Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Hidden Legacy World, #4

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

“He wants to see you. He says it’s an emergency. Hurry up before Mom shoots him.”

I'd been waiting for this book for....well, I won't count the actual month/year, as that'd be depressing and too much work. Let's just say awhile. Ilona Andrews gets the books out quickly enough considering, but still I was antsy to start Catalina's story.

Where to start? I'll dig into characters first. Catalina was always intriguing to me where her powers seemed ultra-powerful, she was a shy bookworm who hung in the background. A challenge of the authors was to make her stand as her own character and not seem too much like a Nevada duplicate. Mainly this worked, although there were some similarities.

One thing I dug so much with the previous trilogy was the investigative stages where Nevada interviews people, works with other characters who do their own thing, and go through various stages of discoveries. Catalina has taken on this role, and while there were investigations - families working together - and "scenes of discovery" - sometimes the investigative side seemed a bit weaker. Not fully sure why.

I like that she still enjoys cooking (the scene at the dinner table with Alessandro was fun), and overall she stands out enough on her own two feet, but I did get a surprise of how she got there. I figured each sister would get their story without being replaced too much. We learn later there were some big changes for Nevada off-page, which I found a little upsetting. Glad to see she's still the lead in some areas, and that she was four days away at the end of the book, so we may have some cameos of her and Rogan in the future.

Set three years later, a lot must have happened with Nevada and Rogan in the meantime. Catalina is older and a little less of the shy, sweet girl we've seen before since she's been training. Arabella is now 18ish as well but hardly around till the end of the book.

The mom gets another side option that's kind of sweet, the grandmother makes quirky jokes at certain times, Leon is still violent, Bern is still in the background as great support, Matilda is hardly around but sometimes spouts out endearing comments, and Cornelius is sadly missing other than one line and one glance. I had figured when reading sneak scenes that Runa would have a sidekick role with ample humor to grace the action scenes, but really she's not in the book THAT much considering she's the client. She works well when there though, and the situation is of course sad enough for them to risk their lives to help her.

Catalina’s powers came in handy sometimes, but on a few occasions they felt a bit weak. Alessandro has some nifty abilities that come in handy, and he’s definitely not matched my previous conception of him. I like how he plays different, practiced roles (some of these were amusing – especially all the Instagram references), but I haven’t yet hooked on him as much as I did Rogan. He is not a carbon copy. He seems more alone than anything, while Rogan was surrounded by his people, crew, and connections. He has a reputation in the town of sorts but didn’t seem wholly welcome other than a girl-crush.

Linus has a lot of scenes and it’s a bit odd because it delves into things that raise questions. People who have read the other books know some fan theories about who he really is, and this book doesn’t actually fit that, so not sure.

Mystery wise, it's solved relatively quickly and mainly it's filled with fighting scenes, tension, running, etc. I was surprised and a bit saddened about some of the changes with their location and house – change is hard, okay?

There’s a hot kiss scene but the steam is more on a simmer than a sizzle so far. Its’ clear that Alessandro is stepping in the mysterious role where Catalina doesn’t know his secrets and he’s hiding a lot from her by the end of this book.

While all of Ilona Andrew’s books are funny, this one paled a bit in that area. There was of course some humor, but nothing that made me laugh aloud. The funniest situations was probably because of their faulty security. Pizza deliveries and coffee runs :p

I missed Cornelius and the family unit feels more in the background since both sisters are missing most of the book. The romance takes a while to start since Alessandro, when he comes on page chapters later, is only there briefly for a while before showing up again. It’s clear he’s into her, but he holds himself back for personal goals, and Catalina is left understandably confused.

This is an opener book. The romance is just starting, the action is being set with larger subplots like the deal with the grandmother, Linus wrapping her in, a new evil and nefarious subplot to battle, Alessandro’s history not revealed, the mom’s new potential interests (good for her).

Now to wait for the next books. So much of the reader’s life is spent waiting. 🥴

Book Quotes

“Follow me,” Linus ordered. “And cheer up. We’re about to embark on a killing spree accompanied by massive property damage. Try to have fun.”

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