Book Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Posted August 6, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Genres: Magical Realism
Published by Avon Books on August 25, 2020
Pages: 399
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

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Also by this author: Burn For Me, Magic Shifts, Burn for Me, Magic Binds, White Hot, Wildfire, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic, "Gerard Demille and Helen Meet", "Diamond Fire", Magic Rises , Magic Breaks, Magic Shifts , Magic Binds , Magic Triumphs, "Sweep with Me", Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, "Questing Beast", "A Mere Formality", Blood Heir, "The King of Fire", Blood Heir , Sapphire Flames, "A Misunderstanding", "The Cool Aunt", One Fell Sweep

Fifth in the Hidden Legacy magical realism mystery series (and second in the Catalina Baylor Trilogy) revolving around the Baylor family which recently became a House in Houston, Texas. The couple focus is on Catalina Baylor and Alessandro Sagredo. It’s been six months since Sapphire Flames, 4.

My Take

It’s greed versus the right thing to do.

Oh man, Emerald Blaze is full of conflicts! It starts off with a funny confrontation that quickly moves into a scary one with monsters! Then Linus calls. It’ll be an ages-old confrontation between him and a wealthy enemy that adds color to the mission that Alessandro is on.

That’s not even talking about the inciting incident, a grotesque, hideous murder that has everyone baffled along with a variety of attacks, battles, frame-ups, betrayals, and so much more. I guess it’s why I love reading this series so much! There is so much action with fascinating characters in this amazing world Andrews has created.

Grandmother Tremaine is so nasty. Wait’ll you read Catalina’s analysis of why Nevada left them. The lousy deal she forced on Catalina.

The family loyalty is so heartwarming with all the caring that goes along with it. I absolutely adore the teasing that goes on with them. They can all be so damned scary, and yet they love, not fear, each other. And the Baylors keep pulling people into their sphere.

More fun is how everyone reacts to Catalina and her youth, lol. Those black wings of hers that show up are amazing. And Heart and Penelope are still slowly building something.

I do wish that Andrews had done a better job of the info dumps. Sure, it’s good to know the history, but make it a natural part of the story. The back history that Catalina discovers about Alessandro’s father was well done, and I wanted to cry. I did enjoy all the chat about constructs as well as Regina’s explanation of how they’re built. Oh, that info dump Andrews created when Cornelius and Catalina interview Tatyana was fabulous. And, yeah, made me want to cry and then kill a few people! Gotta hand it to Tatyana, she had a great comeback and philosophy.

And it only gets scarier with what Regina explains to Catalina. And scarier and scarier. I’ll tell ya, Christian Ravenscroft was definitely one of the scary ones. Jerk. LOL, wait’ll you read how Catalina and Grandmother Tremaine discuss the guy *more laughter*. I could wish Christian heard them! Poor Albert.

Oh, man, the way Catalina picked apart that alibi! It got me to itching to get to the end to find out what happened! At least Bern has some fun going on, lol. As do we when he finds out how much everyone knows, lol.

Andrews uses first person protagonist point-of-view from Catalina’s perspective, which opens up a conduit to her mind with all her thoughts and emotions. Lol, you can’t help laughing at Catalina’s thoughts about how Arabella would have reacted a few years ago — oh, yeah, riding that “‘skateboard’ up and down the street”. Of course, it’s those scary concerns about her turning into Grandmother Tremaine that do spook her.

It’s interesting to see how Alessandro has changed . . . and what triggered it! He’s trying so hard to convince Catalina.

Catalina catches us up with what Nevada has been doing. Well, besides being pregnant. There’s a surprising action towards the end that has to do with the baby, especially after Victoria’s comments in Sapphire Flames.

Hmm, Patricia and Regina Taft have some secrets; I wonder when Andrews will reveal those. Another secret that Andrews never revealed until now is how fast Catalina processes thoughts.

Oh, wow, the people in charge of the reclamation project are something else! The interviews Catalina and Alessandro conduct with them are breathtaking, and not in a good way.

Yet another crack-up is Henry Jiang and his refusal to kowtow to his family’s wishes. Poor Stephen! He certainly has a lot to say about Felix and Cheryl. Oh boy.

Ah, phew, that last battle? Wow. Just. Wow. I had no idea how Catalina was going to “win” this one, and her plan was brilliant.

The Story

House Baylor is under attack with monsters haunting her every step, Prime magic user Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart. 

Not even Alessandro’s lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart. 

The Characters

The young Catalina Baylor is a Texas Deputy Warden and siren Prime, who can talk anyone into anything, incite people into loving her way too much, and the Head of her House. Shadow is the dog she rescued in Sapphire Flames.

House Baylor Investigative Agency is . . .
. . . the family firm started up by their dad. Arabella is the youngest sister and the Beast of Cologne. Baby is her red Mercedes, armored. Penelope is Nevada, Catalina, and Arabella’s mom and an amazing sniper. She adopted the bear-like Bern, who is a whiz on computers and a patterner Prime. His half-brother Leon recently discovered he was a shooter Prime, and he makes lightning-fast deductions. Their mother and Pen’s sister, Gisela, is a disaster walking. She’s hanging with El Temor, the Fear, a luchador. Grandma Frida Afram, whose talent is talking to armored vehicles, built Rhino, a custom armored SUV for the family as well as Brick, a monster of an armored vehicle. Romeo is Grandma’s favorite tank.

Sabrian Turner is House Baylor counsel. Patricia Taft is their head of security; Regina, an upper-level Significant animator, is her wife, and she has a scary brother. Cinder is the Tafts’ cat construct. Samir, Brittney, and Britney Hays are part of security. Cassius is a German shepherd and also part of security.

House Harrison is . . .
. . . headed up by Diana, a Prime animal mage, is Cornelius’ sister. Cornelius has been employed by House Baylor since White Hot, 2. Matilda is his sweet young daughter. Talon, a red-tailed hawk, and Bunny, a Doberman pinscher, are some of Cornelius’ animal helpers. Zeus is a summoning pulled from an arcane realm. House Harrison hates House Pierce.

House Sagredo
Alessandro “the Artisan” Sagredo, an Italian count and an Antistasi Prime whose magic nullifies other mental magic and can pull magic out of the ether, is an assassin with a reputation. He does like his Alfa Romeos. His father had been Marcello Sagredo. His mother used to paint. His sister has been Alessandro’s agent until now.

House Rogan
Their oldest sister, Nevada, a truthseeker Prime who is forty weeks pregnant, married Connor Rogan, a telekinetic Prime who is off the charts. Arossa is Connor’s mother. The eight-year-old Mia Rosa is a relative and powerful. Xavier Ramirez Secada used to be Rogan’s first cousin (“Diamond Fire“, 03.5); how he’s a Prime Telekinetic.

Sergeant Benjiro Heart, who heads up Rogan’s elite fighting unit, supervised Catalina’s martial arts training. June, a personal aegis (a shield mage) is Nevada’s bodyguard. “Bug“, a swarmer, is their surveillance specialist. Connor once told Nevada that his father had told him that a Sagredo Prime is the most dangerous opponent he could ever face. Dr Daniela Arias heads up Rogan’s private clinic. Alan is one of the sixteen, currently entangled in a kidnapping in Russia. I think Shevchenko is the enemy in this.

House Etterson . .
. . . Runa is the head of her House, a Prime Venenata, a poison combat mage, and Catalina’s friend (“Diamond Fire“, 03.5, and Sapphire Flames, 4). Ragnar and Halle are her siblings.

House Tremaine
Victoria Tremaine is the Baylors’ evil grandmother currently serving time at the Shenandoah State Correctional Facility, a.k.a. the Spa. Trevor is one of her assistants.

House Montgomery is . . .
. . . headed up by Augustine “Pancakes” Montgomery, an illusion Prime, who also heads up Montgomery International Investigations (MII) that has a stranglehold on the Baylors. Lina Duplichan is Augustine’s assistant.

House Duncan is . . .
. . . Linus Duncan, a supposedly retired Speaker of the House, who is actually a Warden for the state of Texas, is also a Hephaestus Prime and a witness and mentor for House Baylor to which he’s become a friend. As Warden, his prime directive is to safeguard the Osiris serum. Pete drives Duncan’s Rolls Royce Cullinan. Pete is also a bodyguard along with Hera.

The Texas Assembly rules the Houses. Luciana Cabera is the current Speaker of the Assembly. The National Assembly rules all of America.

Agent Wahl does not like Catalina. Sergeant Munoz and Detective Henry Giacone are with the House Response Unit with Houston PD. Amanda is Giacone’s daughter who plays violin.

House Ravenscroft
Albert Ravenscroft is the son and heir as well as a Prime psionic who really wants to marry Catalina. His father, Christian, was heavily involved in the Strathearn Pipeline which was owned by Synesis; mother (an accomplished musician); and, younger brother, Patrick, are all Psionics. Cascade is their House spell.

Samantha Corners knew the identity of the assassin hired by Synesis.

House Morton
Lander Morton is a crotchety, wealthy old man (and a geokinetic Prime) determined to find out what killed his son, Felix, another geokinetic Prime whose wife, Sofia, died three years ago. Felix has a fourteen-old-son and two daughters.

The Pit is . . .
. . . Jersey Village, an environmental disaster created by an idiot mayor, Thomas “Bubba” Bruce, that is now being reclaimed from the monsters. Maybe. The Abyss is an intelligent construct in the swamp. Five Houses signed a contract for the Pit Reclamation Project (PRP): Marat Kazarian, a Prime Summoner who is the second son of Taniel Kazarian with two sons; Cheryl Castellano, a Prime Animator; Stephen Jiang, a Prime Aquakinetic; and, Tatyana “Fierce” Pierce, a Prime Pyrokinetic, whose brother Adam Pierce tried to destroy Houston four years ago in Burn For Me, 1. Peter is Tatyana and Adam’s brother as well as the head of House Pierce. Hellspawn is one of House Pierce’s high spells.

Jane Saurage had been Felix’s appraiser. House Kazarian has ties to Prince Lebedev in the Russian Imperium with suspicion of illegal activities. Tamara is Marat’s wife with a ne’er-do-well brother. Terrence is a paramedic. Cheryl is the head of House Castellano and obsessed with donating to charities. Sander is her son. Her husband, Paul Renfield, died some years ago. Rahul is Cheryl’s mentovocifer (a mind shrieker) and a telepath. Anna is her housekeeper. Evan is her chauffeur. Gloria Neville, a Magister Examplaria (a pattern mage like Bern) whose specialty is in economics, had been Olivia Charles‘ best friend (White Hot, 2). Kraken is the working name for an experimental construct model. House Kiang is all about the water with no controversies on record, except for Henry Jiang, a.k.a. Jiāng Ché Rùi, Stephen’s younger brother and Chen Rui, an actor. Stephen is also known as Jiāng Chéng Fèng; their father is Marcus Jiang, a.k.a. Jiāng Yuá Zé; their mother is Ann Jiang, a.k.a. Zhang Pèi Fāng; and, their sister is Alison, a.k.a. Jiāng Chéng Xīn.

Ignat “Arkan” Orlov is a former officer of the Russian Imperial Defense, an Imperium-sanctioned assassin. He had owned Diatheke, an assassin firm run by Benedict De Lacy, also an assassin (Sapphire Flames). Francis had contracted for the groom’s death.

The Legend of Han Min is . . .
. . . a Chinese xianxia drama Arabella loves. Hua Ling, played by Cheng Feng, is the royal physician and an assassin. Han Min is a martial arts heroine.

Rosebud, a tamarin monkey, is a cause of contention between House Baylor, House Montgomery, House Thom, and Maya. Audreys are a curse of the Baylors: an Audrey who was a kindergarten schoolmate was an enemy of Catalina’s; Audrey Swan was nasty to Arabella; Audri Burns was a nasty neighbor to Grandma Frida; and, Jenna Audreigh was the worst officer Mom ever served under. Audrey Duarte, an influencer, is obsessed with Leon. Robert J. Merritt had been one of the sixteen and a traitor.

A dud is a baby born without power. Saito’s Threshold is the point where a construct gains life. The Osiris serum was discovered over a century ago and imparts power to the taker.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a swirl of emerald green, black, and white. The background is black on the upper half with green sparkling swirls. On the lower half, it’s a volcanic bubble of more green, yellow, and splotches of orange. The black, long-haired Catalina stands in profile, her face turned toward us, wearing an emerald green full-length, slip dress with a sparkling silver belt, her left hand holding the sword. The black-haired and jacketless Alessandro is “casual” in his tuxedo pants and white shirt with the neck open, his sleeves rolled up, and that black bowtie undone. Both of his hands are holding a gun. At the very top is a pale yellow info blurb. The author’s name is white with tips of green. To the far left of Catalina is an Avon Books logo. The title is the same colors as the author’s name and start mid-thigh. Tucked in between the “B” and the “Z” is the series info in that pale yellow.

The title refers to the Emerald Blaze of those biomechanical eyes.

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