Quincie's family resturant is undergoing renovations. Not only will it be an Italian resturant, but a vampire-themed Italian resturant. However, that's not the only part of Quincie's life that seems to be changing, either. First of all, a dear friend of hers gets murdered. Kieren, her werewolf love interest, seems suspicious. But Quincie knows he will have to go and find a pack soon, leaving her behind. Though this saddens Quincie, she seems to get her mind off it by getting the new chef ready for the reopening of the resturant.
Somehow, all these things are connected. But will Quincie figure it all out in time?
Tantalize screamed at me in the bookstore when I thought I should pick up something quick and fun to read. Okay, fine, I'll admit that Annette Curtis Klaus' blub on the back of the book helped in my decision-making, but still, Tantalize looked like just the paranormal book I was in the mood for. But, as with many books that are simply meant to delight and entertain, Tantalize had a number of good points and bad points.
Ironically, one thing that stood out about Tantalize is that even though it's paranormal, it flows like a contemporary book. Readers are in the rather realistic day-to-day setting that is Quincie's life, with the exception of her werewolf best friend/love interest and the climax. I liked that. Why is this ironic? Because the only time I've read a paranormal book that was written in a way that reminded me of contemporary novels was when I read Annette Curtis Klaus' The Silver Kiss and Blood and Chocolate.
But, I'm not saying that Annette Curtis Klaus fans are garunteed to love Tantalize, because I'm a fan of her books and I didn't love Tantalize. Sure, it's not terrible, but it's not... not that great.
The typos in the beginning didn't bother me too much, but what really made this book suffer was the plot and characters. Unfortunately, I didn't really like any of the characters, except for one of Quincie's possible love interests. Of course, that guy turned out to be a cliche psycho. As far as the rest of them, Kieren wasn't quite there enough, Quincie's uncle and girlfriend are just too negatively strange, attempts at sexiness from anyone came off as bizarre, and Quincie was just vulnerable.
Worse yet, the plot remained predictable and corny. I predicted the antagonist, and the corny bits often came from the antagonist (once this person had been revealed).
On the bright side, I enjoyed the resturant setting in which the characters were in majority of the time. It was quite refreshing, as I don't even think I've ever read a story in a resturant setting before. And besides, Italian is my favorite. The best part about this resturant, however, is the vampire theme. Plenty of people would go to a resturant like that in real life, so why isn't there one? This element contributed to what made this story fun.
Another thing a bit unusual about Tantalize is the werepeople. No, this book isn't just limited to werewolves and vampires, but it expands to other shape shifters, like cats and opossums! When it came to this aspect, it took me a while to understand that Quincie wasn't the only one who knew about these shape shifters, for they are actually quite commonplace in the world Cynthia Leitich Smith envisions. Usually in paranormal romance, the paranormal elements are some huge secret, so this was different. Although I don't like opossums, let alone wereopossums.
In the end, Tantalize proved itself to be a semi-entertaining novel with ups and plenty of downs. So, I don't reccommend this unless one is seeking a little non-serious vampire fiction that's enough to keep the pages turning.
Leitich Smith, Cynthia. Tantalize
Cambridge: Candlewick Press