences: If it’s not food or a pet, kill it, because it might be poisonous.

There’s quite a bit of humor, along with a whole heaping lot of fight scenes with just enough romance thrown in to keep my heart happy.

Overall, this was another stellar Innkeeper novel. I can only hope the authors continue the series. I want more!

“What I’m trying to say is, I see you. I would love you if you were a vampire or a human, because of who you are. You don’t need an inn or a broom to fascinate me. You only have to look my way and you’ll have all of my attention.”

Something fluttered in her chest. Something left over from before Karhari and her marriage.

She tilted her head and gave him a narrow smile. “What if I were a werewolf?”

He sucked in air, pretending to think it over. “I would love you still.”

Rating: 4 out of 5

Innkeeper Chronicles

four-stars


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What Are You Reading? (+ Ilona Andrews Giveaway)

Posted June 21, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 10 Comments

Casee: I am finally reading Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh. I have waited so long for this book. I really, really dislike books that end with a cliffhanger, which Archangel’s Prophecy did. I am loving Archangel’s War and can’t wait to finish it this weekend. I have no idea what I am going to start next. Possibly Natural Witch by K.F. Breene which is one of Holly’s Reading Challenge books for me. Or Lionheart by Thea Harrison. Or Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews.

I finished Getting Played by Emma Chase on audio yesterday. Andi Arndt and Zachary Webber are a spectacular duo. I heart them together. This book had everything I look for in an Emma Chase book. It gave me all the feels. I started listening to Hot Asset by Lauren Layne on the way home. This is one of Rowena’s Summer Reading Challenge books for Holly and I. I haven’t gotten far enough into it to know if I’ll love it or hate it.

Holly: I finished Getting Played by Emma Chase on audio, and the ARC of Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh. Both were everything I wanted them to be. I read Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey so I could discuss it with Rowena and Casee. I was not a fan. Then I read Superfan by Sarina Bowen. I enjoyed it, though not as much as some of the others in the series.

I’m currently reading Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan for our Summer Reading Challenge. I’m pretty early into it, so no thoughts yet. I’m listening to The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely. I think I’m about halfway through. So far, I’m enjoying it.

Rowena: This week was for finally finishing Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfree and I didn’t even like that book but then I jumped into The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. To say that I hated that book is putting it mildly. I freaking hated that book. I thought that if I kept reading, that the heroine would get better but nope. One thing after another pissed me off and when I finally finished it, I have never felt more free in my life. Dumbass book.

Now I’m reading Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs and Holly thinks I’m crazy because she knows that I’m going to be pissed while reading this one but I plan to read the next book directly after so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to push through both books without too much damage. Fingers crossed.

Giveaway Alert

We are very fortunate here at Book Binge. We have loads and loads of books to read and we want to share the wealth so each week, we’ll be tacking on a Freebie Friday giveaway to our What Are You Reading posts. This week, we’re giving away…

What Are You Reading? (+ Ilona Andrews Giveaway)Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Format: Print
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 391
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

What Are You Reading: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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