Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Series or Standalone:Hidden Legacy #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: Murder; violence; gun violence; death of a parent; kidnapping; torture; grief; panic attacks/PTSD
Is it cliche to say White Hot is white hot? Because it’s the truth. When I think of the Hidden Legacy series as a whole, this is one book that always standouts in my head as it packs an emotional punch in so many ways.
Private investigator Nevada Baylor has a special skill of knowing when people are lying – a rare power in a city filled with magic users – and is learning to find her place in the magical community in Houston. When Cornelius Harrison’s wife is killed, he hires Nevada’s firm to investigate. However, there is much more to this murder than first meets the eye, which throws Nevada back into the orbit of the sexy, billionaire Prime Mad Rogan. As much as Mad Rogan frustrates Nevada, she cannot deny their chemistry. But the stakes are higher than ever so they’ll need to work together to help and protect those they love.
When it comes to the plot, this book feels heavier. The murder of Cornelius’ wife Nari is genuinely heartbreaking – reading the scene where they review the video footage of what happened is like a sucker punch. The investigation of her murder leads Nevada and Rogan to uncover a broader plot that connects to Adam Pierce from Burn for Me. You continue to see the worst of the Primes and Houses with our villains with Nevada and Rogan showing the potential for Primes to do good. The stakes feel much higher in this book, and yet, Ilona Andrews continues to balance the world-building, romance, action and intrigue perfectly. Plus, I love how they weave in moments of fun – the scene with the ferrets is iconic and one of my favorite. I always fly through this book as the action scenes and the mystery keep you on the edge of your seat.
One of the reasons White Hot is one of my favorite books in the Hidden Legacy series is due to character development – particularly of Rogan and Nevada. This book humanizes Mad Rogan – he’s not just the slightly psychopathic killer we saw in Burn for Me. While the book is told from Nevada’s point of view, Andrews pulls back the layers of Mad Rogan as we learn more about his past – particularly his military experience and how that shaped him into the man he is today. His devotion to his soldiers is admirable – he’s a true hero in many ways, and people don’t know it. I love how Andrews also explores some of the struggles veterans face with coming back from war through Rogan. In his position as head of his House, he never really had an opportunity to leave the war behind and acclimate to civilian life. That flipped a switch for me and made me understand him more deeply.
With Nevada, we see her coming more into her own and embracing her powers. In Burn for Me, she was scared of leveraging her truthseeker abilities, but in White Hot, we see her start to use her powers more and take on a bigger leadership role. She’s more comfortable in this world of magic and Primes than in Burn for Me, which is a good thing as she’s attracted the attention of some powerful people and enemies. Despite Nevada owning her powers and what looks like a new position in the world, she’s still the same Nevada, driven by the principles her father instilled in her. She still has her morals and will do what is right to help those who need it the most. Her empathetic nature is one of her greatest assets. I truly love watching her evolve over this series and in this book.
Because of all the work Andrews does further developing these characters, the romance flows naturally. Nevada and Rogan get to know each other on a deeper level. Some of my favorite romantic bits are the small moments where they both know how to distract the other, so they don’t get trapped in their own head and thoughts. This wouldn’t be Nevada and Rogan, though, if there weren’t great banter, lots of sarcasm and Nevada continuing to get annoyed with Rogan when he does something he considers protection, but she considers overstepping. The chemistry between them sizzles whenever they’re on the page together, and we finally get some excellent payoff on it. I love that the romance isn’t just based on chemistry though. They both get to know and see the other for who they truly are, flaws and all, and that feels like real love to me. But it’s not all smooth sailing. Some big obstacles are still in their way if they want to be together, but they’re things that they don’t have to think about just yet.
Finally, I continue to love all the side characters in this book. The Baylor clan, particularly Grandma Frida, is my favorite. I’m so glad to see Cornelius back as he’s such a staple of this series, and Matilda is such a great addition to the series as she fits in so well with the Baylors despite going through what she does. This book also introduces us to a TON of characters who end up playing a much bigger role as the series progresses and it’s fun to revisit their introductions.
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite book in the Hidden Legacy series as they all sort of blend together after many rereads, but this one might be it. It’s the perfect balance of romance, action, heartache and grief in one story. If you haven’t picked up this series, what are you waiting for? They’re truly so good, and you’ll fly through them as you get sucked into the world, story and romance.