Monday 24 February 2020

#CBR12 Book 8: "Sweep with Me" by Ilona Andrews

Page count: 140 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Spoiler warning! This is the fifth story in the Innkeeper Chronicles series, and this review may contain spoilers for previous installments. If you want to start at the beginning, Clean Sweep is the first book.

For Innkeepers, the biggest and most sacred holiday of the year is the Treaty Stay, which commemorates the ancient treaty between the first Inns, their intergalactic guests, and the agreement to keep humans safe and completely unaware of the presence of alien visits to Earth. During a Treaty Stay, Inns have to open the doors to anyone who seeks lodging, which is how Dina and Sean, who have only barely managed to recover from the last very dramatic events at Gertrude Hunt, find themselves preparing to host not only a large flock of philosophically minded and argumentative space chickens (no, really) but an extremely powerful and notoriously difficult to please space warlord, who has some sort of important meeting she needs to attend to on Earth.

Orro, Dina's neurotic perfectionist of a chef drives himself nearly mad trying to produce the food request that the warlord has asked for as her first meal. He's also gotten himself addicted to fast-paced reality cooking shows. Sean is having fun upgrading the inn's defenses, which is urgently needed, considering the ruthless businessman that their alien guest is meeting with keeps trying to send mercenaries to break into the inn. Dina still feels a bit lost and out of touch with her Inn after the near-death experience she's still recovering from. She worries that she won't have the full control and power she requires to see to the safety and well being of all of her guests during the Treaty Stay.

This was a holiday novella that Ilona and Gordon (the writing team that make up Ilona Andrews), as always first released in free installments on their website and then published for fans to buy. It made my Christmas and New Year's holidays a happier place to be, certainly.

I love how, even in a fairly short story, the authors manage to balance humour, romance, friendship and the importance of family (Caldenia and Orro's presence at the inn is clearly a given for Dina, and I suspect she considers them family just as much as Maud, Helen and now Arland), with suspense and action. As always, there were laugh out loud bits, and there were some action sequences that would make your jaw drop if you saw them play out on a movie screen.

These are bonus stories that IA generously bestow on their fans, in between writing their other ongoing series, and I've come to really enjoy the extended cast and the strange little fantasy/sci-fi blend they contain. I don't want to become complacent and take these books for granted, but I hope the authors continue to occasionally release new installments, especially now that they've teased us with the possibility of Klaus, the elusive, missing Demille brother.

Judging a book by its cover: The covers for the Innkeeper Chronicles continue to be among the best that Ilona Andrews have for their books, probably because they pay someone to make them, so they have full creative control. While I think Sean looks uncharacteristically pouty, I like Dina's powerful stance and her sweeping (see what I did there) robe, as well as the festive (and plot appropriate) lanterns in the background.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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