Burn for Me, by Ilona Andrews. Urban Fantasy. Paperback, 382 pages. First in the Hidden Legacy series. giveawaybox.
The Andrews team is back from Magic Breaks with their first book in a new series. Written with the same flair for characterization and dialog as the Kate Daniels series, this new series sets up hereditary magic clans as the financial (and possibly political) powers around the world, and the rest of the population as normal support staff. Our heroine is the oldest of the youngest generation running a family-based private investigation business which usually does cases like divorce or insurance fraud. This time, Nevada Baylor is hired to find a powerful rogue mage and return him alive to his family.
Burn for Me is the opening book of a new series that is rightly filed under "paranormal romance." The kissing scenes are full of heat and passion and erotic confusion, just like they should. Unfortunately, it's the context of that passion that is... ok, no holding back: pissing me off.
The heroine, Nevada, defines the "hero" (Mad Rogan) as a psychopath, though I might call him a sociopath. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and entirely without moral compunction. He is built up as a killer, a manipulator, and insane to boot. He has enough power to throw buildings down, and enough control to levitate and shave a chopstick. He uses his money to build his own domestic surveillance and protection operation through absolute loyalty of talented people.
About a third of the way into the book, Rogan kidnaps and tortures Nevada, causing her enough pain and mental anguish that she has a magical Taser implanted in her arms (which screaming hurts, by the way). Sure, it was a mistaken impression on his part that she was working for the enemy, so sorry, thanks for your time. Once that is straightened out, they agree to work together to catch the real bad guy.
The Andrews writing team builds a good conflict between Nevada - morally straight and dedicated to her family - and Rogan. There are a lot of conversations about how Nevada has problems with Rogan's attitude and approach while they work together to save Houston from a rampaging pyrokenetic. Rogan challenges Nevada's point of view on many of those moral stances, and so we learn even more about Nevada's history and civic evolution.
The problem is that Andrews added a sexual attraction to the partnership, and corrupted this conflict of morality and approach with an entirely unnecessary conflict of willpower over sexual desire. They've taken the Kate Daniels fight with Curran Lennart to a whole new level, and cut any playfulness or equality out of it.
Nevada sees Rogan kill, torture, and destroy swaths of Houston. She suffers at his hands to the point of becoming a human Taser and using that power on him
. And she still can't keep her hands off of him?
I hate to think that the Andrews team is so disconnected from current social trends and conversations as this, but here it is in print. Nevada - even suffering from the throes of mighty passionate kissing - turns Rogan down. Repeatedly. Once with a Taser. So now, in black and white at the end of the book, Nevada is a prize to be won. And I quote: "... [saving his city] was his first goal. As to his second... He wanted Nevada Baylor. He wanted her more than he had wanted anyone in a long, long time, and he would get her. She just didn't know it yet."
The idea that "getting" a woman is an acceptable personal goal is no longer ok to me. The idea that women are prizes to be won
by overwhelming power, manipulation, and shallow efforts of finance is not only out of date, it's offensive. This book is at least a decade too late in its social reflection, and a painful corruption of what could have been another set of strong and conflicting characters.
And I'm not pleased.
I published this review on Amazon at the same time as I wrote it here. It immediately got a "this was helpful" vote from a shopper. One vote to the positive is one person who understood me. Whether that person buys the book is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is that the person was educated in his/her choice. My voice was heard.Books for 2014