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7.02.2011

Review: A Taste of the Nightlife by Sarah Zettel

A Taste of the Nightlife (A Vampire Chef Mystery #1) by Sarah Zettel
Mystery, Vampires, Magic
Mass Market Paperback $7.99 (320 pages, SIGNET)
Ebook $7.99

Charlotte Caine isn't called "the Vampire Chef" because she's a member of New York's undead community-she just cooks for them. Her restaurant, Nightlife, is poised to take the top slot in the world of "haute noir" cuisine.
But when a drunk customer causes a scene, a glowing review from the city's top food critic doesn't seem likely-especially when that customer winds up dead on Nightlife's doorstep. Now, with her brother under suspicion for the murder, Charlotte has to re-open her restaurant and clear her brother's name-before they both become dinner.

Author Site: www.sarahzettel.com

Scrumptious Paranormal Palate Pleaser for the Epicurian Mystery Reader (5 stars)

Until a warlock from a prominent family was found slain in the restaurant's foyer, "Haute noir" chef Charlotte Caine's biggest concern was impressing NYC's top vampire food critic and keeping Nightlife's crew paid. Now she's dodging murder accusations, trying to get her restaurant reopened and somehow prove that she and her vampire brother, Chet, aren't using the place to "blood launder".

With NYC's Paranormal Squadron following her every move her only help comes from a handsome warlock with family ties to the victim and a very ancient, eloquent vampire turned food critic. As the plot thickens and suspicion shifts, Charlotte's restaurant isn't the only thing facing its demise.

Ahhhh! What a delicious book. Combining two things this reader has a passion for in life, great food and paranormal elements in fiction, Zettel pulls off one satisfying blend of genres. Admittedly, the concept of Vampire Chef Mysteries comes off as cheesy (no pun intended). Zettel's world building, however, takes what seems silly and blends the ideas into a plausible, dark delight. The mystery element, while key to the plot, at times gets a little overshadowed by the gourmand details but if you're a foodie you'll love the attention to detail.

Charlotte is an exceptional character. There are a very small handful of characters I'd call favorites and she's joining them. The protective older sister, the girl so devoted to her career she has scars, the boss who puts the needs of her staff first. I think readers with strong protective and maternal instincts will find her personality very relatable. Meanwhile, her potential beaus are both sexy and intelligent, each the sort of alpha male who doesn't completely bulldoze the girl or growl "mine" at the competition. I'll admit a partiality to Anatole with his elegant graces but Brendan is quite charming too.

Honestly I thought blending paranormal elements into a foodie mystery was going to fall flat on its face but somehow the unique flavors of each come together like the strange mix of curry and coconut in my favorite chocolate bar (Theo Chocolate)... they probably won't work for everyone but will be cultishly popular with others. I'd highly recommend this novel to Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance readers who're looking for something fresh and fun to break them out of a reading rut. While mystery readers who love cozies and cooking mysteries might also enjoy this the paranormal elements do overshadow the chef elements through most of the storyline so if you don't like vampire books I'd suggest passing. Overall I absolutely LOVED this book and immediately added Let Them Eat Stake, the 2nd installment in the series which releases in Spring 2012, on my wishlist.

Other Reviews:

Notes: ARC received from Publisher as requested.

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