by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kinsmen #3
Also in this series: The Kinsmen Universe
Publication Date: November 23, 2021
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
An uneasy alliance between warring families gets heated in this otherworldly novella from bestselling author Ilona Andrews.
At first glance, the planet Rada seems like a lush paradise. But the ruling families, all boasting genetically enhanced abilities, are in constant competition for power―and none more so than the Adlers and the Baenas. For generations, the powerful families have pushed and pulled each other in a dance for dominance.
Until a catastrophic betrayal from within changes everything.
Now, deadly, disciplined, and solitary leaders Ramona Adler and Matias Baena must put aside their enmity and work together in secret to prevent sinister forces from exploiting universe-altering technology. Expecting to suffer through their uneasy alliance, Ramona and Matias instead discover that they understand each other as no one in their families can―and that their combined skills may eclipse the risks of their forbidden alliance.
As the two warriors risk their lives to save their families, they must decide whether to resist or embrace the passion simmering between them. For now, the dance between their families continues―but just one misstep could spell the end of them both.
Folks, folks, folks! This is an enemies-to-lovers fated-mates trope, if the fated connection made the couple unstoppable killing machines. From the moment I heard there was a new Kinsmen novella coming out, I was ridiculously excited. And when the Luisa J. Preissler cover art came out? Pretty much incoherent (and yes, in case you were wondering, that is an actual scene from the book). While I would highly recommend reading the other two novellas first, there’s enough backstory given that I think it would work as a standalone.
“It was one of the universe’s great ironies that after running half across the galaxy to get away from each other, both the Baenas and the Addlers ended up in the same sector, on the same planet, and in the same province.”
The Addlers and Baenas have been enemies since the end of the war six generations ago that created the secare, genetically modified people with the ability to generate nanotech blades and shields, called seco, from their arms. As they both occupy sections of New Delphi on the planet Rada, it makes life a little interesting, but for the most part, they’ve settled into a sort of cold war. Until Ramona Addler shows up unexpected at Matias Baena’s office with devastating – and infuriating – news. Their spouses have absconded – together – with information that could wreck both their families, they’re forced to work together to recover them. It soon becomes clear, however, that they need to save not only their families’ livelihoods, but possibly the entire sector.
“He wanted to keep looking at her.
He wondered how fast she was.
He wondered if he was faster.”
Is it possible come up with an angstier trope than enemies to fated lovers? Because, oof, this novella is packed to the brim. While the families are not directly engaged in hostilities, they’re both in a research race for technology that would drastically enrich whichever family figures it out first. And while both Ramona and Matias do care about ensuring the continuation and financial viability of their families, this wouldn’t be an Ilona Andrews book without multiple layers of meaning. They both have other very good reasons for wanting to control it, reasons that add even more angst. As the respective heads of their families, both Ramona and Matias are competent, loyal, absolutely lethal – and lonely. They both understand that being the head of a kinsmen family, especially one in a research armsrace, is a stifling, exhausting and thankless job. There’s all sorts of angst as they realize they’re really quite similar, and though they are seriously attracted to each other, they can’t act on that attraction because they’re still married to their idiot cheating spouses. Oh, and their families would happily murder each other. Because the other thing that they understand about themselves and each other – they’re weapons. While they don’t resort indiscriminately to violence, they also have no qualms about defending themselves or their families, and that’s something that they each deeply admire in the other.
“Silver Shark” will always be one of my favorites, but it’s amazing how much the authors have improved in ten years, from the depth of characterization to the battles. The fight scenes are absolute perfection, if by perfection you mean intricately choreographed carnage with a high body count. The final battle in particular is absolutely exquisite with an unbelievable emotional payoff. The world of the Kinsmen gets a little more fleshed out, too. There’s a little more of New Delphi and Dahlia province, including a bit of the wilds between cities. Which, without being too spoilery, is one of my absolute favorite parts, considering it showcases both each individual character’s growth, their attraction for each other, and some of that fighting.
”Go forth, brave heroes, track down the traitors, and recover your data so you can pay me. I wouldn’t recover the spouses, however. Seems like a lost cause.”
Overall, the best way to say how I feel about this book? When I saw it was available, I immediately dropped everything and inhaled the book in one sitting, paused for sleep and kid stuff, and then read it again. Highly recommended, and I desperately hope that this is the start of many more novellas set in this universe!