Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Series or Standalone: Hidden Legacy #4
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
CW: suicide attempt; murder; gun violence; gore; kidnapping; death of a parent
Sapphire Flames kicks off Catalina’s books in the second half of the Hidden Legacy series. While Catalina is different from Nevada in many ways, these books still feel familiar with the signature action, mystery, adventure and romance we’ve come to love from Ilona Andrews.
Sapphire Flames picks three years after we last saw the Baylors as their grace period as a new House is ending, and Catalina’s assumed the position of Head of House. When her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina’s willing to risk her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery – even if it means painting a target on her House’s back. But there’s much more to this case than meets the eye as Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush, is involved, but his motives are unclear. As Catalina works to solve the case, she stumbles on a much bigger plot that could jeopardize everything.
In Catalina’s books, the romance tends to take a back seat to the overarching story and series plot, especially compared to Nevada’s books. Don’t get me wrong, there is still romance in these books, but the romance between Catalina and Alessandro feels like it takes place in the background, while Nevada and Rogan’s romance felt more center stage.
Romance for Catalina is more complicated given the nature of her power. She wants someone to love her for her, but how can she know her powers aren’t affecting their feelings? That fear is something Catalina has to confront with her feelings towards Alessandro. She’s harbored a not-so-secret crush on him since she was a teenager, and given his position as an Instagram famous hotshot Prime, how could he ever genuinely like her? Ilona Andrews does a great job building the chemistry and sexual chemistry between Alessandro and Catalina. Their romantic relationship has a much slower build than Nevada and Rogan’s, which works for Alessandro and Catalina. And, ugh, Ilona Andrews knows how to twist the knife into your emotions, especially with that ending.
Sapphire Flames shines when it comes to the plot and characters. Once again, the Baylors take on an investigation that leads to much more trouble than anyone expected. But, hey, at least this time, they got a bit of an advanced warning that taking on Runa’s case would lead to trouble by Augustine Montgomery! This time a murder case leads to so much, including going head to head with an assassin firm, uncovering new warped creatures and discovering more mysteries related to the Osiris Serum. It’s incredible how much Ilona Andrews crams into this book, yet all the plot points flow seamlessly into each other. And now, looking back at this book after finishing Ruby Fever, I’m in awe of their plotting as there were so many hints and breadcrumbs on bigger things to come.
This story moves at a fast pace – it starts with a bang and doesn’t let up until the end. With car chases, fight scenes, mystery and romance, it has a little bit of everything and feels like something you’d see on the big screen. The plot hooked me, and I didn’t want to put it down until I was at the end.
The other thing I love about this book is the characters. Catalina feels very different from her sister Nevada regarding her tone and voice, yet there is something very similar between the two of them. They both have this drive to protect those they love and help others who need it. In some ways, I feel the protective drive is almost stronger in Catalina as she needs to prove her worth as the head of her House. I love watching Catalina grow throughout this book – she’s so different from the Catalina we saw in Nevada’s books as she’s learned to control her powers more and less scared of them. She’s in a position of authority now, and it really suits her. She feels the weight of her role, responsibilities and power, which affects her differently than it did Nevada. She has a lot of nuances to her as a character, and I love exploring them.
Alessandro’s a fascinating match for her. There is so much more to this man than meets the eye. He’s charming, arrogant, frustrating, caring, and so much more. He first pops back up again in Catalina’s life in one of my favorite scenes – it’s such a perfect reintroduction to him. What you see with Alessandro is not always what you get, and I love learning more about him as we only get a hint of the true Alessandro as he has plenty of secrets up his sleeve.
Outside our main characters, Ilona Andrews expands and further develops characters we know and love from Nevada’s books. We see a lot more of the Baylor family, particularly Leon and Arabella. Plus, we learn more about Runa, Cornelius, Linus Duncan, Augustine and Victoria Tremaine, which I love.
Sapphire Flame is a fantastic start to the second half of the Hidden Legacy series. It’s both familiar yet refreshing and new as Catalina takes center stage. This book does a fantastic job reintroducing us to some major players and setting the wheels in motion for the bigger series plotline. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend picking up this whole series as no one writes urban fantasy quite like Ilona Andrews! Trust me, you’ll want to read all of these books as quickly as possible once you get started.