Series: VAMPIRE CHEF MYSTERIES
Plot Type: CH
Ratings: V3; S2; H3
Publisher and Titles: Obsidian
A Taste of the Nightlife (7/2011)
Let Them Eat Stake (4/2012)
This is a light and fluffy chick lit series with a human heroine whose restaurant, Nightlife, caters to the supernatural gourmands in Manhattan. Thirty-year-old Charlotte Caine is a master chef who has found her calling in "haute noir" dining—the preparation of liquid nourishment for vampires (aka nightbloods) and raw-meat-based meals for shifters. In this world, vampires can digest liquids other than blood, but no solids. Charlotte's brother, Chet, is the fanged one in the family, but Charlotte herself is a nonmagical human. In this world, nonmagical people—those who are not witches, werewolves, undead, or otherwise inherently magical—are called T-typs, an abbreviation for thauma-typical. As the series begins, Chet is handling Nightlife's books and managing the customers while Charlotte and her kitchen crew dish up the meals.
In this world, supernaturals have existed in an uneasy peace with the human population for 25 years, ever since the Change Time, when paranormals came out to the public. Soon after that, the Equal Humanity Acts was passed, which recognized vamps, shifters, and other "human derived paranormal peoples" as "people," but included strict regulations requiring the registration of all paranormals and mandated official fang impressions for werewolves and nightbloods. Unfortunately, a vociferous and sometimes violent group of supernatural haters is always trying to do them harm. Witches, in particular, would like to get rid of the other supernaturals, especially the vampires.
As Charlotte gets pulled into the murder investigation, she finds that she has two strong, handsome, sexy allies who are as different from one another as they could possibly be: Brendan Maddox is a security expert and a warlock who comes from a long line of famous witches, and he is a cousin of the murdered man. Anatole Sevarin is an ancient Russian vampire who writes a food column for the local vampire newspaper, and he seems to have an excessive fascination with the details of the murder. In addition to their interest in solving the murder, both men are also quite interested in pursuing a closer relationship with Charlotte. (In this book, the sensuality goes no further than innuendo and passionate kisses.) Unfortunately for Charlotte, she has one more man looking closely at her and her restaurant: Detective Linus O'Grady of the Paranormal Squadron (PS) of the New York City Police Department. O'Grady is certain that Charlotte and Chet know more than they are telling him. He's wrong about Charlotte; she hasn't got a clue about what's going on. But Chet is another story. Soon enough, Charlotte learns that Chet has been lying to her about a number of important things.
As clues come and go, as questions get asked and answered (some honestly, some not), and as more people join the ranks of suspects, the plot is as energized as a pan of popping corn. Parts of the resolution are telegraphed before they are revealed, but other parts are a complete surprise. This is definitely a book that you want to read straight through because of the complexity of the plot.