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 things for itself. Meant to be lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristrocrat 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 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--and 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 cost her everything.
This was my very first Ilona Andrews novel but it won't be my last. From the first page I was sucked into the world that the authors created. Dina is a magical innkeeper who's sentient bed and breakfast hosts beings from across the galaxies. We only meet a few such characters in this book which worked for me as it kept me from getting overwhelmed and/or confused. Two of the "others" that we meet, the werewolf and the vampire have fascinating histories and cultural norms that I really enjoyed learning about. I also loved the humor that was introduced through the dialogue that was another tool used to allow me to connect with the characters even when they were not of this world.
As an innkeeper, Dina should remain neutral but with a predator attacking her neighbors' dogs and her inquiry that the local werewolf do something about it being ignored, she feels that she must step in to preserve the secrecy of the (literally) alien things happening. When the werewolf, Sean, gets wind of her interference he isn't happy about it. The first few scenes with Sean had him being much more foe than friend, but watching that slowly change was enjoyable. Adding in Arland just upped the yum by a factor of ten. The inn itself is another rich character that was fascinating--I loved Dina's relationship with her inn (and vice versa). And her broom? Too cool!
This book had an amazing balance of world building, which was so smoothly and richly done...some areas had tons of details while others (like Her Grace's character) had fewer but the overall tone was one in which I never felt lost. I also enjoyed the humor, the romance, and the action. This book really did have it all...I am happy that I am catching this series towards the beginning stages so I feel like I am getting in on something special at the ground floor but I am also disappointed that there aren't ten books that I can glom one after the other. As it is, as soon as I finished the last page, I immediately visiting my library's web site to put book two on hold.