Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona AndrewsEmerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5) by Ilona Andrews
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss, supplied by publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, science fiction romance, urban fantasy
Series: Hidden Legacy #5
Pages: 391
Published by Avon on August 25, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 
The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart. 

My Review:

If the Big, Bad Wolf went hunting for Catalina Baylor’s grandmother, he’d be the one eaten – because she is definitely the bigger, badder predator. Catalina wouldn’t have to marvel at what big teeth her grandmother had, because she already knows and is appropriately wary every single time she even thinks in Victoria Tremaine’s general direction. Someday she will need to test herself against her completely amoral and totally formidable grandmother, but that day is not yet. But it’s definitely coming by the end of this entry in the series.

Emerald Blaze is the second book in the second trilogy in the Hidden Legacy series. So don’t start here. Start with Burn for Me in order to get fully up to speed with this world and totally invested in these characters.

Because the world that has been created in this series is utterly fascinating.

The world of Hidden Legacy is a not too distant future of this world, but a future in which science run amuck has led to magic running even amucker – which really needs to be a word. In the search for a super-soldier, science created the Osiris serum. The serum granted superpowers, its distribution was not regulated, and absolute power always corrupts absolutely. The super-beings that survived the serum’s 50% mortality rate fought for control of what was left of the world after their superpower-fueled rampages.

The story in Hidden Legacy wraps around their descendants. The effects of that serum altered their DNA, and the alterations bred true. A century later, the Houses led by Prime talents quite literally rule the world.

The “hidden legacy” that the series title refers to also loops back to Victoria Tremaine, the baddest grandmother to ever rule a house – not that Frida, Catalina’s other grandmother isn’t fairly badass on her own. Frida’s just badass on a somewhat more human scale.

In the first trilogy, the Baylor sisters, Nevada, Catalina and Arabella, discover that the grandmother they never knew about is the most hated and feared mind talent to ever walk the face of the earth and make it tremble in fear. And that Victoria Tremaine’s legacy requires them to form a fledgling House to prevent her machinations from either dragging them under or chain them to her side forever.

The first trilogy focused on Nevada, the oldest sister, and her romance with head of one of the other powerful houses, her formation of House Baylor and, in the end, her handing the reins of her own house over to her sister Catalina to marry Connor Rogan.

The second trilogy is Catalina’s story. In Sapphire Flames we saw Catalina forced to take the reins of a House about to come out from under the protection that follows formation. Catalina was 21 and just not ready for the series of crises that barrels towards her at breakneck speed.

She’s also not ready to fall in love with the playboy assassin Alessandro Sagredo. But she saves her House, falls in love, and gets her heart thoroughly broken by a man who can’t make himself give up revenge in order to have a real life.

In Emerald Blaze, trouble comes for Catalina and House Baylor yet again. And so does her assassin. But this time she might get to keep him.

The odds on that are about as good as their odds on surviving. In other words, terrible but worth striving towards – no matter what it takes. Or what it takes out of them.

Escape Rating A: This was a “read in a day” book. I started at lunch and while I’d like to say I finished at dinner, the fact is that I was so engrossed in the story that I skipped dinner and just kept reading. It was THAT good.

The world in this series is a tasty stew of urban fantasy, science fiction and paranormal romance. Because magic, and super-soldiers. But science created the magic AND the super-soldiers. While the traditional monsters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance don’t seem to have been accidentally created in this world – no vampires or werewolves – there are certainly PLENTY of monsters.

Some of them even walk on two legs and make a pretense of being human. And some of those make real monster-y monsters. Like the weird hybrid plant/animal/human/super-soldier Abyss that has taken over the Pit that has taken over Jersey Village Texas. (Jersey Village really exists. I have friends who live in Houston who might even recognize it under the slime the monster has coated the place with!)

As is usual with this series, there are three threads to the plot that braid into something utterly absorbing from beginning to end.

The first thread is the mess. Actually so are the second and third threads – just different types of messes.

Catalina first has to solve the problem in the Jersey Village Pit. Five Houses got together to reclaim the swamp, and now one of the representatives is dead and his father wants revenge. It’s Catalina’s job – literally – to figure out which of the four survivors is responsible for the murder. It’s Alessandro Sagredo’s job to end whichever of those survivors is the guilty party. Which means that Catalina has to find a way to work with Alessandro without killing him and without letting her heart take anymore of a beating than it already has. If she can.

And then there’s Alessandro’s own side of this mess. He’s involved because his hunt for the man who murdered his father has led him back to Houston, to Catalina, and to this case.

Underneath all of that, like the Abyss monster hiding below the swamp, is a case of stolen Osiris serum, Alessandro’s really screwed up family, and Victoria Tremaine. Not necessarily together – at least not as far as we yet know – but not exactly separate, either.

Because power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there is something rotten and corrupt at the heart of the world that the Houses have created. Something that Catalina, Alessandro, House Baylor and House Rogan are stuck in the center of.

This series is not over – thank goodness! There will be one more book from Catalina’s point of view, and I’m terribly curious to see where it goes. As Catalina has more or less figured out where her heart has already bestowed itself by the end of this one, the next book will probably feature a threat to that relationship and further exposure of the rot at the heart of the world. Most likely with grandmother Tremaine spinning her spider webs at the center of it all.

Whatever it will be, I can’t wait to read it!

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