Emerald Blaze: One handsome Italian assassin to go, please

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEmerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEmerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

The violence between Houston’s powerful magical families breaks out again when Felix Morton is mysteriously murdered. Felix was involved in a private contract project involving an alliance between five magical Houses who are attempting to reclaim the Jersey Village suburb of Houston, which has become a pit for wild arcane magical creatures. If the reclamation succeeds, the land is worth a fortune, but Felix’s murder at the site puts a definite damper on the project.

Catalina Baylor — still recuperating from her broken heart when Alessandro Sagredo abruptly left her at the end of Sapphire Flames, six months ago — is told by her boss Linus Duncan to take over the investigation into Felix Morton’s death. The primary suspects are the four Prime magic users who were Felix’s business partners in the reclamation project. Difficult enough for Catalina, but she’s stunned to find out that Felix’s father has hired Alessandro to take Felix’s place on the project … and, though the other Primes don’t know it, Alessandro has also been hired to take down and kill whoever murdered Felix.

Catalina wants to keep her heart walled off from Alessandro so he can’t hurt her again. Alessandro is determined to protect Catalina from a Russian assassin called Arkan who, Alessandro says, is targeting Catalina in order to disrupt Linus’s ongoing investigation into the theft of several vials of the Osiris serum, which can confer strong magical powers on — or kill — the person who takes it. As Catalina and others in her family are attacked in various ways, it’s not clear who’s behind it: Arkan, Felix’s unknown murderer, or someone (or something) else?

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsEmerald Blaze is loads of fun, a fast-paced urban fantasy with a compelling romantic subplot, guaranteed to please Ilona Andrews fans. The Baylor clan, from Grandma Frida down to Catalina’s younger sister Arabella (who is clearly waiting for her chance to take the spotlight in a later book), is as wild and lovable as ever. As usual with Andrews novels, there’s plenty of witty dialogue and humor along with the danger, magic and romance.

The mystery is an intriguing one. Alessandro has his own reasons for wanting to get involved in the case, and it’s not just an excuse to get close to Catalina again. Catalina has become a stronger woman, and she’s not willing to immediately trust Alessandro. But Alessandro’s been through some rough experiences in the past six months that have changed him as well, and led him to adjust his priorities. It need hardly be said that the romantic tension gets ratcheted way up here.

The other big selling point for me in Emerald Blaze is the disclosure of several facts that shed a whole new light on some key events in past books. Among them: why did Catalina’s sister Nevada abruptly resign as head of Baylor House a few years earlier, leaving the rest of the family in the lurch? It seemed out of character at the time. Catalina’s relationship with their other grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, and Victoria’s role in the Baylors’ lives, also are revealed to be more complex than readers may have guessed. Either the Andrews team was plotting some things out far in advance or the authors are engaging in a little retconning, but in either case it’s adding depth and believability to the series, so I’m completely on board with it. On the other hand, Linus Duncan’s role in the series has taken a sharp turn from where it appeared to be headed at the end of the third book, Wildfire. I’m confused about his underlying motives at this point, but I trust the final answer will be good.

Emerald Blaze is a strong entry in the HIDDEN LEGACY series. It’s got a somewhat different vibe than the KATE DANIELS series, but overall I’ve enjoyed this one just as much.

Published in August 2020. Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, continues her spellbinding series set in the Hidden Legacy world where magic controls everything…except the hearts of those who wield it. 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. 

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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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2 comments

  1. Tadiana, your review’s opening paragraph is one of the best ever!

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