Ilona and Gordon are back with a new addition to the Hidden Legacy series, and this time we're following Catalina. We got a little peak into her (younger) head with Diamond Fire, and I think we definitely needed that stepping stone from Navada to Catalina. I know a few people have struggled a little with the swap from the eldest Baylor sister that we'd all grown attached to, which is understandable. After all, we know reasonably little about Catalina. But isn't that kinda great? A fresh take on a world that we've already grown to love sounds perfect to me.
I decided pretty early on that I wasn't going to re-read the previous three instalments leading up to the release of Sapphire Flames. And honestly I think it did me the world of good. I came in a little hazy on the events of Navada's triology, but remembered enough to feel comfortable in catching up pretty quickly. And as usual, our favourite author duo pave the way beautifully for returning and new readers. You could definitely cut in here if for some ungodly reason you felt the need to shun the previous books. Again, from the hours I've spent reading reviews for this one, I know that a fair amount of readers felt the loss of Nevada and Rogan in this one. But I think we really needed it to cement us in Catalina's narrative. I did at least! And in a way, this was really a introduction to a very new Catalina.
We had a taste of her in DF, as I mentioned, but 3 years have passed, and she's had to grow up. I say had to, because as Sapphire Flames opens, we're at the end of House Baylor's grace period, and as such, our protagonist is just about to really experience what it means to be Head of her House. Oh and there's the little issue of good people getting murdered. In terms of plot, we're thrown in deep straight off the bat. It'll come to absolutely no one's surprise that the execution of the hit the ground running start is pretty flawless.
Honestly the book is flawless, so if you were hoping for a 'but' at some point, you came to wrong place. I'm pretty damn smitten with the characters, setting, plot and general writing style. And lets just take a moment to discuss the setting. Sure, it's the same world we've walked in throughout the series, but damn if it isn't incredible. No one world builds quite like the Andrews. The magic structure is fresh and fun, you can tell they have a perfect control on the history of the world and the magic, and it really pays off. I struggled for a while trying to figure out exactly what is was that makes these books, more so even than the Kate Daniels series, so incredibly readable. And I think it's just that. Its no single part of the world or character building, or the fun and witty dialogue that makes's this so great. It's all of it. I honestly don't know how they do it, but at the risk of sounding cliche, picking up a Hidden Legacy book feels as easy as breathing. It's completely effortless. Some of my lucky Goodreads friends received ARC copies, and some of them read the book several times before it's official release date. Normally this would confuse me, because I'm not typically someone who easily re-reads within short frames of time. But let me tell you that I could just as easily have turned back to page one when I finished Sapphire Flames than put it down.
In fact, I'd say it was a great deal harder to put it down than to just start it all over again. This series is so addictive, that I'm pretty much ruined for all other books. If I had to reach for any series, it would hands down be this one. And with the ending of Sapphire Flames, I'm left desperately ready for a sequel. You can bet any money in the world that I will be spending every book until Hidden Legacy #5 just slightly disappointed, because nothing quite lives up to this standard. I'm almost tempted to say that I wish I'd waited to read Sapphire Flames until closer to the next release. 'Almost', because I'd be doing myself such a disservice. Honestly I've said it before and I will say in again and again until someone stops me: No one else write quite like Ilona and Gordon. There such an energy to every word, can you can tell how much love goes into each piece of writing.
On the subject of love, lets talk romance. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Alessandro and Catalina, mostly because I wasn't fully sold on Alessandro going in. I know, I'm surprised too. Happy to say that that was pretty swiftly nipped in the bud. We learned more about him pretty early on, that immediately had me sold. What can I say? All it takes is confidence, a nice smile and the ability to murder a man and then jump out a glass window. I'm a girl of few needs. But less on myself and Alessandro, and back to him and our new protagonist. I loved these two. In just one book, we really got a chance to see them in a variety of scenarios, and it was a nice chance to see how they reacted to each other. Angry, annoyed, flirty, protective, to name a few.
We went in knowing that Catalina had issues when it came to her magic and the possibility of any romantic endeavours was pretty off the table as far as she was concerned. Thankfully for her (and us as readers), Alessandro is pretty keen to put things very much on the table (or sink, I'm looking at you chapter 14). I was worried that I'd find the issue of Catalina's powers and the relationship a little iffy, but actually it was nice to see her vulnerable. As Head of House, she has to be everything but vulnerable, so the moments we get of her like that are pretty great.
Going in, I had a lot more questions about Catalina than Alessandro, but boy have the tables turned. Honestly I could go on and on and on about this one, but I'm in danger of spending all night glued to my laptop staring bleary eyed at the screen while typing away all my thoughts. I'll leave you with this quote:
"He should've never kissed me. He was mine now and I wanted him."
If that doesn't have you eagerly awaiting the next instalment, I don't know what will. (Other than a pregnant Nevada finally returning, unveiling secrets about Alessandro and seeing how many more sacrifices Catalina is willing too make for the people she loves.)