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Hell Fire (Corine Solomon, Book 2) by Ann Aguirre
Review by Pamela Millar
Roc Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451463241
Date: 06 April 2010 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Corine Solomon just can't catch a break, now that her ex-boyfriend Chance is back in her life. First they had a hell of a time taking down a nasty sorcerer in Blue Diablo, the first book in Ann Aguirre's urban fantasy series. Now, once again, Corine and Chance find themselves facing hell. Literally. They're going to Kilmer, her hometown where her mother was burned for being a witch, and Corine's determined to find out what's rotten in the state of Georgia.

I liked Blue Diablo quite a bit. I absolutely loved Hell Fire. It really feels like Aguirre has hit her stride with these characters, and it definitely shows in the tight, fast-paced plot. The book never felt like it was rushing, though, and it never dragged for me, either. The action was perfectly balanced with the quieter scenes, and the well-balanced writing really allows the characters to shine.

I'm also a fan of Aguirre's Sirantha Jax science fiction series, and I think I can safely say that creating sympathetic, believable characters is the author's strong suit. Her stories are imaginative and entertaining, but I find myself drawn to the characters. Corine grows a lot in Hell Fire, not only in terms of magical power but also in knowing herself.

When we first met Corine in Blue Diablo, she was basically in hiding, even if she didn't necessarily think of it that way. She had left Chance and settled in Mexico City, where she owns a pawn shop. In Mexico, she feels at home. She knows she has unfinished business, though, with Chance and with herself, and she manages to pick up even more emotional baggage in the form of Jesse Saldana, a Texas cop who is both her magical mentor as well as a potential lover.

Much of Hell Fire is devoted to Corine's emotional turmoil. Does she go back with Chance and risk her own life thanks to his luck powers? Or does she hook up with Jesse? The cop might seem the obvious choice, but he's not without his own brand of trouble. Jesse's an empath, which means he picks up on the emotions of people around him. Corine would be left to wonder if he's really in love with her, or if he's just playing back her own feelings in an emotional feedback loop.

On top of relationship problems, Corine must face the people who shunted her from foster home to foster home as well as try to ferret out the twelve people who murdered her mother when Corine was just a child. The mystery is as deep and twisted as the forest around Kilmer, and it was a very exciting, engrossing read. I had to pause in my reading to get off of an airplane and switch terminals, and man, that was frustrating.

Hell Fire is the kind of book you want to curl up with under a blanket on a blustery night. It's a creepy, nail-biting paranormal mystery with a delicious dash of potential romance, and it left me wanting more.

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