Ilona Andrews, $13.99, ISBN 978-1540857217
One Fell Sweep is book three in Ilona Andrews’s Innkeeper Chronicles, but its plot is self-contained for the most part, so it can stand alone quite well. Strangely enough, it is also the most romantic effort I’ve read from the author so far – strange because the author’s past portrayal of romantic relationships tends to fall short for me in the past (Kate and Curran, shudder). Here, however, without the alpha-needs-to-dominate-you nonsense, Sean the werewolf is actually a tolerable love interest, and his relationship with our heroine Dina DeMille brings out some sweet, tender moments that work for me.
Anyway, in this one, Dina has barely caught her breath after the events in the last book when she has to retrieve her elder sister, who was exiled with her vampire husband when that man tried and failed to mount a rebellion against his family. Now a widow, Maud has killed the people behind the murder of her husband, and due to her antics, she has made far more enemies than wise. She and her daughter Helen (who’d get along very well with the girl in Logan) settle down nicely in Gertrude Hunt when Dina has another guest: one of the last of a species called the Hiru. The Hiru folks are subject to a religious-flavored genocide by another race called the Draziri – the Draziri folks believe that killing a Hiru is one of the two ways to enter their version of paradise.
This Hiru pleads for Dina’s aid in bringing together an all-knowing multipart being called the Archivarius. When all members are brought together to coalesce into the Archivarius, it can tell the Hiru and his people the location of a new world, one in which they can live in peace without having to worry about murderous Draziri folks ever again. The Hiru folks have also paid the Archivarius enough to answer one more question. The Hiru offers Dina a chance to ask this second question if she agrees to help him collect those members and bring them safely to Gertrude Hunt. For Dina, this means finally getting an answer to the whereabouts of her missing parents… as long as she is willing to risk the safety of her guests and her inn, by harboring a guest that will cause Draziri assassins to target the inn so long as the Hiru guest is alive.
Fortunately, Arland the vampire dude decides to take some much-needed R&R by guesting at Dina’s inn, and Sean is around. Plus, Maud is practically Space Xena, so Dina is not completely helpless. Let the fun begin!
This is one book to read if you wish to see how a witch with a broom can repel all assault on an inn. It’s pretty glorious, and I love how Dina is allowed to do her thing without having the strong men hovering and trying to cut in. Okay, she tends to faint after each dramatic show of action – shades of early Kate Daniels books – but still, kicking ass is kicking ass and I’m all for it. Maud is a fun character, and she catches the eye of Arland here, thus putting an end to a tedious budding love triangle that bored me silly in the last two books. In fact, Maud actually makes the bland Arland interesting here – his interactions with her and Helen draw out from him some much needed personality, and he turns into this sweet warrior that at the same time goes all sweet and daddy-like to Helen. He’s really adorable here.
Interestingly, Sean is continued to be portrayed as the most alpha-est of the alphas, but unlike a certain boring Lion-O-Douche that does not know the meaning of respecting his mate even if this respect shoves the Sword of Omens up his rear end, this guy actually has vulnerabilities that balance out what could have been another overpowered twat. Here, he may be protective of Dina, but he still gives her enough space and doesn’t try to dominate the whole relationship. His relationship with Dina is especially adorable here because it’s evident that he needs her, not because he smells the funky matey-mate-mate pheromones coming out from her bloomers, but because a vulnerable part of his soul needs the humor and the compassion Dina can provide. She understands a part of him that he isn’t certain he fully understands himself, and so he keeps coming back to her. This is a far cry from Lion-O-Douche, so okay, I can live with this guy being Dina’s boyfriend.
The plot is not the strongest aspect of this story, and there are big moments in the story where I feel that the author is cheating a bit. You see, a big threat will come up and all seems lost… only for one of Dina’s entourage to go, hey, he or she has the solution to the problem, so let this person pulls it out of that magical rear end of plot contrivances to save the day. Characters also have this bewildering habit of launching into exposition at the oddest times, such as when facing a dire threat on everyone’s life.
Still, there are many fascinating scenes here, making the setting even more alive and intriguing with each book, and the action scenes can still get the adrenaline going. The pacing is solid, everyone kicks ass right on schedule, and I have plenty of fun here. The romances being unexpectedly hard-hitting are nice bonuses. One Fell Sweep is a very entertaining throwback to those early books that made me a fan of the author in the first place, and as long as Sean doesn’t mutate into Lion-O-Douche and the power creep takes place at a reasonable pace, I think I’d enjoy the ride for some quite some time yet.