It’s Ilona Andrews; of course Sweep in Peace is good. Interesting story, nice pace, great characterization – objectively I should give this 4-4.5 stars. But, I love Dina, the MC, so much and it’s my prerogative so 5-stars it is. I could take the next few minutes and tell you about the surprises that Andrews included, the emotion or the fantastic world-building. Instead, here is a snippet from Dina’s POV showing my recent visit to her magical B&B (it’s all in my head of course and that’s okay, I’m not crazy. Really!):
I heard a chime that indicated our guest was arriving at the front door. My inn was nervous as she was anytime a non-magical human came to visit. I quietly assured her that this had been cleared. Even though our visitor didn’t have any magical talents herself, she was well aware of the vampires, shifters and others in the worlds we live in. As a lifelong reader she knew many of the old stories. And, when she accidentally saw a shifter change forms, she was somehow able to convince her to both not kill her and introduce her to others. (Did I say she didn’t have magical talent? We might need to look a little closer, on second thought.)
Taking a deep breath and hoping that Caldenia would stay in her room as I asked, I opened the door. “Welcome to Gertrude Hunt, Mary. Glad tidings and warm sunshine. Do you need any help with your luggage?”
“Glad tidings and warm sunshine to you as well, Dina. It’s so nice to finally meet you in person. I’ve heard many wonderful things about you and your Inn. Don’t worry about the bag; I’ve got it. I’m only here one night and didn’t need much other than a change of clothes and my books.”
As we walked, I asked Mary about the trip here and noted her nervousness. While she knew about magic, she still seemed a little apprehensive about being surrounded by walls of it. We made small talk and worked our way up the stairs as I made a few adjustments to the room I had prepared. It was clear that Mary needed comfort and that something was not right in her world. A desk with a view of the apple orchard came to mind so I created space and added a large wooden Amish desk with plenty of room. I tweaked the bedding as well. More pillows and soft bamboo sheets. There, that should do it.
We reached the room and I felt a little nervous myself. Even though my primary responsibility as an Innkeeper is my guest’s safety, their comfort is a close second. Creating the right room for someone you barely know is always the hardest part.
“Here is your room, Mary.” I opened the door and she stopped dead in her tracks. Uh-oh.
“How? How did you do this?” She finally stepped into the room and dropped her bag. Walking to the bed, she ran her hands along with down comforter and then along one of the posts. The bookshelf was next and I could tell that she was hesitant.
“Go ahead, these books are yours to enjoy during your stay. You can pull out any of them.”
I saw her select Alice in Wonderland, then her eyes went straight to a first edition of And Then There Were None. Walking to the desk, she set the books on top and looked out the window.
“Thank you, Dina. I don’t know how you knew but thank you. I’ve had writer’s block for over a month and have been afraid to even walk into my office. I finally decided to take a trip hoping it would clear my mind.” Turning back to me, she said, “I think you’ve done the impossible.”
“I’m just an Innkeeper. It’s part of the job.” Leaving her to unpack, I reminded her that dinner would be at 7:00. Orro had something special planned for our human guest.
About an hour later, I was in the den with a book of my own and a cup of tea. I could feel the Inn practically humming. ‘What is it, Gertrude?’ She showed me a quick peek into Mary’s room – she was at the desk, typing furiously with the happiest smile I had seen in a while. I patted the wall and told Gertrude to give Mary her privacy but I couldn’t hide my own smile.
When we all met in the dining room for dinner at 7:00, Mary was beaming but again seemed a little nervous.
“How was your afternoon, Mary? Is there anything I can get you?”
“My afternoon was wonderful and the room is everything. But, I do have a question.” Mary smiled at me and said, “I know I was only cleared for one night and this may not be possible but, Dina, can I stay for a few more days? There is something here that I need right now.”
Gertrude was nudging me through our magical tie and I knew that we both agreed. “Stay as long as you want, Mary. We have plenty of room and will love having you here.”
The door opened and Caldenia walked in. As I introduced the two women, I wondered if Mary would want to stay after she saw Caldenia eat a chicken leg in about five seconds with her sharp teeth. Crossing my fingers that all would be okay, I asked Orro to serve the first course.