This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: White Hot by Ilona AndrewsWhite Hot by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #2
Published by Avon on May 30, 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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five-stars
The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

It’s taken me weeks to write this review, and in that time I have read Ilona Andrews’ latest novel, White Hot, book 2 in the husband-and-wife writing team’s Hidden Legacy series, at least half a dozen times. I wanted to wait to post my review until I could compose my thoughts about the book in a calm, rational manner, but at this point I have accepted that this will simply never happen. So you must either stop reading now (I wish you wouldn’t) or excuse me while I gush.

Actually, I already reviewed the book on Amazon prior to my writing this. I wrote this after the first time I read the book:

A more coherent review may follow when I have full control of my words again. I will simply assume that, as they pertain to this novel, I will never regain full control of my feelings. I had high expectations for this because I loved the first book in the series so much and have reread it at least half a dozen times since its release, but whatever those expectations were have been blown out of the park.

This book is everything I didn’t dare wish for, yet the universe channeled the authors in order to deliver it to me and every other undeserving wretch left to blubber in incoherence at how hot, how sweet, how action-packed, how perfectly paced, and how in-your-face awesome this novel is. I don’t even care how many adjectives that was because at least they’re words and they are legible and somewhat sensical and that’s more than I expected to be capable of at this point.

I must reread this book. No, I must reread book one and then reread this book, the better to be blown away once again. Excuse me while I go and do that.

I have since reread White Hot at least five or six times, and each time I’ve ever found myself appreciating something I glossed over in past reads, or having a little detail spawn a bevy of conspiracy theories for future books in the series, or just sighing or giggling over the parts that I love and love and love. I’ve also found that reading and rereading this book has made me love the first book, Burn for Me, even more than I did originally.

But what do I love about it? First and foremost are the characters, of course. Main characters Nevada Baylor and Connor “Mad” Rogan give me so much to love about them individually as characters and together as a couple.

Nevada finds herself a little fish powering up and swimming with the big fish in the magical society wonderfully world-built by the authors, and she doesn’t just rise to the challenge—she does it while holding on to her values and her sense of self. And darned if she doesn’t school those veteran big fish on a thing or two about swimming in murky water!

Rogan we see through Nevada’s eyes, since this is told through the first-person point of view. But as with all romantic tales told in this POV, part of the joy is falling for the love interest and recognizing his love for the main character before the main character herself does, through those little clues and gestures that the narrator may dismiss or gloss over, only to realize later on the many small ways in which the hero has promised forever. But what I love most about Rogan is that he very much has his own agency, and while it isn’t really in his nature, he struggles with himself in order to accept that Nevada retains her own.

As a couple, they’re pretty freaking explosive and, yeah, white hot. Readers (and Nevada) finally learn what sex with a tactile is like, which we got a bit of a demonstration of in book 1, so this book his happily much less PG than the previous one—or, indeed, any of Ilona Andrews’ previous books, I would say.

I love the little details thrown into the writing, like how the narrator refers to Rogan as Mad Rogan during moments of frustration and anger or when she wants to distance herself emotionally (and obviously fails), Connor during intimate moments, and Rogan at most other times, but especially when they’re talking tactics or politics or other practical things.

I love the way their dialogue twists and turns, so it’s like foreplay in itself, so it’s like they’re sparring at times yet at others attuning perfectly to each other. Take this little gem, for instance:

“Genetics and children will become important.”

“Children are always important.”

See the way Rogan tries to educate her about the world of Houses and Primes, only to have Nevada acknowledge what he says but at the same time reject the values he is trying to tell her she needs to have? She agrees yet disagrees with him, and in this moment schools the teacher. So she accepts his greater experience in the world she now finds herself in, but also displays her greater experience in love and staying positive. And in doing so, effortlessly clears that hurdle I sometimes struggle with when the heroes of a romance are so book-boyfriendable: understanding why the heroines bring those heroes to their knees.

Another factor in my Rogada shipping is the fact that the characters, while obviously deeply in love, recognize the fact that they can and will function without each other. They are both eminently capable and smart, and when the deck is stacked against them, they prove themselves both willing to sacrifice their safety for the other but also unwilling to let the other person sacrifice themselves on their behalf. They give each other the freedom not just to be who they are but to make their decisions because they are who they are, even when they don’t feel those are the right calls to make. In a word, they accept each other, wholeheartedly, and in doing so show each other a part of themselves they don’t share with the rest of the world. They don’t smooth out each other’s rough edges so much as make a new and bold and exciting pattern by interweaving the frays in their fabric. And hot damn, it is beautiful.

I could go on and on about this relationship, but I have blathered quite a bit, so I’ll add some other points for gushing:

  • The world building is, as mentioned, spot-on and so rich I am pretty sure it could spin countless series. I’m not the only one clamoring for novels on each of the Baylor sisters and cousins, and Kat from Book Thingo suggested a redemption series following the hot villains who have been summarily defeated by our intrepid heroes. I would totally get down with that, as well as stories for auxiliary characters, like Rogan’s team, and even characters we’ve never heard of in other cities and countries in this world. Basically, if Ilona and Gordon were ever to read this, I’m saying, “You write it, I’ll buy it.”
  • The supporting cast of characters is, as mentioned, a very rich one, and each one makes the most of his or her scenes, hinting at a richer personal story and unplumbed depths as well as a world of possibilities as far as the magic goes
  • The intrigue factor continues to build in this book; the stakes prove higher, we’re drawn deeper into the politics of Primes, and the sinister organization our heroes battle proves to be bigger and more insidious than they thought.

The long and short of this is, I love, love, love this book. I am completely obsessed with it. I am talking to people who don’t even read the genre about it. I am stalking people who have read it just to see what they say about it. I am harassing strangers on Litsy because of it.

And I’m not sorry. The only thing I’m sorry about is the fact that the third book wasn’t available for purchase the day after this one. It’s hard, very hard, but I’m willing to wait for it!

In the meantime, I’ll keep rereading White Hot and Burn for Me, as well as every other book in the authors’ bibliography.

 

Feel Factor Rating

fan-factor5

adrenaline-factor5

intrigue-factor5

swoon-factor5

steam-factor3

 

Hidden Legacy Series Reading Order

1. Burn for Me
Buy on AmazonAdd to Goodreads • Read my review

2. White Hot
Buy on AmazonAdd to Goodreads

3. Wildfire (available July 25, 2017)
Preorder on AmazonAdd to Goodreads

 

About Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children, and many dogs and cats. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.