Joint Review – Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (Innkeeper Chronicles #1)

cover_clean_sweep

Publisher: Self
Publish Date: Out Now
How we got this book: MinnChica/Cass: eARC from author; MiscJoy: purchased

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

*Blurb from Goodreads*

MinnChica: I’ll readily admit that I am a HUGE Ilona & Gordon fangirl. I’ve loved all their books, stalk their blog religiously, and have yet to read something of theirs I didn’t SQUEE over. However, when Clean Sweep started as a serial on their blog, I was reluctant to start reading. Not because I was worried about the story, but more because of my OCD need to follow through completely. Only getting one chapter at a time would have driven me batty. So I waited (probably unlike almost everyone else) and didn’t read this until now. I LOVED IT. LOVED, Loved, loved!!!

Cass: Unlike you, I did not wait. In fact, I obsessively checked their blog for updates the whole time it was being written. The real question for me wasn’t “would I love it?” – because I already did – but “is it worth also buying?”

Answer? ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY. They told us there would be an (awesome) epilogue, but I wasn’t really expecting the whole-scale edits and upgrades throughout the text. Which made re-reading it an adventure. Sure, I knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t know Dina had siblings. Although MinnChina…you really should go back and read through the posts. Ilona gave us recipes when she wrote about food. You missed out on recipes!

MiscJoy: I waited to read this, too–not because I have any misgivings about the format of serials per se but rather because I’m so darn behind with my required reading that I don’t usually get to anything that’s on my personal reading list. So, when this came up for review, I jumped at the chance to push it to the top of BOTH piles. Hooray! I think it’s safe to say that all of us at The Book Pushers are huge Ilona Andrews’ fans. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I loved the illustrations that came with the published version. The story and world felt wild and original and yet comfortingly familiar all at the same time. The authors have a keen sense of timing/pacing and create dynamic characters with unique worldbuilding that never fails to draw me in from the very first page. Clean Sweep was no exception!

MinnChica: One of the things I love the most about Andrews’ work is that you never really know what to expect. Never, in a million years, did I think this story would end up incorporating aspects of science fiction, that the “others” of our world would be aliens. I love the twists and turns that I never expected to see, and am so very grateful that Andrews is going to keep writing books within this series, because there is so much more to discover and tell! I can’t wait to find out about Dina’s parents, more about the different types of aliens out in the world. I need to know more about how the Inn works, and how Dina functions within it. I just loved this book and story so much!

Cass: I knew from reading along that the Andrews’ duo planned to tie Clean Sweep into another one of their series. As soon as we got the science fiction explanation, I was expecting this to connect to the Kinsmen novellas. Instead, we got guest appearances from The Edge. My mind is blown! That means the Edge is science, not magic! Did anyone else have to go re-read The Edge books and look for clues? No? Just me?

MiscJoy: Huh, I missed that connection in the narrative of Clean Sweep. I didn’t think to go back and look for it in The Edge series, either. I did read a recent blog post that indicated a connection between these two worlds may someday come to fruition. How exciting!! I can’t wait to see how it all develops!! As for Clean Sweep, I didn’t come away with the idea that science somehow negated magic, or that because these two worlds may intersect at some point that the Edge isn’t magic. To me, the explanation in Clean Sweep augmented the presence of magic in the world and showed how the boundaries of known science could be exploited. It also made magic seem more accessible. I loved the tie to intuition as being a form of magic as something that we all have. Such a simple thing, intuition, and yet how to explain it? Why not magic? I also really liked the inclusion of aliens, references to alternate dimensions and inter-planetary travel. It opens this world up in a huge way and makes it feel exciting with possibility.

MinnChica: Although I am a romance junkie at heart, I loved the UF aspect of this book. I think the love triangle was set up nicely, and I can only hope that we aren’t left hanging for long to see who Dina picks. Both Sean and Arland were fabulous heroes, and I adored so much about them both. Poor Sean was hit with a wallop when he discovered his true history, and Arland had a bit of an ego problem. However I loved the way that Dina treated them. She demanded respect, that she be treated as an equal, and that they allow her to fight alongside them. She is another kick ass heroine that I can’t wait to read more about.

Cass: Hah! I am Team Dina all the way. Arland has no chance. He only thinks he has a chance because of his ridiculous ego. Only an alien would interpret Twilight as a guarantee that he’d get lucky.

MiscJoy: If I have any trepidations about the direction the story may take, the presence of a love triangle would be it. Having said that, I never really considered Arland as a serious suitor. I doubt he’d ever be able to put someone else’s interests above his own or that of his family’s. Plus, as a species, Vampires seem rather feud-driven. I just don’t see that meshing well with the duties of an Innkeeper, who are supposed to remain neutral to issues that don’t directly threaten the Inn or its guests. Not that I think Arland will stop trying, of course. But I really don’t think (*fingers-crossed, spits over left shoulder three times*) that we’ll get the typical emo-angst-driven love triangle that usually has me wanting to chuck the book against the wall. I agree with you, Cass. I’m for Team Dina, hands down! She has a good heart, a strong sense of self and the courage to face challenges head on. Whoever she ends up with, if she ends up with anyone, will be the right choice for her. Really, I loved all the characters, warts and all, and I can’t wait for more from this world–in whatever direction the authors take the story.

MinnChica: All in all I thought that this novella was a wonderful and fabulous story. I loved the world that Andrews has created, and I feel like we’ve only gotten the chance to see such a small portion of it. I can’t wait to find out more about Dina, the Inn, and her family. I’m anxious to see if and when the romance picks up, and what adventures are in store for Dina next.

I give Clean Sweep an A.

Cass: Cleen Sweep’s online version gets a B from me. I was irritated at the Team Sean/Team Arland vibes I was getting, because there was no way she’d go, and no way either of them would stay.

The published version, however, jumps to a solid A. The extended backstory filled all the niggling plot holes, while the epilogue wrapped everything up with a big bow of awesome.

MiscJoy: This may be a novella, but it doesn’t read like one. The story is well developed, the characters and relationships are fully formed, the worldbuilding is excellent. The narrative flows effortlessly and the pace is just right. Skillfully done. What more can I say? I loved it. Flawless.

I give Clean Sweep an A+.

Comments

  1. says

    I absolutely loved this story. I did not read it as a serial, though I knew about it. I just don’t want to torment my self on a weekly basis. I did not catch the connection to The Edge series, although I do love those. I did catch some Twilight fun.
    And for romance, I do not think there is a chance of developing romance with either the vampire or the werewolf. The werewolf has got a taste of the universe, and perhaps he will be back to visit some times, but he will never stay. And the vampire has a life in a galaxy far, far away. And to be frank, the story doesn’t need any romance. Just bring us more strange guests and their stories in the next books.

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