Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sapphire Flames by Ilona AndrewsSapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4, Catalina Baylor Trilogy #1
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

Can we just stop and reflect for a moment about how talented writing team Ilona Andrews is? They consistently have some of the most original, creative, and well-thought-out urban fantasy world building out there. They write strong, dark characters with complex motivations and emotional landscapes better than just about anyone. Their romances are shippy as hell. Sapphire Flames opens the Catalina arc of Hidden Legacy, and, damn but it’s good.

Going into this one, I was both stoked and slightly nervous. What Andrews has always done best is badass main characters, and Catalina’s somewhat of a departure from their typical heroine. She doesn’t have the physical strength so many of Andrews’ characters have, nor does she have a power that lends itself to combat. This means that, as she’s thrown into dangerous situations, she’ll have to find other methods to save herself or creative ways to apply her power. She does, and it’s awesome. Also, I really loved one spot in the book where the differences between her and Nevada’s strengths were discussed, because it highlights how many different ways there are to be strong.

The Catalina of Sapphire Flames differs pretty strongly from the Catalina we met in Diamond Fire. The socially awkward, deeply anxious girl thoroughly out of her depth has learned how to cope. She’s still afraid, obviously, but she’s gained skills to help her mask that and lead her house effectively. She has trained in fighting, so she’s a bit of a badass, but not enough of one to really engage in physical combat with most of the people she’d have to face in her line of work and expect to win. Most importantly, she’s learned how to put on confident airs that say that she belongs and other people should listen to her. She also seems to have practiced with her power a good deal more, and to be much less nervous about wielding it.

I also think that having Catalina as the heroine ups some of the tension. With Kate, you generally assume she’ll figure shit out and survive, but Catalina doesn’t have the same massive resources at her disposal. When she’s on her own without backup, it is STRESSFUL.

The change in Catalina a bit startling at first, but ultimately I liked seeing the shift in her. What’s key is that Andrews didn’t make her someone totally new. Since the book’s from her POV, we can see her paddling madly under the surface. The old Catalina really shows through whenever Alessandro shows up, which is shippy as all hell tbh. It’s also interesting to watch Catalina process what she has to do to survive. She’s learned how to move on instinct and do what she has to do, but when everything’s over handling what she’s done is a whole other level of work. (Andrews always make sure to handle this emotional fallout from everything, and it’s why their books are next level amazing.)

Speaking of Alessandro, he almost shouldn’t work as a love interest because he’s too perfect basically all the way across. He’s model handsome, magical, and a badass fighter. While he does have flaws, they’re hidden beneath his massive amounts of sexiness. However, as suave as he is, he literally cannot get Catalina to realize he’s actually interested and not messing with her. Plus, his handsome perfection just pisses her off (while also making her brain short circuit), which is shippy catnip. These two are adorably not on the same page at this point, and I totally shipppppp it. It’s also fun because their dynamic is so different from Kate/Curran, Nevada/Rogan, or Hugh/Elara. Way more playful and youthful.

Speaking of ships, Sapphire Flames also sets up some other romances on the side, and I am so into them omg. Especially the one completely out of left field for Catalina’s mom. I hope she gets a novella or something, but I’ll be happy even just watching it play out in the background. Bern’s ship is cute too, and I already love Runa so much. I’m glad that it seems like the Baylors are basically adopting Runa and her brother. THIS CREW.<3

The plot, as per usual from Ilona Andrews, rocks. There’s constant danger, plenty of mystery, and various creepy monsters to battle. I love the way Catalina’s story is tied tightly in with Nevada’s and how it’s clear that Andrews have had this all planned out. The best authors manage the individual book plots while also advancing a giant arc over the entire series, and they’re sooooo good at that.

While technically I think you COULD read this arc without reading Nevada’s because it recaps most of the salient points, you absolutely should read Nevada’s first. Andrews’ books build on each other, and after a couple the whole crew is so precious that you want to murder fictional characters to protect them. Do yourself a favor and read all of Hidden Legacy if you haven’t already. Also Kate Daniels while you’re at it.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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