Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews

25 Sep 2014 by

Burn For Me is the most emotional and engrossing supernatural alternate history romance I’ve read in many, many, many months (and I read over a hundred books every year). If I leave feminist literary criticism to the wayside, then I can confidently say that it’s one of the best of any type of book that I’ve read in nearly the same amount of time. Immediately upon finishing the book, I can draw upon read-alike comparisons J. D. Robb, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, and Laurell K. Hamilton (before she devolved into plot-less erotica).

Burn For Me CoverSynopsis

Third person dramatic narrator Nevada Baylor is a strong-willed female with a hidden magical talent in a world ruled by gentleman’s agreement between supremely magical human beings called Primes. The Primes have coalesced into ruling Houses with most, but not all, descendants inheriting extreme magical power and wealth.  The introduction to the book, a note presumably from the authors, sets up the background in which European scientists discovered a serum in 1863 that “brought out” a human’s magical talents which could include, among many other options, powers such as controlling animals or elements, telekinesis, or telepathy.

Self-proclaimed magically insignificant Baylor is trying to track down one power-insane Prime (Adam Pierce) while under duress from another Prime (Augustine Montgomery) when she runs into a third Prime (Connor “Mad” Rogan) who will do anything in order to get information from her on Adam Pierce’s whereabouts. Baylor is the nagging piece of sand trapped between massive slabs of marble and granite, but despite her miniscule and fragile appearance, she is determined to wear them down. After all, the safety of Houston is at stake.

Mad Rogan is so-named from his military actions wherein he killed millions in service to his country. He’s one of the most powerful Primes in existence and has no concern for who knows it. He exists in his powerful and rich world, without future plans or goals, after he leaves the military. When his estranged and disowned cousin shows up on his doorstep to beg his help in locating her son, Gavin, who was caught helping Adam Pierce setting a bank on fire and killing a cop, Rogan appears cynical and bitter. No motivation is given as to why he decides to help his cousin, but once he’s on the case, he discovers that Baylor is the only way he’s going to succeed.

Review: The Nitty Gritty

While the novel includes romance, it is not set up as a one and done. It is obvious that a series of some sort is intended and the pace of the romantic pursuit is in accordance with that aim. It’s also a more believable romance without the asinine and overdone “true and instant love that will last forever” device. The chemistry between Rogan and Baylor is absolutely searing. Wife-husband team Ilona Gordon and Andrew Gordon hit all the right notes in creating an addictive need to know what is going to happen between the two, and their back-and-forth dialogue and actions flirts on that dangerous edge inherit in really good romances. Will they? Will they not? Do I want them to? The novel’s got that captivating tension.

The mystery of why Adam Pierce is setting parts of Houston ablaze is superbly edited and written – interesting in its slowly unveiled simplicity. The longer-term story arc that is intended to span several novels is also intriguing. By the end of the novel the greater mystery has been unveiled and I was left wondering what comes next. Of course, there will be a wait until the next novel is released, but it’s kind of nice to be left with that nagging anxiety. All too often I don’t feel that suspense anymore where release dates used to be a beautifully anticipated holiday followed by a no-holds-barred reading session until all hours of the night.

Here’s where things go down hill. Let’s rewind to the first paragraph in which I wrote, “If I leave feminist literary criticism to the wayside…” Now let’s go to the wayside. This book is a terrible example of “here’s a man whom I’m sure is a psychopath who will never be able to feel love, has no worries about murdering people whenever he wants to do so, and has no compunction about hurting and possibly killing me or my family, but I am still attracted to solely because he has the physique of a god.”

Yeah. I’m just going to leave that there and take a deep breath.

And another one.

The novel may be missing “TRUE LOVE ON FIRST SIGHT THAT IS SO ENGROSSING IT’S REAL LOVE EVEN THOUGH IT’S REALLY NOT,” but it totally has “HE ABUSES ME AND I LUST AFTER HIM ANYWAY BECAUSE HE IS HOT AND HE’S SO INTENSE.”

Damnit.

And here I am, utterly coated in shame, because I’m admitting with guilty melodramatic pleasure that I absolutely loved it despite my horror.

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The Takeaway

There’s a good balance of narration, description, exposition, and dialogue with compelling action sprinkled throughout. The transitions are absolutely seamless which leads to an entertaining and effortless read. If you aren’t disturbed by a romance set up in which the masculine character starts off by attempting to assert power through physical pain and domination, you’ll probably do just fine.

Information

Burn For Me
A Hidden Legacy Novel
by Ilona Andrews

Publisher: HarperCollins Imprint: Avon Books
Published October 2014 Pages: 400
Review Source: review copy Review Format: advance readers edition
ISBN: 978-0-06-228923-0 Finished on September 25, 2014

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