One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

From the New York Times #1 bestselling author, Ilona Andrews, comes a new tale from the Innkeeper Chronicles
One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles Book 3) by [Andrews, Ilona]
Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

Before I start this review, I need to give a little background. One Fell Sweep is the third book in a series that Ilona Andrews, a pseudonym for a husband-wife writing team, started as a side project. Already wildly successful authors, they, for reasons of their own, started posting chapters on their blog week by week. When they were done, they took the book off their site, polished it up, and self-published it, with no expectation that people would buy the book after they had already read it for free.

Sales went through the roof.

Three years later, the third book in the series, One Fell Sweep, has gone through the same process and will be be available in stores on December 20, 2016.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from the authors to review. I am horribly late in posting this, as life kept getting in the way, but without further ado, here are my thoughts on this amazing book.

I loved this book. I can’t say it any better than that. I loved the unpolished version put up week by week, and I loved the more formal, and presentable version just as much. All of the characters, the events, the relationships, everything … just worked.

Let’s tackle this piece by piece, because there is so much to cover.

Dina DeMille

Dina is an amazing character, who I adore. She is such a strong woman, with a moral compass that never wavers. I particularly love the way she never advertises her talents, and skills, and then leaves everyone gaping when she causally says “Oh yeah, I can do that too.”

“They will stop at nothing to kill me,” the Hiru said. “They will run through fire. There is no obstacle you can put in their way that will deter them.”

The room fell silent.

“I don’t deal in fire,” I said. “It’s difficult to control and the inn doesn’t like it. But I’m excellent at creating a void field.”

Sean stared at me.

Arland coughed. “A void field requires a high efficiency nuclear reactor.”

“Or an inn with a skilled innkeeper,” Maud told him.

“You can do that?” Sean asked me.

“I already did it,” I told him.

Character Relationships

Ilona Andrews, is also the master of slow burn romance. The relationship between Sean and Dina is allowed to grow and flourish and change as they themselves change before they ever have sex or become a couple, which is simply amazing, especially in the sea of one book relationships of today. Not that I have anything against books where the hero and heroine come together in one book, I just love the way you get to see the relationship form in Ilona Andrew’s novels.

Story Building

This book was so good in this regard. It brought back things and people we had met before, explained concepts of the past, all while dealing with things in the present, and going towards the future. You learn about inns and their relationships with innkeepers, about ancient civilizations, and people you met in book one, all while battling evil aliens who seek to harm one of Dina’s guests. And the story never lags through all of that!

Small Annoyance

Well, it doesn’t lags because of anything described before. This book is amazing, as I think you might realize already. But in places, the story does slow. And it is because of backstory. Not backstory of characters or places, those all flow perfectly, but the backstories of things that happened in previous books. While I understand the need to catch up readers who have never read the series before, and are starting with the third book, it gets a bit annoying for continuous readers to have to relearn and go over things they already know. But in the grand scheme of things, this was a very minor annoyance.

Everything Else

There is just too much to cover about this book for me to hit everything. So I am issuing a blanket statement about the rest of the book.

It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It will make you sob, and vow revenge, and sigh dreamily. It is everything you didn’t know you needed in your life.

 

I rate this book 5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own.*

Advertisements

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

30320008The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

When I find read this synopsis I went … a woman warrior, who is Celtic, AND becomes a gladiator … uh … where do I sign up?! But unfortunately the novel did not live up to my expectations.

This book was the classic case of awesome awesome story line, mediocre execution. And it is these kinds of books that bother me most. It could have been so good. But it fell just short. But then I have some strict standards, so let me tell you what turned me off.

The book starts out with Fallon, the heroine, attempting the “Morrigan’s Flight” an extremely difficult maneuver involving a chariot, a spear, and almost certain death. I don’t want to say what happens next, as I feel it would be a spoiler, but Fallon is made out to be a fearsome warrior, one of the best in her entire clan, simply by the fact that she is even attempting this extremely dangerous trick.

This makes it hard to understand, when later in the novel, she is constantly put down for her martial skills. In the first few chapters, Fallon is the best of the best. In the space of the next few chapters she becomes almost completely incompetent, to the point of cowering in a ball when someone attacks her. Needless to say, this makes no sense. And this is just the first problem.

The entire book reads like a soap opera, with people coming back to life, and dying, and backstabbing, and ominous portents, all happening without pause. One event happens, and while you are still absorbing, the next one has already happened, and the third is starting. I am not ashamed to say that I skipped a few chapters, because I couldn’t deal with all the melodrama anymore.

That said, it is obvious that the author researched her book thoroughly before she wrote it. The descriptions of the Celts, their traditions, and clothing, is – as far as I can tell – spot on, and so vivid, I can almost see them in front of me. So too are the types of gladiators, and the other cultures portrayed.

The backlashes, and startling events are all good ideas, and things I would enjoyed, if there was a split second more time between them, and romance was a wonderfully drafted slow build that were my favorite parts of the books.

No, wait I take that back. My favorite scenes were definitely the fight scenes, which were heartstoppingly detailed. I was on the edge of my seat with every word.

All in all, this book was a good book that had the potential to be amazing.

I rate this three out of five stars.

To Be Released: February 14, 2017

*I was provided an ARC by my local library for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.*