Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews


On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.


Dear Ilona Andrews,

“It doesn’t matter where you are from. You’re here now and it’s my job to protect you and everyone here. I’m doing my job and I don’t appreciate the drama. Something isn’t right with you and this property. Strange things happen around it. I don’t know what’s going on, but I will find out. You could make it easier on yourself by coming clean.”
“Sure. This is a magic bed-and –breakfast and the two guys in my kitchen are aliens from outer space.”
“Right.” Officer Marais turned. “I’ll let myself out.”

Oh Officer Marais, if you only knew. There are so many reasons why I enjoy the books written by Ilona Andrews’ writing team – intricate world building, action, humor, great characters, and have I mentioned humor — but when this story was published as a free serial on their website I ignored it even though it was not an easy task to do so. I cannot handle reading a story in bits in pieces especially if one of those bits and pieces will end up in a cliffhanger. I did not want to get irritated at the book for something which is clearly my issue and not the book’s fault, so I was hoping that one day they would publish this one as a single book. And when they finally did of course I bought it.

The world building in this book was *excellent*. I could not help but compare this book with the first book in my favorite series by these writers, the Kate Daniels series. Of course, that was their first book and it is not fair to compare the writing, but it is clear how far they have come – there is no info dump of any kind in this book. The information about this world is given to the reader when the story warrants it and no earlier, and the information fits the action and moves the action along. I am used to the authors using all kinds of mythologies and fantastic creatures in their books and using them to create original worlds, but in this book they did something even I did not expect. I have read a lot of books where vampires and werewolves played an important role, and I can honestly state that I did not think that it was possible to add anything original to the vampire and werewolf lores. I thought I had read it all. Well, they proved me wrong, apparently I had not.

As you can see from the blurb, Dina is an innkeeper with magical abilities who runs an unusual bed and breakfast. She decides to get involved because something terrible has happened, something which may put not only the lives of her guests but also those of her neighbors and even herself in danger. Apparently innkeepers of this world, which is very similar to the Earth of our time but with some additions have some unusual duties and responsibilities and can do interesting things. These Inns apparently exist in the several dimensions/realities at the same time and serve as Gateways to earth for the guests from other galaxies/worlds. Innkeepers’ first loyalties are to their guests and Inns and if I understood correctly more often than not they are neutral to everything else around them as long as it does not threaten their guests. But I am guessing that in the rare circumstances they can decide that neutrality be damned and join the fight as Dina did.

I thought Dina was awesome. I think the regular and magical part of her nature were blended really well and I just thought she was a very likeable human being, somebody who would be fun to have tea with, if I didn’t end up on her bad side. I liked that Dina was kind enough to try to help knowing that other people and animals could end up dead, but also knew when to ask for help from others. I thought that she had a great sense of humor and I loved her dog.

“Sean grabbed a young oak branch and jerked it off the three. Beast launched herself and he swung the branch like a bat, trying to knock her aside. With a sound somewhere between an upset wolverine and a pissed-off bobcat, Beast clamped on to the branch. Sean jerked it back and forth, trying to get her loose. Beast hung on and went airborne. Four rows of teeth crushed the wood – chomp-chomp-chomp—and Sean stumbled back, a stump of a branch in his hand.
Beast landed on her paws and bared her fangs, “Awwwwwreeeeeeoo!”
“Oh shit”.
“A moment later Beast trotted back, climbed the steps, squirmed through the dog door, and collapsed on the rug, exhausted.
I cuddled her up. “Best dog ever.”
Beast rubbed her face against my shirt and licked me”.

If you were to ask me whether there is a romance in this book, or whether the handsome werewolf and vampire are mentioned just for the fun of it, I would say that there is definitely flirting going on but nothing more than that yet. And yes, there is a Twilight joke at the end of the book.
“I suggest you give up now. According to my research, in a vampire-werewolf love triangle, the vampire always gets the girl”.

The blurb mentions Sean Evans, “the alpha strain werewolf” (I will let you to find out for yourself what “alpha strain” means, because going into that would be revealing some important spoilers), and the vampire soldier Armand, and both of these men seemed to me to be great potential candidates for Dina’s affection. To me it was clear that she was at least a little bit attracted to both of them.

This story is not a romance yet – sparks fly when Dina talks to them, and there is a kiss involved between her and one of the men, but nothing more than that. The guys and Dina are really busy in this book trying to take care of the threat, and there is no Romance ending. However, in the end note the authors say that they will be writing a sequel to this book in 2014, and if they decide to include a romantic storyline I think it would be really easy to throw it in, because I thought Dina had a great chemistry with both guys. Whether it will happen or not, I have no idea though.

I do not know how many books are planned in the series, but there are several potential storylines, because there are so many tantalizing loose ends left at the end, and I can’t wait for at least some of them to be explored. The characters in the story are all interesting, but all of them, even Dina, could use more development .There are some characters mentioned who could make guest appearances in upcoming installments and there are some characters whose fates are unknown, whose storylines could be resolved in the future. In other words, I think this is how a first book in the series should be written.

Grade: B+

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle


Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.


  1. Brian
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 09:09:34

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been wondering about this one a bit. Since it’s basically self published (through their agent) I’d wondered a bit about how the quality would be. Sounds like I’ll be picking this one up.

    Did you find the length okay? I see it’s a good bit shorter than their Kate books.

  2. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 09:18:32

    Brian I am not even sure that their agent had anything to do with it – I think they took weekly installments together and edited it and self published it. I was worried that it will feel choppy as complete book, but to me it did not. Who knows maybe others will feel differently. Any other questions quality wise did not occur to me because vast majority of the times their writing worked very well for me. Length was stated at 60000 words I believe and also I think Ilona mentioned on her blog that price is higher than usual – 4.99 because they had to pay the illustrator. Honestly I have no problem paying this price – I am used to 6.99 prices for m/m novels on the pretty regular basis but illustrations while beautiful did not really do much for me because they were mostly portraits of the main characters. To me illustrated book means more than that – I am used to illustrations portraying something that is happening in the book if that makes sense.

  3. MarieC
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 09:48:58

    Great review! The price for the book to was totally worth it for me, even though I read the free serial. With such great characters, I’m hoping Ilona and Andrew continue writing about this world.

  4. Amanda
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 10:05:41

    You mentioned all those tantalizing loose ends and I think thats what I loved most. It felt like there were so many great stories out there in this universe just waiting to be told.

  5. Brian
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 10:10:50

    @Sirius: The publisher is listed as NYLA, which is Nancy Yost Literary Agency. They’ve been pubbing various works from the authors they represent.

    I missed the part where it was previously a serial. Normally that would be a turn off as I’ve read very few that worked out well for me, but being that it’s from an author I like a lot I think I’m going to buy it. Glad to know it doesn’t feel choppy. I have no problem with the price, my comment on length was more about that they had more words to develop their world & characters in their other stories.

  6. Lada
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 10:12:17

    @Sirius: “Length was stated at 60000 words I believe and also I think Ilona mentioned on her blog that price is higher than usual – 4.99 because they had to pay the illustrator. I had a problem with this. I bought this story because I did read and enjoy the serial on their website and knew they had hired an editor to help them clean up the story and had added to the story. But I for one didn’t care for the illustrations and wish there had been a less expensive option offered sans pictures. The authors chose to hire an illustrator (apparently based on fangirl encouragement) but this addition did nothing for me and I’m a little resentful that I had to pay for that.

    It is a great story though and highlights the incredible world building talent of the authors.

  7. JenM
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 10:17:09

    Even though I absolutely hate the serial format, I read it that way, because c’mon, it’s Ilona Andrews and I will read anything they write. Now that it’s published, I bought it for a couple of reasons – mainly, I want to encourage them to keep going with the story, and I also heard there was a bit of new material added to round the story out. I also love that since this is self-pubbed, they get to keep a large chunk of the proceeds.

  8. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 10:39:35

    JenM – I believe epilogue was added and one more chapter? Not sure. I won’t read a serial format even from my most beloved authors :), that’s why I waited. But the wait was certainly worth it for me .

  9. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 11:06:35

    Brian thanks for letting me know – I have no idea why they had to put their agent as a publisher but I am sure there are reasons for that? Characters, well I felt that there was plenty of room for character development – even for three main characters, but if this is the beginning of the new series I have no problem with that. World and action engaged me that much and being in Dina’s head was fun.

  10. Readsalot81
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 11:54:27

    Although I’m a huge fan of team Andrews, I was somewhat dubious when I heard they were doing a serial. I’m not a fan of that format at all. Whatsoever. So it wasn’t really hard to stay away when they had it up. But when it went for sale, I happily made the purchase. The illustrations are meh, I don’t love it or hate it. But the story itself stands alone without them just fine. They also made the book lendable. Which is very nice, as quite a few self pubbers don’t choose to *utilize* that option. If you’re still on the fence, give me a shout, and I’ll happily loan out mine :)

  11. Karen
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 12:22:42

    Thanks for the review! I really want to read this, but I’m still on the fence. With Ilona Andrews, I’d rather own the print edition and while the book in print (and e-format, for that matter) isn’t too expensive for me, I fear I will hate the way it looks, making it an expensive purchase. I’m also not a fan of illustrations in a novel, so paying the extra money for the e-book version because there are illustrations I don’t want, puts me off. Does anyone know/think/suspect this series will be picked up by a traditional publisher and published without illustrations?

    I had no idea what the “Lendme” meant on each of the e-books I recently purchased. Does it mean I can loan my book to friends? Thanks.

  12. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 12:25:47

    @Readsalot81: That’s a great point about lending. Mine is lendable too, so if anybody wants and has a kindle of course, let me know :).

  13. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 12:26:46

    @Amanda: I know, right? Her brother, her parents, Shawn’s future adventures – so many things I want to know more about :).

  14. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 12:29:45

    @Karen: I have no idea whether the book would be picked up by traditional publisher, but if I were to speculate, I am not sure why they would want to do it – it seems to be selling very well as is, you know?

    There are not that many illustrations at all – four or five, if I remember correctly for the whole book.

  15. Meljean
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 13:36:32

    I’m curious, because I’m still always trying to figure out what does/doesn’t seem like an acceptable price for self-published books:

    For those who resent paying extra for the illustrations — if Andrews had simply put the price point at $4.99 without explaining why she did, would that same resentment be there? $4.99 seems like a reasonable price (to me) for a full-length story, especially of the quality that she writes.

    So is it only because you *know* that there might be an extra dollar tacked on to pay for the illustrations? Or is $4.99 just too much to pay?

  16. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 13:49:09

    @Meljean: Just to clarify, I do not resent the price per se at all, as I said I pay at least couple dollars more for novels published by the m/m publishers on a pretty regular basis. But I know that a lot of readers who read m/m walk away from 6.99 prices which is pretty typical in m/m world and for self published stories will not pay more than , I don’t know, 2.99-3.99. As you said, this is a writing team of a very high caliber, so I hope it is not too high for other readers. However, I think that yes, I would have preferred not to know that there was a price increase for illustrations simply because to me illustrated book means much more illustrations and much more substantive illustrations. I remember thinking when I was reading a book – where are other illustrations of some action scenes, etc and when I closed the story, thinking – that was it?. I would imagine the price would have been even higher obviously for more illustrations, but really – just the portraits may as well not be there as far as I am concerned.

  17. Karen
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 13:54:57

    Meljean, I bought my first e-reader a month ago, so e-books are very new to me. To be honest, I don’t trust this e-world yet. E-books simply don’t feel like they are mine, and I don’t want to pay more than $1.99 for them…yet. I’ve been filling my library with e-books on sale for $1.99. (I did pay the full $3.99 for the Viv Daniels YA.)

    Right now, $4.99 is too much for me, mainly because I fear crashes, erased books, weird situations like what happened with Amazon’s Kindle and MacMillan Books years ago (didn’t Amazon erase everyone’s MacMillan books when they were in disagreement with them?)

    If I read a book I’ve paid $1.99 for, and then it is erased/deleted/removed, I will still feel as if I’ve been entertained and the $2 hasn’t been wasted. But to lose an e-book I’ve paid $5 or more for would feel like money lost.

    But as far as Clean Sweep is concerned, I would much rather have it as a physical book, as I noted in my original comment, and would probably pay the $10.99 for it without the illustrations. As an e-book, I’d buy it for $2.99 or less with the illustrations.

  18. Li
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 13:57:00

    It’s on Amazon UK for £2.49 (which is around $4), which I thought was a reasonable price (illustrations or not). I stayed away from the serial (thought it would be frustrating as I’d want the whole story NOW), and agree with Sirius that the story didn’t feel choppy. I think the word count is about category romance length, if that helps anyone.

    I loved the link to the Edge world – thought that was a nice bonus for long-term fans!

  19. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:03:59

    Hey guys, I just realized that couple of sentences have gone missing from my review with all the copying from word, so apologies for screwed up formatting of one of the paragraphs. I am just afraid to change anything else to make it worse :).

  20. Brian
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:04:20

    You can get it for $2.50 from Kobo with code 50dec right now. AFAIK that code was supposed to expire a few days ago so I don’t know how long it will be active.

  21. Brian
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:09:53

    @Karen: No Amazon didn’t erase everyone’s Macmillan books. You were unable to buy new ones for a while, but never lost anything you’d already bought. If you’re really worried about it in general read up on Calibre and Apprentice Alf.

  22. Brian
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:20:00

    Having now bought it I definitely could have done without the illustrations. IMO their placement will just interfere with the flow of the story. Since they’re just portraits putting them as a gallery at the end would have been better. All the same I’m looking forward to reading it.

    It’s also too bad they felt the need to use DRM on it. :-(

  23. Mary
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 14:52:05

    I read this as it was being posted on their website, and absolutely loved it. Each time there was a new chapter posted it made my day!
    However, while I appreciate that the Andrews love the illustrations, I don’t really want them because I prefer to have characters look the way they look in my head- even if that’s different from how the author pictures them. That’s why I’ve never been one to complain or care about cover art.
    That being said, 4.99 seems like a reasonable price with or without illustrations, so I’m not gonna complain.

  24. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 15:26:34

    @Li: I thought that link to Edge world was amusing too, even if I liked the Edge much less than Kate Daniels books. I liked first and second book, a lot in the third book irritated me and I did not even bother buying the fourth book.

  25. MaryK
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 15:30:13

    I’m glad they pubbed this story. I avoided it when it was a serial because serials aren’t a good format for me. I was happy to buy it as a completed ebook.

  26. leslie
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 15:30:37

    Loved the serial…..bought both editions…..illustrations are pretty darn good.
    I can’t believe the gumpiness over a few pictures!!
    Interrupts the flow???
    Gee Whiz.

  27. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 15:32:30

    I am glad you enjoyed the illustrations leslie. I could take them or leave them, in their current form leave them is a better choice for me. I still love the story though.

  28. Sirius
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 15:36:52

    @Karen: If you would like a loan, I will be happy to send you my book, just let me know.

  29. Brian
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 16:05:24

    @leslie: Yes, interrupts the flow. It’s fine if they work for you. For me having a picture taking up the next page, in the middle of a chapter, when I’m expecting the next paragraph of the story interrupts things for me. Sorry that seems to annoy. :shrug:

    I am glad to see them trying something a bit different by having the illustrations, in this case it just didn’t work for me as well as I would like.

  30. Lada
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 16:42:25

    @Meljean: I’ll admit I think $4.99 is high for such a short story though I’m coming to appreciate the work authors put into shorter works. But $5 feels high for something that took me just about an hour to read. Knowing about the unnecessary pictures didn’t help. But I made the decision to buy because I like supporting authors I enjoy and am even willing to pay more for something that I know has been edited. I feel easier with the $2.99 range for shorter work (which I believe yours are generally priced) but don’t know if that’s a fair price for authors or not.

  31. MrsJoseph
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 18:28:51

    I loved, loved, loved it! It was a great serial (and I never read serials) and it was an even better book. There are small changes to the book that make it completely worth the price.

    Because I was reading the serial I really appreciate the book and the illustrations. During the serial they gave different photos and we enjoyed them. Considering that it was the *fangurls* that talked them into actually publishing, yall should be ok with the Andrews giving the fangurls what we want.

    There is a print version available via CreateSpace. I’ve ordered a copy which should be here by next week so I don’t know the quality of that yet.

  32. Regina (
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 21:32:04


    I can see how the illustrations wouldn’t work for everyone, but I did like them for me it added depth to the story. Even absent the illustrations though, and of course just in my opinion, this book is worth $4.99. It is a solidly written and developed story. Additionally, Ilona Andrews gives so much to their fans — so many free snippets and POVs. That for me, when I look at it in total, the $4.99 seems fair.

  33. Regina (
    Jan 02, 2014 @ 21:37:17


    I echo what Brian wrote, no Amazon did not erase anyone’s books in that manner. What happened was a vendor was selling a book through Amazon via ebook and it did not have the rights to sell it. Amazon, pursuant to copyright laws, had to remove the book — and did so without notifying its customers first. But offered everyone a credit in the amount that was spent — and they could use it to buy the same book if they wanted to. If you simply google Kindle Amazon 1984 erase book you will get the story. I am 4.5 years into this ebook thing and no vendor has erased my books. :)

  34. Gloria
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 20:01:47

    Thanks to this review I bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I might have a new favorite author, thank you very much!

  35. Anne
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 01:32:21

    I don’t like serials much either, but I did read this one, as I enjoy the writers’ work so much. Part of the fun of reading the serial was reading the comments by both the readers and the writers. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to buy the ebook. I don’t find the price to be out of line at all, either with or without illustrations.
    The world building and character development in this story were fascinating, and I’m looking forward to further instalments. Of Ilona Andrews’ series, the Kate Daniels one is my favorite, but I’ve enjoyed all but one of their other works. So far, they’ve managed to create entirely different worlds, societies and creatures for all of their series, with the only constant being strong primary characters.

  36. Sirius
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 08:25:39

    Gloria, I envy you if you have not read anything else by these authors :-). Happy reading.

  37. Stacey
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 08:34:10

    Once I know an author is good, I will happily pay $5 for a short novel, self-published or not. It’s not a good price if you’re trying to introduce readers to your work, but if you (Meljean) were to self-pub a similar book, I would pay $5 for it without a second thought because I know I will most likely enjoy it. I had no problem paying for this one, either. It’s another 2 or 3 bucks people, less than most Starbucks coffees, and totally worth paying to know that you’re not going to be stuck trying to read something crappy, and to support the writers whose work you like so they can quit their job at the post office and write more books. God only knows, I had to bail on a conventionally published book last night because the writing was so bad.

  38. Sirius
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 21:24:45

    Hey guys I have a question for those of you who call this one a short story. I am asking for my own education – not trying to argue whether price is high or not. I just double checked and at least one online definition lists the average length of the novel as 60000 – 100000 words. This one is listed as 60000 words and since it is on the lower side it is listed as short novel. How 60000 words can remotely count as a short story? Thanks.

  39. Karen
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:35:14

    @Sirius: Thank you so much for the offer, but I’ll wait a bit and possibly buy it in the future. I bought about 30 books for my Nook since November and downloaded another 30 free classics, so I can keep myself busy reading until I decide whether to pull the trigger. Thanks, again.

  40. Karen
    Jan 05, 2014 @ 12:55:02

    @Brian: I found a few articles about Amazon’s dispute with MacMillan in 2010. Dear Author wrote about it on January 29, 2010 (I’m not sure how to link to it.) A commenter from that post thought some her MacMillan books were removed, then later noted they weren’t. I’m positive it had been reported (possibly incorrectly) that purchased books had been removed or disappeared. I remember having this conversation with many people at the time because we were all glad we hadn’t purchased ebooks. I’m glad to know that isn’t the case and I can feel a bit more confident about my purchases.

    As for spending $4.99 for an e-book by a fave author, I love the Kate Daniels series. I did not like The Edge series. That is another reason I’m not sure about trying Clean Sweep at its current price.

  41. Sirius
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 17:28:25

    Karen, no worries. If you end up getting it let me know what you thought :).

  42. MrsJoseph
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 12:26:39


    It’s not a short story at all. It’s a short novel. A lot of people have become accustomed to novels = 200 plus pages but that’s just a trend, not the definition.

    The Andrews made it perfectly clear that the length of the book had to be 60K or below due to preexisting contracts they had.

  43. MrsJoseph
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 12:28:17


    I would suggest checking out the clean sweep site. There is a excerpt there that is about 3 chapters long (I think). You get a pretty good idea of Dina’s powers and the beginning of the action from it.

  44. 'Clean Sweep' Audio Book A Clever Collaboration between Author and Narrator
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 00:30:21

    […] audio book bloggers Goodreads, The Audio Gals,  Dear Author,, Anne Reviews, and reviewed Clean Sweep, praising the […]

%d bloggers like this: