Rating: 4.5 stars
This was an ARC from Netgalley. My views and opinions are my own.
On the alien planet of Rada, most of the powerful families have genetic abilities in some way or another, but the ones born with lethal combat abilities are the fiercest of rivals, and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. They are constantly vying to be the most dominant, and now both families are close to discovering the secrets behind their genetic abilities.
Matias Baena, head of his house, is surprised when he is told that Ramona Adler, head of hers, has come to see him unannounced. He's even more shocked when she has undeniable proof that her husband has been having an affair with his wife, and the couple is currently on the run with the business secrets of both the Baenas and the Adlers. Matias and Ramona have no choice but to join forces in tracking down their cheating spouses, to prevent possibly universe-altering technology being leaked and exploited.
It quickly becomes apparent that there are some very deadly groups wanting the business secrets, and Matias and Ramona do not have a lot of time. They need to keep their personal alliance hidden from their families and business rivals, escape the lethal forces trying to kill them, and resist the rapidly growing attraction between them. Not only are they both still married (although that's not going to be lasting long), but their families have been bitter rivals for more generations than anyone alive can remember.
Previous to releasing this novella, author-pair Ilona Andrews hadn't written or published anything in their sci-fi series Kinsmen since 2011. So I think it's fair to say that this story took a lot of their fans by surprise. At the same time, die-hard Ilona Andrews fans, affectionately nicknamed the Book-Devouring Horde on their website(of which I am certainly a member), will buy and probably love anything they publish. The good news for those readers who haven't read any previous Kinsmen stories is that this stands entirely on its own and can act as a jumping-on point to the other stories in the series or just act as a very nice taste of what the authors have to offer.
There is interesting world-building, which even in a story this short, feels perfectly established. There are intricate power struggles. The protagonists are both extremely capable at what they do, top of their field and also start out as antagonists. The chemistry between the leads and the dialogue, both between primary and supporting characters, sparkles. In this story, there is a clear goal, some very impressive action sequences, some hot personal moments, and a wholly satisfying ending. Well, if I was going to quibble, the ending came a bit too soon for my taste and I would have loved to spend more time with Matias and Ramona than a longish novella.
This story is available now and has been since late November. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to review it, but I am hoping to do better with my reviews in the coming year.
Judging a book by its cover: After seeing this cover, and the one for Blood Heir, from the start of the year, I am of the opinion that Louisa Pressler should design and create all of Ilona Andrews' covers. Considering so many of their books are eye-sores, these recent self-published books are a welcome change. I love Pressler's art and even if Ilona Andrews were number one on my pre-order list, I would have bought the book based on this cover.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.