Short, action-packed urban fantasy with a twist

Clean Sweep - Ilona Andrews

I've read Ilona Andrews' Edge Series & her Kate Daniels series-- both are good, but I've set them aside as getting a bit formulaic and me needing a break.  


Clean Sweep was something new from this husband/wife writing duo.  Apparently it was a serial online, and has since been published-- it's a novella, 164 pages, and it sweeps you along accordingly.  


There's more humor than in some of Andrews' prior writing, both in the heroine's own sense of humor and less of a sense of self-pity for her (genre convention) sad backstory, as well as in the setting & side characters who populate this novella.  What I enjoyed, though, was that I expected Urban Fantasy and ended up with a strong dose of Sci-Fi and Clarke's Third Law/Speculation done quickly & well, with enough details to let you feel like there was world building and ooh, cool, aliens, without bogging the novella down in too much detail. 


This is in many ways a conventional genre read/first in series book, although unlike Daniels' Edge & Daniels series, the romance is more under the surface & G-rated, which I happened to like.  The focus was more on the action and the characters' particular personal challenges that had to be solved, not True Love ALSO winning the day.  So... you have:  Spunky heroine with a tragic backstory coming into her powers is faced with a challenge & must figure out how to negotiate it while coming into contact & conflict with attractive ego-driven supernatural/alien males (who need to be taken down a peg over the run of the book) and not running afoul of the various powers that be as well as her own principles. Add in some really neat worldbuilding details, a really enjoyable set of amoral/clueless side characters who I hope become series regulars, and some truly interesting moments of self-reflection, morality, ruminations on what it means to be a neutral, not to mention consideration of humans' insignificant place in the universe in & among some of the fourth-wall busting of the werewolf/"witch"/vampire love triangle that (SPOILER) I am glad doesn't take off, because there's so much going on in the heroine's life that I would have felt disappointed if that was how the book had ended.  


But end it did, and with a good vibe for the heroine (my recent problem with books has been that Love Solves Everything and here, it was the much more satisfactory & feminist Kicking Butt and Asking for Help and Demanding Answers Gets You Someplace, even if you're still single) & lots of possibility for the future.  


I am relieved, however, to find that Ch. 1 of the next book is already up on the authors' website.