Formats available: paperback, ebook
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3
on December 20th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, is glad to have you. We cater to particular kind of guests, the ones most people don’t know about. The older lady sipping her Mello Yello is called Caldenia, although she prefers Your Grace. She has a sizable bounty on her head, so if you hear kinetic or laser fire, try not to stand close to the target. Our chef is a Quillonian. The claws are a little unsettling, but he is a consummate professional and truly is the best chef in the Galaxy. If you see a dark shadow in the orchard late at night, don’t worry. Someone is patrolling the grounds. Do beware of our dog.
Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your host, Dina Demille, will defend you at all costs. We ask only that you mind other guests and conduct yourself in a polite manner.
This one is all about family. The one you are born to, and the one that you make. With Dina stuck in the middle, trying to protect all of them. Not just because that’s her job, but because that’s who she is.
This is also a story about grace under pressure, or under fire. Laser fire.
The plot is driven by the two things that drive Dina – the need to find her missing parents, and the need to protect her guests. In this story those two things become inextricably entwined, thanks to a little push from George the interfering Arbitrator. While this whole mess could be payback for the way he screwed Dina over in Sweep in Peace, knowing George it is much more likely that he has plans to use Dina again in the future. We’ll see.
Our story begins with Dina receiving the one thing she can’t ignore – a message from her sister Maud. Maud is in big trouble. And she’s on a remote planet in the middle of the Holy Anocracy, which is vampire territory. So Dina sends out the equivalent of an intergalactic distress call to her vampire friend, Lord Arland of House Krahr. Dina needs his help to rescue her sister. And she’s more than willing to ignore Arland’s fascination with her in order to get it. Fortunately for Dina, her werewolf, Sean, is not willing to let Arland try to fascinate Dina without his presence.
And besides, the planet where Maud is marooned is completely lawless. It’s where the vampires send their castoffs and casteless. Dina is going to need both of them to rescue Maud.
Except its more of an extraction than a rescue. Maud is holding her own just fine, but she’s accomplished what she came to do and it’s time for her and her daughter to leave. Even though Maud is human, just like a good vampire wife she has taken vengeance on all of her late and actually unlamented husband’s killers. It’s time for her to go.
And while Dina is relieved to get Maud back to earth, along with Maud’s daughter (and Dina’s niece) Helen, Arland is absolutely mesmerized. Maud’s combination of human frailties with vampire sensibilities is something he can’t resist. Maud’s doing plenty of resisting for both of them. And Sean is grateful to have Arland out of the competition for Dina. Not that the two alphas aren’t metaphorically, and occasionally literally, still pissing on trees to mark their respective territories.
But it’s a good thing that they have mostly settled their difference, because Dina is going to need all the help she can get. She’s received an offer that is much too good to be true. She can get an answer to her question about where to find her parents from an unimpeachable source. But in order to do so she has to accept the most literally noxious guests in the galaxy – and fend off their fiendishly devious and mindlessly fanatic killers. For as long as it takes.
Or as long as she can.
Escape Rating A: They say that blood is thicker than water, but Dina’s story proves that its not just the blood you share together, but also the blood you shed together. Because her mission in One Fell Sweep places the Gertrude Hunt in the middle of an all out war.
There is a lot of commentary hidden in this particular fight. Her guests are the Hiru. They have been hunted to extinction by the Draziri. For religious reasons. Or unreasons. The Draziri priesthood labeled the Hiru as anathema, and told their followers that killing a Hiru would wipe away the sins of the killer and all their ancestors, no matter how heinous the crime. Even killing a priest could be washed away by killing a Hiru.
And the Hiru are totally unobjectionable as people. They are kind and peaceloving. But their planet was destroyed by the Draziri, and they are biologically incapable of living anywhere else without environmental suits. The worst part is that these are truly awful environmental suits, and they apparently stink to high heaven. Which makes Hiru difficult guests at best, and dangerous at worst. Not because the Hiru do anything dangerous, but because the Draziri ruthlessly hunt them down wherever they go. And the fanatic Draziri do not give a damn about Earth’s neutrality or the possibility of exposing the inn network. They’ve already been banned from Earth altogether, and they ignore that prohibition as well. In pursuit of a Hiru, they have no scruples and no morals and will let nothing get between them and their target. Until Dina puts the Gertrude Hunt between the Draziri and her Hiru guests.
And all hell breaks loose.
Anyone who misses the commentary about the damage done by religious fanaticism and religious intolerance isn’t reading the same book the rest of us did. The lesson is sharp and brutal and the ending makes it stick with the reader long after the story is over.
Religion, particularly religious fanaticism, is a tremendous force. When it is turned towards evil, it is a terrible one. We all make our own gods. And all institutions protect themselves first.
One of the other things I loved about this particular installment of the series is that every single member of Dina’s family gets their chance to shine and to contribute to the fight. I also love the way that the author resolved the love triangle. That could have gone all sorts of wrong. Instead, we have the opportunity for another beautiful love story and one that makes sense in the context of the series.
A couple of thoughts about this particular book before I finish. The Hiru, at least in their environmental suits, are ugly in so many ways. The Draziri, on the other hand, are physically beautiful even if morally bankrupt. I’m not sure whether the appropriate aphorism is the one about “all the is gold does not glitter” or the one about “pretty is as pretty does, but ugly goes clean through to the bone”. Maybe both.
I have fallen in love with this series. I started Clean Sweep one night, and simply couldn’t let go until I had read the whole thing. These were books well worth staying up late to finish. And now I’m waiting, just like everyone else, for Ilona to begin serializing book 4 on her website, just as she did with the first three books. It will give me another reason to look forward to Fridays.
Blood is thicker than water, and family is more important than anything else. But that includes family of choice. Definitely and defiantly.