Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, romantic suspense, urban fantasy
Series: Hidden Legacy #6
Published by Avon Books on August 23, 2022
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews is back with the newest book in the exciting Hidden Legacy series—the thrilling conclusion to her trilogy featuring fierce and beautiful Prime magic user Catalina Baylor.
An escaped spider, the unexpected arrival of an Imperial Russian Prince, the senseless assassination of a powerful figure, a shocking attack on the supposedly invincible Warden of Texas, Catalina’s boss... And it’s only Monday.
Within hours, the fate of Houston—not to mention the House of Baylor—now rests on Catalina, who will have to harness her powers as never before. But even with her fellow Prime and fiancé Alessandro Sagredo by her side, she may not be able to expose who’s responsible before all hell really breaks loose.
It is – much too nearly – the end of the world as the extended Baylor family knows it – entirely too many times. And they do not feel fine at all. But things will get better. Or they will die trying. Or both.
All too often it looks like both are barreling through the front door AND the back.
Ruby Fever is the sixth book in the awesome, urban fantasy/paranormal romantic suspense Hidden Legacy series that started with Burn for Me. As part of that series, it’s also the third and final book in the second trilogy, Catalina’s trilogy, that began with the interstitial novella Diamond Fire.
As the series chronicles the romantic and other adventures and misadventures of the Primes of House Baylor, there is hopefully another trilogy on the way featuring the youngest Baylor sister, Arabella.
That’s a long way of saying for pity’s sake don’t start here. There’s a whole lot of drama, worldbuilding and family manipulation with the best and worst motives packed into the story so far and it won’t make much sense without starting at one of the entry points, either Burn for Me or Diamond Fire.
Speaking of burning and fires, it feels like Ruby Fever opens in a fire fight. Not exactly, but pretty damn close. Because it’s not just a battle, House Baylor is at war with a rogue Russian Prime on one hand – and quite possibly the Russian Imperial House on the other.
And that’s where all the worldbuilding starts coming in.
The Hidden Legacy series takes place in an alternate version of the 21st century. One where, sometime in the 19th century, a mad Victorian chemist invented a serum that was intended to create supersoldiers.
And it sorta/kinda did. BUUUUT, as so often happens with mad scientists, things did not exactly go according to plan. Those superpowers turned out to be hereditary, and the resulting superpowered families had no loyalty to anyone but themselves and their families.
Over the intervening centuries, those superpowered families, now called Houses, pretty much came to control the world and are outside of any law except their own. It’s a dog-eat-dog, power corrupts absolutely kind of world. But there are rules that govern behavior – even bad behavior like outright warfare – between the Houses.
And the highest crime among the Houses – the one that is so verboten that no one even talks about it, is the theft of the superserum formula and any serum developed from it.
So of course that’s the war that House Baylor and their allies are right in the middle of. The question is whether they can manage to get out.
Escape Rating B: The premise of the Hidden Legacy series might sound a bit familiar. The world of the Arcane Society and its spinoffs (by Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle) has the same origin story. A Victorian era mad scientist develops a serum that gives some people super powers. What makes the series so different from one another is what happens after that.
The Arcane Society remained in the shadows. They are powerful but that power seldom manifests – or is allowed to manifest – as political power. (At least not until their descendants take to the stars in the Harmony series.)
In the Hidden Legacy version, the Primes take control of the world. No one can stop them except themselves and they rule everything. Not precisely in a political sense as it relates to mundanes, but the world is absolutely their oyster and they operate above any law but their own.
The result is not surprising but it is fascinating. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The only way to oppose such an absolute power is to have absolute power of one’s own. Which is pretty much what happens in Ruby Fever.
Or to put it another way, this entry in the series is about a lot of rich and powerful people behaving very, very badly – and being called to account for it by the only means possible. Bigger brains and superior firepower.
Howsomever, Ruby Fever is the culmination of pretty much everything that has happened in all the previous books in this series. Which does mean that a new reader can’t start here. But even for an long-time reader, it means that the pace of this story is absolutely relentless and quite frequently fairly grim – as there’s just so damn much to resolve in order to get all the open plot threads wrapped up.
A lot happens, a lot happens very fast, and if the last time you read the previous book in this series was when it came out back in 2020 (remember 2020, the year from hell?) it takes more than a bit to get oneself stuck back into this world.
At least for me, it felt like the constant barrage of serious shit going down and being blasted by the fan all over the Baylors went past being too much and into absolutely brutal. I think I’d have gotten the point with just a bit less of shit everywhere all the time or perhaps a bit more of something a bit lighter, like the escaped superpowered spider.
It does all come together, and once it finally does it’s a fantastic roller-coaster ride until the end. But getting there was kind of a rough ride.
If this turns out to be the last book in the series, it does wrap up everything – some of it in a bow, some of it in a shroud, but wrapped all the same. There is an opening left for Arabella’s story, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that at all. But if we don’t get it, we have plenty of closure for what has been a compelling series from the very first page.