Diamond Fire: Wedding-related trials for the sister of the bride

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Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews fantasy book reviewsDiamond Fire by Ilona Andrews fantasy book reviewsDiamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Nevada Baylor is getting married to Connor Rogan, and when Rogan’s mother Arrosa shuts down their plans for a small and simple wedding, insisting on a full-scale formal wedding, a couple of things happen. Nevada inexplicably gets incredibly fussy and controlling about the wedding details, firing two wedding planners, and her beleaguered 18 and 16 year old sisters Catalina and Arabella decide that the only feasible option is to handle the wedding planning themselves. And a large crowd of Rogan’s Spanish relatives on his mother’s side descends on Mrs. Rogan’s Texas mansion for a few weeks’ stay before the wedding. The half of those relatives who descend from her father’s second wife are already hostile, and matters only get worse when everyone is cooped up together in the same home, however large and luxurious.

Now the Rogan family’s valuable heirloom wedding tiara has disappeared from the vault, a kokoshnik (Russian crown) with a large heart-shaped aquamarine as its centerpiece. An embedded sensor indicates that the Sealight Crown is still on the Rogan mansion’s premises. Arrosa Rogan, not wanting to involve the police in a family problem (since it’s almost certain that a relative stole it from their vault using telekinetic powers), asks Catalina to find the Sealight Crown and, by the way, get it back before the wedding in two weeks. But that’s only the beginning of the family problems that Catalina gets hit with before the wedding!

Diamond Fire (2018) is an interim novella in Ilona Andrews’ HIDDEN LEGACY urban fantasy series, set in an alternative history of our world in which some families ― typically wealthy and powerful ones ― have inheritable magical powers. The Baylor clan is neither wealthy nor politically powerful, but does have several family members with powerful magic. The first three novels in this series, beginning with Burn for Me, featured Nevada Baylor as the main character. Diamond Fire marks a turning point, as the focus of the series now shifts to Nevada’s younger sister Catalina.

Catalina has “siren” powers, the ability to make people immediately adore her and do whatever she asks, but it’s resulted in Catalina being shy and unwilling to trust that people really like her for herself, not just because of her magic. The case of the stolen Sealight Crown forces Catalina to begin breaking out of her shell and to experiment with her magical talent, finding interesting new ways to use it in her investigations.

Andrews provides a handy Rogan family tree at the beginning of Diamond Fire; it’s worth studying. Trust me on this. There are a lot of underhanded dealings and resentments brewing in Mrs. Rogan’s mother’s side of the family, and it devolves into a near-farcical soap opera in the end, with the disclosure of several embarrassing secrets. The plot of Diamond Fire, though it never bored me, isn’t one of the more memorable or creative ones that Andrews has come up with, and contains no romance and limited use of magic to spice it up. The storytelling probably also was hampered somewhat by the novella length of Diamond Fire, especially given the large number of new and unfamiliar characters in its pages. The story seems quite tame after the pyrotechnics of the first three books in the HIDDEN LEGACY series.

I enjoyed getting to know Catalina better, a talented young woman who’s unusually withdrawn and uncertain for an Andrews heroine. Wedding planning and jewelry theft investigation are a rather unlikely and hefty responsibility to dump on the eighteen-year-old sister of the bride, but Catalina rises to the occasion, and makes a new and useful friend in Mrs. Rogan in the process.

Diamond Fire is for readers who are already invested in the HIDDEN LEGACY series. It’s a somewhat slight novella, but it has several good scenes and interactions (a quirky poison mage is a scene stealer!) and achieves the task of shifting focus to a new main character to carry the series forward. At just a $1.99 ebook cost, it’s definitely worth the price for fans of this series. I’m anxious to read the next Catalina book!

Published in November 2018. 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.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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4 comments

  1. Catalina sounds fun!

    • Jonathan /

      Catalina is great. She’s also in desperate need of a hug (and not the kind that her sister and grandmother thing she should get. :D) Of the three Baylor sisters, Catalina wins the prizes for “scariest magic” and “suckiest magic”.

      I’m really looking forward to watching Catalina get a chance to spread her wings and earn her Happily Ever After.

    • Catalina is a great character and I really am looking forward to reading more books from her point of view. Her reluctance to have any friendship AT ALL with a particular handsome young Italian count is a bit eye-rolling, but it does set us up for what I’m sure will be some interesting romance times ahead.

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