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AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Monday, January 16, 2017

UPDATE! Ben Aaronovitch: PETER GRANT/RIVERS OF LONDON SERIES

UPDATE!

I have just updated an ongoing post for Ben Aaronovitch's PETER GRANT/RIVERS OF LONDON SERIES by adding a review of The Hanging Tree, the sixth novel in the series (publication date 1/31/2017). 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

UPDATE! Rebecca Zanetti: SCORPIUS SYNDROME SERIES

UPDATE!

I have just updated an ongoing post for Rebecca Zanetti's SCORPIUS SYNDROME SERIES by adding a review of Justice Ascending, the third novel in the series (publication date 1/31/2017). 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

UPDATE! A. M. Dellamonica: HIDDEN SEA TALES TRILOGY

UPDATE!

I have just updated an ongoing post for A.M. Dellimonica's HIDDEN SEA TALES TRILOGY by adding a review of The Nature of a Pirate, the thirdand FINALnovel in the series. 

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

NEW NOVEL by Robert Charles Wilson: "Last Year"

Author: Robert Charles Wilson
Title: Last Year
Plot Type: Time Travel with a Twist
Ratings: Violence4; Sensuality3; Humor2   
Publisher: Tor (12/2016)

WORLD-BUILDING: 
     Let me begin with a metaphor: Imagine that you are holding a book with thousands of pages and that each page is actually an entire alternate world that encompasses every single day, year, and century along with every historical event that has occurred from the first day that world began, right up to the present time. The novel's protagonist uses a slightly different metaphor as he tries to explain the concept to a newcomer: "They say there is a whole sheaf of worlds, and that the City people have learned to travel from one to another. They live on one stalk in the sheaf and journey to nearby stalks. But for the traveler, all those stalks look like the past." The newcomer responds, "We are their past, but they do not necessarily represent our future. That's what the brochure says." Since there are so many worlds—all similar but not perfectly identical—each future is slightly different from the others.

     So...In the world portrayed in this novel, wealthy people from the 21st century can travel into a long-ago year within one of these pages/stalks/worlds, where they witness the actual events and personalities that they have read about in their high school history books. They can travel across the untrammeled wilderness, enjoy the quaint city life, and listen to lectures by long-dead scientists, politicians, and entertainers. Wilson's multiple-worlds mythology doesn't hold up to deep scrutiny, but it is fresh and inventive enough to provide a solid platform for this entertaining and suspenseful story. I suggest that you accept the details of the multi-worlds part of the mythology, but concentrate only on the specific time that you will be visiting: America in 1876, just eleven years after the end of the Civil War. 

     To break away from my book metaphor, these wealthy time travelers do not actually travel into the page of a book. They travel through the Mirror—a time-space portal that is situated deep underground on the central Illinois prairie where it serves as "the boundary between present and future." (Wilson's mirror portal calls to mind Alice in Wonderland's looking glass, which is also a portal to a different land.) As the travelers from the future arrive, the Mirror loses its solid state and allows them to walk through into a simpler, more primitive world. The travelers then go through a training program that attempts to get them to behave in a manner that will not alienate the 19th century locals (e.g., no cursing, no unwelcome touching of the locals, no smuggling or stealing). (Side note: Scattered throughout the discussions of the mirror are sentences like this: "The Mirror bridges a distance of approximately one hundred and forty-five eigenstate-years through ontological Hilbert space." These are all terms related to quantum mechanics, so if you want to wade nerd-deep in explanations, you can click on the pink-links in the previous sentence for more information. Personally, I just skipped over the "scientific" explanations and enjoyed the story.)


     The entrepreneur who put this project together is August Kemp, a wealthy financier who dresses in jeans and Hawaiian-print shirts like a Silicon Valley tech CEO. He markets his time travel visits to the City of Futurity (aka the City)—as he calls his twin-towered settlement—as a way for modern people to truly appreciate their heritage. The whole project is set up like a series of theme parks and resorts. His clients travel across the country on specially built trains and helicopters, so that they can look out at the unspoiled lands of 19th century America. But they are housed in a special, luxurious tower away from the locals—a tower filled with high-tech 21st century amenities. The City's second tower is much less extravagant because it houses the locals who staff the various shops, restaurants, and tour groups. Kemp also offers a series of gallery experiences for the 19th century citizens so that they can catch a glimpse of what's in their future.


     Kemp claims that his reasons for creating the City are altruistic—to educate both the travelers and the locals and to allow the locals a peek at their future. He sees himself as a philanthropic, Bill Gates type of person, but in actuality, he's more Trump-ian in his land grabs and profiteering. As one of Kemp's employees explains to a local, "Kemp tries to keep a strict wall of separation between our guys and your guys. Guests from the twenty-first century get a guided tour of 1876, and guests from 1876 get a sanitized glimpse of the twenty-first century. But they're not supposed to mix, except when Kemp arranges it. Policing the wall between them is how he makes his money." The bottom line is that Kemp is getting rich not only from the high fees paid by his clients, but also from the huge quantities of gold that he takes from 19th century mines and moves through the Mirror to the 21st century. Although many people see Kemp as a leader and a genius, others view him as a greedy opportunist. Kemp has many secrets, and the characters and events in this story relentlessly force those secrets into the open, with devastating results. Wilson has written a great tale that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.


     An interesting aspect to relations between the locals and the City people is that they are not always as smooth as Kemp would like them to be. For a number of reasons, the two groups view each other with great suspicion. The City folks see the locals as racist (because they treat Black people and Asians like serfs or slaves) and misogynistic (because they elevate men and belittle women). Meanwhile, the locals view the City people as blasphemous (because they curse a lot), obscene (because the women wear trousers), and race mixers (because they travel in racially and ethnically diverse groups). Not to mention the outrage that boils up when the locals learn some unbelievably shocking news about their future: that women will be able to vote, that a Black man will become the U.S President, that men will be able to marry men, and that women will be able to marry women. The 21st-century people are equally as shocked at the politically incorrect language used by the locals: for example, Chinamen, Orientals, the "N" word, gal-boys.


     Into this world, Wilson places a handful of fascinating characters with murky pasts. Then he puts them into situations that attempt to answer questions like these: If we could go back to 1876, would we be obligated to give the people our medical and technological knowledge, knowing that it would have major ripple effects on individuals and change the history of the world? Or should we leave that world as it is, even though people are dying of diseases we could cure and even though modern technology could vastly improve people's lives? What would happen if someone smuggled modern technological tools and weapons through the portal and distributed them to oppressed groups? If we know from our history books that a terrible event is due to happen in 1876, is it our responsibility to try to stop it? Or do we allow history to play itself out without interference? Wilson doesn't beat the reader over the head with these questions. He's too good a writer for that. But he insinuates these dilemmas into the plot as the locals and the City travelers play out their roles in this mesmerizing story. Here, the novel's protagonist explains why the displays and exhibits in the Tower's galleries were "eye-widening but vague on details.... Too much explicit information about the future would be disorienting; it might also be unfair. In the world [of 1876] men were laboring to invent a practical electric light, for instance, and the existence of the City of Futurity suggested that their labors weren't futile; but if the city handed out engineering details, the native inventor of such a light would be made instantly irrelevant; geniuses would die unhallowed and impoverished simply because the City had revealed too much too soon."

PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 

     Two events made September 1st a memorable day for Jesse Cullum. First, he lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Second, he saved the life of President Ulysses S. Grant. It's the near future, and the technology exists to open doorways into the past but not our past, not exactly. Each "past" is effectively an alternate world, identical to ours but only up to the date on which we access it. And a given "past" can only be reached once. After a passageway is open, it's the only road to that particular past; once closed, it can't be reopened. 

     A passageway has been opened to a version of late 19th century Illinois. It's been in operation for most of a decade, but it's no secret, on either side of time. A small city has grown up around it to entertain visitors from our time, and many locals earn a good living catering to them. But like all such operations, it has a shelf life; as the "natives" become more sophisticated, their version of the "past" grows less attractive as a destination. 

     Jesse Cullum is a native. And he knows the passageway will be closing soon. He's fallen in love with a woman from our time, and he means to follow her back—no matter whose secrets he has to expose in order to do it.

MY REVIEW: 
     The protagonist is Jesse Cullum, a drifter in his mid-twenties who grew up rough in a San Francisco brothel and was forced to leave town under mysterious circumstances. Jesse suffers from PTSD, but his nightmares are rooted not in wartime horrors, but in his dark and dangerous California past, which includes a traumatic incident involving his younger sister, Phoebe. Four years ago, as Jesse drifted across the plains of Illinois, he stumbled across Kemp's workers constructing two tall towers surrounded by a huge wall. Because Jesse is big, strong, and intelligent, they hired him as a security guard for the City travelers. First, though, they cured his syphilis and vaccinated him against all of the horrific diseases that flourished within the 19th century population. Now that Jesse is in his fourth year with the City, he's beginning to wonder what's next in his life because Kemp's Mirror will be open for just one more year. Kemp has always said that the City would remain in this time slot for just five years. Kemp believes that staying any longer would create a culture bleed that would adversely affect the people and alter historical events in dangerous and unpredictable ways.

     One day, Jesse gets a visitor—a 21st century woman named Elizabeth DePaul. Elizabeth is a former soldier and a single mother who works for Kemp. Her daughter, Gabbie, lives with Elizabeth's mother in North Carolina (in the 21st century), and her husband is in jail for drug trafficking. Elizabeth is definitely a modern woman, and her appearance in Tower 2 (the Tower to which the locals are confined within the City) is a shock because she studs her conversation with profanity, wears trousers, carries a gun (and other weapons), and has a take-charge attitude that is shocking and offensive to the locals (especially to the men). Elizabeth tells Jesse that because he saved President Ulysses S. Grant's life earlier in the day, the President wants to thank him personally. Then, he gets to meet August Kemp and is assigned to partner with Elizabeth on a series of missions. The initial problem they deal with is the mystery of the gun that the would-be assassin used in his attempt to take Grant's life. It was not a 19th century weapon; it was a 21st century Glock 19 that was somehow smuggled through the Mirror from the future. After Elizabeth and Jesse work together to solve this case, they are separated for a while—assigned to other missions. But by this time, they have made a personal connection that neither is willing to give up.

     As the story proceeds, we learn more and more details about the mysteries of Jesse's life and about the dark secrets held by August Kemp. Eventually, Kemp's enemies make life extremely dangerous for the City people, and as Jesse and Elizabeth carry out one last mission, they make some decisions that change their lives forever.

     Wilson includes frequent moments of wry humor as Elizabeth and Jesse go about their work. For example, when Jesse asks why he keeps being "pegged as a local, and your clerks all peer at me like I'm Lazarus come forth," Elizabeth tells him, "It's your beard...You look like a refugee from ZZ Top. You look like Zack Galifianakis auditioning for a Civil War comedy." At one point, Elizabeth complains about all of the vaccinations required of travelers, and Jesse politely—but sarcastically—responds"I apologize for our diseases We'd do without them if we could." Jesse is a master of understatement, as illustrated by this exchange with Elizabeth when they encounter the decaying carcass of a horse in an alley:
     "Oh God," Elizabeth said, covering her mouth.
     "Do animals never die where you come from?"
     "Of course they do. We try not to let them decay in public places."
     "That must make city life more pleasant," Jesse said.
And I laughed out loud when Elizabeth (who is a rather large woman) turns to Jesse and asks that age-old question:
     "Does this bustle make my ass look fat?"
     "No."
      She laughed. "It's a joke. Sorry."
     "Is it? I've seen those magazines tourists leave behind. Women as bony as tubercular mules."
     "Fashion models."
     "You're not like that."
     "Okay, yeah."
     "You're much more wholesome and...rounded."
     "Right, thank you. Sorry I mentioned it."

     Wilson is a master at seamlessly knitting the details of his characters' lives into the plot. Nearly all of them are interestingly original. With the exception of just a few who waver on the edge of stereotype, most of them come across as real people—through their straightforward language, their realistic actions, and their authentic emotions. Jesse is truly a fascinating character, and I soon found that I was grasping at every one of Wilson's hints about Jesse's past, trying to figure out what had gone so wrong in his life. Jesse is such a strong and noble man that he dominates the novel with his plainspoken conversation, his candid reactions to the wonders of the City, and the deep-seated guilt and fear that keep him from sleep. 

     I was surprised and disappointed to find so few reviews of this book on Amazon.com (although all were at the four- and five-star level) because this is a terrific novel that more readers should be enjoying. If you are looking for something fresh and inventive in the time-travel category with a host of quirky characters and a rich, unpredictable plot, this novel is for you.

     Click HERE to go to this novel's Amazon.com page to read or listen to an excerpt by clicking on the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

UPDATE! Nora Roberts: THE GUARDIANS TRILOGY

UPDATE!

I have just updated an ongoing post for Nora Roberts's THE GUARDIANS TRILOGY by adding a review of Island of Glass, the thirdand FINALnovel in the series.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Friday, December 23, 2016

UPDATE! Chloe Neill: CHICAGOLAND VAMPIRES SERIES

UPDATE!

I have just updated an ongoing post for Chloe Neill's CHICAGOLAND VAMPIRES SERIES by adding a review of "Phantom Kiss," (novella 12.5), which has a publication date of January 17, 2017.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the new review.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ilona Andrews: HIDDEN LEGACY TRILOGY

Author:  Ilona Andrews (Pseudonym for Ilona and Andrew Gordon)
Series:  HIDDEN LEGACY
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality3; Humor—2-3  
Publisher and Titles:  Avon
          Burn for Me (10/2014)
          White Hot (May/2017)
          Wildfire (July/2017)

I am a big fan of the writing of Ilona Andrews, but somehow, the first novel of this serieswritten back in 2014slipped through the cracks. When I discovered that the second and third novels are due to arrive in the next few months, I made it a point to read and review Burn for Me so that I would be ready for the new books. This ongoing post contains the following: an overview of the world-building, the publisher's blurb and my review of Burn for Me, and the publisher's blurbs for White Hot and Wildfire. I will be adding my reviews of the second and third novels as soon as they are published.

                         WORLD-BUILDING                          
The series has its roots in a short story called “Of Swine and Roses," which the authors wrote years ago. The heroine of that story is not the heroine of the HIDDEN LEGACY series, but she lives in that world—a world in which people have varying degrees of magic. Currently, this story is still free on-line, but you can also purchase it on Amazon for a nominal charge. Click HERE to read the story free. It provides a nice introduction to the mythology in the form of an entertaining short story.

The authors have created a HIDDEN LEGACY web site within their regular site, and I will be quoting from its pages as I describe the series world-building. At the end of this section, I will provide links to the various web pages.


      THE MYTHOLOGY      
 In 1863, in a world much like our own, European scientists discovered Osiris serum, a concoction that brought out one’s magic talents. These talents were many and varied. Some people gained the ability to command animals, some learned to sense water from miles away, and others suddenly realized they could kill their enemies by generating a burst of lightning between their hands. The serum spread throughout the world. Governments gave it to soldiers in hopes of making the military forces more deadly. At the same time, members of the fading aristocracy, desperate to hold on to power, obtained it, as did the rich, who desired to get richer.      

Eventually the world realized the consequences of awakening godlike powers in ordinary people. The serum was locked away, but it was too late. The magic talents passed on from parents to their children and changed the course of human history forever. The future of entire nations changed in the span of a few short decades. Those who previously married for status, money, and power now married for magic, because strong magic would give them everything.  Now, a century and a half later, families with strong hereditary magic have evolved into dynasties. These families—Houses, as they call themselves—own corporations, have their own territories within the cities, and influence politics. They employ private armies, they feud with each other, and their disputes are deadly. It is a world where the more magic you have, the more powerful, the wealthier, and the more prominent you are. Some magic talents are destructive. Some are subtle. But no magic user should be taken lightly. 

      RANKING OF MAGIC USERS      
Magic users are segregated into five ranks: Minor, Average, Notable, Significant, and Prime. The difference between Minor and Prime is enormous. For example, a pyrokinetic is considered Average if he can melt a cubic foot of ice under a minute. In the same amount of time, Adam Pierce, a pyrokinetic Prime featured in the first novel, can conjure a fire that will melt a cubic foot of stainless steel. 

      HOUSES      
A family with powerful magic abilities is considered a House when it produces at least two Primes within three generations. Houses are small economic empires: they control territories within cities; they hire private muscle, and engage in cut-throat business tactics. Houses frequently feud with each other and mutual attacks between rival Houses are not uncommon. Most of the time the civilian law enforcement stays out of the inter-House conflicts as long as ordinary citizens are not endangered in any way. Houses also have their own ruling body, an Assembly, and although the Assembly has no official status within United States government, when it speaks, its voice is heard by all branches of government.

      THE THREE TYPES OF MAGIC      
Elemental Magic:
Elemental magic users command forces of nature. Some can bend water to their will. Some are able to mold soil, and others can conjure fire or create an electric current. Elemental mages can cause a great deal of damage. Most work in manufacturing. The greatest elemental Houses tend to run industrial and construction corporations. Here are some examples of elemental magic: 
   > Pyrokinesis—mastery over fire (A sociopathic pyrokinetic Prime is at the heart of the first novel.) 
   Aquakinesis—mastery over water
   Geokinesis—mastery over earth
   Aerokinesis—mastery over air
   Fulgurkinesis—mastery over lightning

Mental Magic:
Magic of the mind would be best described as magic of the will. This category includes a slew of powers that rely on the will of the user. The mental talents are many and varied, from telekinesis, which can be used to a devastating effect, to harmonizing, which enables the mage to make beautiful flower arrangements. Here are some examples of mental magic:
   Telekinesis—the ability to move objects with your mind (The series hero is a telekinetic prime.)
   Projection—the ability to transmit images and feelings to the minds of others
   Therionology—the ability to command animals. Practitioners are usually known as animal mages. Rare.
   Harmonizing—the ability to arrange one’s environment to invoke a specific feeling or mood
   Elenchus—the ability to distinguish lies from truth, also known as truthseeking. Extremely rare. (The series heroine is a truthseeker.)

Arcane Magic:
The word “arcane” means known or understood by very few. True to definition, even those who are born with these magic powers poorly understand the arcane branch of magic talents. Power of arcane magic users comes from reaching into the arcane realm, a place of magic outside of our typical reality. Their talents are frequently disturbing. Here are some examples of arcane magic: 
   Enerkinesis—mastery over magic energy
   Animating—the ability to impart life to inanimate objects
   Binding—the ability to fuse or bind something found in the arcane realm to a human host with the purpose of giving the host new magic powers
   Summoning—the ability to cause manifestation of creatures 

      MAIN CHARACTERS      
The Baylor family runs the Baylor Investigative Agency, and they always try to follow three rules: "Once a client hired us, we were loyal to the client...We didn't break the law...And...the most important of all: At the end of the day we still had to be able to look our reflections in the eye." The family lives and works in a former warehouse in Houston, Texas, that they have retrofitted with offices, a living area, and a large garage area where Grandma works on various military vehicles.

 > Nevada Baylor: the 25-year-old series heroine. She is a licensed private investigator, and since her father died, she basically runs the business. Nevada is a truthseeker (the third rarest magical talent) who has no idea that she has tremendous untapped powers. She has always kept her talent hidden because most truthseekers are snapped up by the government and turned into human lie detectors.

 > Grandma Frida: She is a mech-mage who has a magical connection to armored things that move. "It didn't matter if they rolled, crawled, or floated. She lived and breathed the deep-voiced rumble of their engines and the smoky odor of their guns."

 > Penelope Baylor: She is a military veteran—an expert sniper—who still walks with a limp from a severe war injury. Her expertise with a rifle comes from her magical talent.

 > Nevada's teen-age sisters: Catalina (age 17) and Arabella (age 15)

 > Nevada's cousins: Bern (age 19) and Leon (15)

     Click HERE to go to the home page of the authors' HIDDEN LEGACY web site where you can then click on links to the following topics: Main Characters, Magic Ranks and Houses, Types of Magic, Magic Circle Archive, and FAQs

                         NOVEL 1:  Burn for Me                          
PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 
     New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand-new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire. 

     Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn't sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire. 

     Then she's kidnapped by Connor "Mad" Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

     Rogan's after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she's getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

MY REVIEW:  
    As is usual in the first novel of a series, the authors introduce us to the series mythology, placing their characters in a magic-riddled world in which the Houses have basically boundless powers over their own lives and the lives of those who have less—or no—magical power. 

     The action plot revolves around a pyrokinetic Prime named Adam Pierce, who is the black-sheep son of a powerful House. For years, he has been estranged from his family, declaring himself a radical and spending his time getting into trouble. His doting mother spends much of her time and money doling out compensation to pay off the families of the people Adam maims or kills with his fire. Adam's latest crime is huge: He and another magic user blew up a bank, killing a security guard and severely burning three others. Now, he is in hiding, and his family wants him brought in before the police shoot him down. 

     Unfortunately for Nevada, the family company is mortgaged to House Montgomery, which runs Montgomery International Investigations. Nevada knows that trouble lies ahead when she gets called into Augustine Montgomery's office. Augustine explains to her that she will be hunting down Adam Pierce and returning him to his family, and if she refuses, he will call in their loan. That would mean that they would lose the warehouse, their electronic equipment, their cars, and their company name—basically everything but the clothes on their backs. Nevada realizes what Augustine is doing: He is trying to appease the Pierce family by sending a competent, but expendable, investigative team after Adam, knowing that Nevada has little or no chance of succeeding because her magic pales in comparison to Adam's fiery power. Augustine is pretty sure that Nevada will die in her attempt to capture Adam, but, he has no qualms about using her to get himself out of a sticky situation with the Pierce family.

     This story line forms the main plot, providing all of the action and leading into the romance plot. The man who soon takes the lead in the romance story line is Connor Rogan (aka Mad Rogan, the Butcher, the Scourge), a seemingly heartless, extremely powerful telekinetic Prime who is able to move/destroy huge buildings with just a thought. In addition to his telekinesis, Rogan is a tactile, which means that he can make a person feel physically touched with just a thought—which turns out to be a very sexy skill when he uses it to seduce Nevada. Rogan spent time in the military during a recent war, where he built his reputation to the point that everyone fears him and his powers. Now, he leads a very private life, surrounded by his personal army of magic users who are military veterans he has rescued them from post-war lives in which they were treated badly by both the government and the private sector (not unlike the treatment that real-life vets suffer through in our own world). Rogan earns their complete loyalty by giving them well-paying jobs, health care benefits, fair treatment, and respect. Rogan gets involved in finding Adam Pierce because Adam's accomplice, Gavin Waller, is his cousin's son. Gavin's mother, Kelly, begs Rogan to find him, and—quite unexpectedly—Mad Rogan agrees to help.

    As the plot begins to unwind, Nevada starts searching for Adam. When she finds him, he refuses to surrender, but he becomes infatuated with her because she turns down all his efforts to charm her—one of the very few women on whom his sexy persona has failed to work. After their first meeting, Adam jumps in and out of Nevada's life, nearly always putting her and her family in danger. Nevada knows that Adam is working for someone who has mapped out the destruction that he is wreaking, but she has no idea who it is. 

     Then, Mad Rogan gets involved. He discovers that Nevada is involved with Adam, so he kidnaps her, chains her to his basement floor, and tries to force her to give him all the information she has about Adam. Both of them are astonished when Nevada is able to summon enough magic to resist Rogan's interrogation. Like Adam, Mad Rogan is fascinated with and attracted to Nevada's beauty, intelligence, and stubbornness, something that has never happened to him before. After the kidnapping, Nevada is so afraid of Rogan that she has a magical implant inserted in her body to protect herself against his powers. But soon, the two grudgingly form a shaky partnership and begin to work together to track down Adam, who leads them on a violent, fiery trail of death and destruction. Eventually, the inventive twists and turns of the plot take Nevada and Rogan on a desperate search for a magical artifact that has a connection to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. (In this world, contrary to legend, it wasn't Mrs. O'Leary's cow that started that disastrous fire—it was pyrokinetic magic.)

     Here's how Nevada summarizes her situation about a quarter of the way into the book: "Let's see, I had blackmailed a mechanic; called my employer, who was probably a Prime a terrible person—again; met with a pyrokinetic Prime and gotten kidnapped by a telekinetic Prime; gotten into a fight with my mother; and made the decision to have a weapon that could possibly kill me implanted in my arms...Too many Primes all around."

     This is a great start to a promising series. The authors have created a fresh and inventive world led by two fascinating characters. Nevada is (most of the time) a strong, courageous, independent woman, sure of her investigative abilities and willing to experiment with her newly blossoming magical powers. Unfortunately, the authors have bought into the trope of lust at first sight, particularly for Nevada, which means that whenever she is in Rogan's company, her brain melts into a puddle of lust that interferes with her ability to think straight. Of course, Rogan is also falling for Nevada, but he has much more control over his lusty emotions. Still, the romance is filled with unresolved sexual tension (UST) from the moment they meet. By the end of the book, the two have exchanged a few kisses and Rogan has made his feelings clear, but their romantic situation is still to be resolved—if that is even possible.

     The most entertaining characters in the novel are the members of Nevada's family, particularly Grandma Frida, who is happiest when she is covered in axle grease while working on the underside of an armored car. The two cousins are computer geniuses (due to their magical talents), and they form an interesting supportive team for Nevada. We haven't heard the entire sad story about Penelope and her tragic wartime experiences, but I'm sure that we'll hear more in the upcoming books. Nevada tells the story in her straightforward first-person voice, and her narrative includes lots of snarky, humorous dialogue, both with her family and with Mad Rogan.

     This is a great book, one that I could not put down until I read it from cover to cover. The second book is due in January, and I can't wait to read it. Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from Burn for Me on the novel's Amazon.com page where you can click on the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio.

                         NOVEL 2:  White Hot                          
PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 
   Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

     Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice.

     Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from White Hot on the novel's Amazon.com page where you can click on the cover art for print or the "Listen" icon for audio.

                         NOVEL 3:  Wildfire                          
PUBLISHER'S BLURB: 
     From Ilona Andrews, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond event their imagination.

   Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

     Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke.