I'm reviewing these together, because I can, and because I read them back to back so the details are kind of blurred together.
Backstory: Corine has the power of psychometry, she can feel an objects past by handling it, and occasionally it's future. Using her power has a painful cost, because rather than being born with it she came by it under tragic circumstances; When she and her witch mother were burned out of a small Georgia town. Corine has settled herself down in Mexico running a pawn shop in an effort to forget her tangled past, and to hide from all the people looking for her. And those include her ex boyfriend and a whole host of enemies.
Blue Diablo Summary: Chance, the ex, arrives on Corine's doorstep and begs her to come back just to help find his kidnapped mother. Corine who is both still in love with Chance, and has fond memories of his mother, can't resist, especially when he promises to help her figure out who killed her mother, if they can just get his back. They end up taking on warlocks, human traffickers and drug cartels in the border town of Laredo where new friends open Corine's eyes to a world where she's far from the only one with a special talent.
Hell Fire Summary: Chance comes through on his promise to help Corine as they head off to the tiny Georgia town she grew up in. Except when they get there, his luck runs out, there's a demon loose in the woods, and Chance and Corine seem to be around every time someone dies or is hurt - which is happening awfully often for a small town.
The plots are clever, well thought out and since the magic is largely built on existing traditions of the occult, the worldbuilding is smooth.
I really really like Aguirre's writing style, she has a way of just pulling me along with the story. It hooked me with Sirantha Jax, and it hooked me here.
She write excellent, complex, very real characters, and ... that's almost a problem here. Because unlike most other UF female heroines, Corine is a mess. She's scared, she's terribly insecure, she's got almost no self-esteem, she actually comes off as bordering cliniically depressed. And she's written really really well, and we get to see a lot of her internal dialogue so she's a bit tiring.
For instance, she has a typical low self-esteem trait for instance, of taking anything positive said about anyone else in her presence, and mentally turning it into a negative about herself. She takes everything everyone says personally. She tries to talk herself into a better frame of mind but she can't even give herself a decent compliment, coming up with "I do ok". And she wibbles about between two men who both clearly want her, because she can't believe either of them really want her - She thinks one wants her because she has a gift, and the other because he does and is reflecting her own want back at her.
On the other hand, this is a series, and series progress, and so do characters. And it's a completed series, which has really great reviews - and I've already seen a huge positive change in Corine from the first book to the second, and not just random personality transplant either, it looks like growth to me. At the start of the first book she's a trembling little wildflower, I half expected her to flinch and cower if anyone raised a hand to wave. By the end of the second one, she's beginning to take charge, stops letting the guys push her around and make decisions (although, that might possibly have just backfired in a huge way, at the end of book 2), and as she learns more and more about this hidden world of magic and gifts, she's becoming more and more confident.
I like this series, and I'm going to read on, I love the flavour, I love the writing, I like the characters. I like that there's an intelligent chihuahua, and a demon that makes "I am your father" jokes, and that there's a holy warrior with the names of angels tattooed on his head, all mixed up with drugs and trafficking and border crossings and witches and warlocks and cops. I like all of it well enough that I can forgive Corine for being a wishy washy, whiny little dishrag at the beginning, and I'm looking forward to seeing where she ends up.
I suspect if you don't like the writing quite as much as I do, you might come to a quite different conclusion, and Corine's antics might be harder to take.