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on March 29, 2007
Amazon recommended this book to me, so I decided to check it out. The cover art immediately drew my eye, as well as the title. "Tantalize" by Cynthia Leitich Smith has an interesting premise. The main character is Quincie Morris, a regular girl with a werewolf bestfriend. Well, they'd like to be more than friends, but let's not get into that... Quincie's uncle has decided to remodel the family restaurant with a vampire them. It's going swimmingly until the head chef is found dead; the police suspect a werewolf to be the culprit.

I agree with some of the other reviewers who stated that the first half of the book was the best. I liked Kieren, and wished we had seen more of him. The new chef, Brad, was a pretty good character, and his two menus (Predator and Prey) for the restaurant were neat. I'm not sure what bugged me about the end of the book. Again, I agree with other reviewers when they say it isn't on par with Twilight. I think it was kind of in the middle of serious and lighthearted which confused me. One minute people are joking around, and the next minute somebody else is dead. And after the first death (of the head chef), none of the characters really seemed to care.

I'm not sure I'd recommend this to somebody else. If you're looking for serious vampire/werewolf stories, check out Stephenie Meyer's books. If you'd like lighthearted vampire/werewolf stories, check out books by Charlaine Harris. Specifically the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series: Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 1)
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on May 16, 2007
I'm not the one to prejudice books based on title or other reviews here - but I feel compelled to review this one... and with that help people save their money. Smith's writing is great - she articulates Quincie's thoughts and attitudes beautifully without being obvious, but I also noticed the type was huge and the pages were small... it kind of told me that the book was not all that long. Quincie's an honest to god Texan girl with red cowboy boots and the protagonist of this novel. She's connected to the 'otherworldly' side of life through her best friend, Kieren, who's a hybrid werewolf. I'm not going to summarize this book.

The first half of Tantalize was great, I loved Quincie's open mind and attitude. The story was sound - a new take on vampires and shapeshifters in the human world. It is hazy thought, the social relations between the humans and the others' though you definitely see some hostility toward vampires and shapeshifers, so you don't get a clear idea of where they stand in society which makes the story a little confusing. As for the second half, thing get a little chaotic. Upon the first reading, I had to force myself to finish because I was confused as to what had transpired in less than ten pages (suddenly she's on a bed wearing sexy lingerie and she's THISTY? Whaaa?) so I had to go back and actually make note of events changing and what eventually led up to a dramatic end.

- Tiny spoiler warning -
The ending was absolutely confusing, rushed and I had to read the last few pages twice to make sure that I had read right, and that Kieren had really gone away in les than two sentences. Two sentences. Suddenly, he was there, making out with Quincie after killing Bradley and next, he was gone. Though, I can approve of this rush and chaotic feeling, if Smith had intended to illustrate Quincie's confusion and slow transformation through the style, she could have executed it better.

- End spoiler -

I would recommend for readers to not buy the book, but rather check it out from the library and see if it does agree with you first. If it doesn't then, like all the other reviewers here.
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Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize begins as Quincie Morris, placed into her uncle's care after her parents' death, is helping prepare the family's restaurant for its grand re-opening. Quincie co-runs the restaurant, which is undergoing a renovation to become Sanguini's, a vampire-themed dining experience. When the head chef is murdered, Quincie must decide whether to trust her best friend and crush, Kieran, a half-werewolf hybrid, to not be the culprit. Soon, new chef Henry Johnson sweeps in, complete with quirky comments, red contact lenses, and a wish to make the place as vampirific as possible. Henry also takes a decided interest in Quincie. As things get weirder and weirder, Quincie must decide whom to trust: the now-suspect Kieren or her uncle and the intriguing new chef?

Very rarely have I seen such widely-ranging reviews as I did for TANTALIZE, so I decided to pick up the book and decide for myself. Unfortunately, I fell among those who did not enjoy this book. Smith's writing was stilted and jumpy, and there were little to no transitions between scenes. In the first two-thirds of the book, the plot and setting were somewhat interesting, but the big plot twist that occurred in the final third was very abrupt and unpleasant. The incomplete character development didn't make me care for any of the characters, and the villain was obvious from his first introduction. Overt attempts at sensuality throughout felt forced. Finally, the climax and ending felt very rushed, and the villain and love interest both acted in unbelievable ways.

Underneath these problems, I could see glimmers of what could have been a great story. The restaurant setting, complete with described menus, décor, and subculture, provided a unique backdrop and way to tell the story. Smith's use of inserted want ads and menu displays in the book, along with the segmentation of the book into meal courses, was very clever. In the beginning of the story, Quincie and Kieren are likeable characters and their lifetime history as friends felt endearing and real. The modern-day setting of Austin and a world where vampires and weres exist as known human subspecies could have also provided for an interesting mythology.

Even with this potential, the book was simply an unsatisfying read with too quick a resolution and characters that become unlikeable and difficult to understand. In future books, I hope that Smith uses the creativity and cleverness she obviously has and puts it into a more consistent and enjoyable storyline.
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on June 26, 2007
Too many people reviewing summed up the back story. So I won't. It was a very original setup. I was willing to go along for the ride. It seems that the author had sat down and worked out a bunch of lore, so she could be consistent. Like she mapped out things like which weregroups were allies and enemies and the way the vampire society worked. But much of that didn't work its ways into the story, except for the casual mention. And really bad things happened to the main character, a gripe which I understand to be a personal problem. I've been reading too many character shield book where nothing bad happens to the main character, except superficially. So what I'm saying is that this book made me sad and I didn't like that. It was well written though and seems to be setup for a sequel, which I'll read just to see if anything got resolved.
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I, like many others, had Tantalize recommended to me by Amazon and decided the premise sounded promising enough to give it a go. Now, after finishing it, I'm feeling let down and disappointed that what started off as a strong addition to the vampire/shapeshifter genre drifted into a tale at odds with its beginning.

Quincie is a senior in high school, but rather than doing the normal teenage things, she is helping her guardian uncle relaunch the family restaurant with a hip new vampire theme. She's in love with her best friend, Kieren, who is a werewolf, and who seems to be afraid to return the affection. When the head chef is murdered in the restaurnt before the opening, Quincie's organized life takes a turn when Bradley, a young chef, takes his place. Suddenly her beloved uncle is ignoring her, other people are turning up dead, and Bradley rapidly becomes the person Quincie can confide in when she realizes Kieren is going to be leaving soon to join a wolf pack.

I enjoyed the first part of this novel very much, even if I did have problems with the encouragement of Quincie's drinking by the adults in her life. But my doubts began to grow as it seemed no adult was taking any of the necessary precautions to protect Quincie; the doubts multiplied as I realized I was no longer liking anyone involved in the story because none of them were behaving well. When the story turned into forced vampirism (for no good reason I could tell), complete with some sexual innuendo that was out of line for Quincie, I started thinking perhaps the author hadn't known which way to go with her novel so she made it up as she went along. How else to explain holes in the story big enough to drive a car through? Fantasy or not, Quincie couldn't explain everything that happened to a reasonable adult and expect to be allowed to remain outside of a mental hospital or a prison. I can't let go of the fact that this novel, which started out so strongly, ended in a muddled mess. Three stars only because I've read other books by Ms. Smith and enjoyed them; this one is a big letdown.
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on November 22, 2007
I, like other reviewers, kept getting this book recommended to me by Amazon. Then I'd go the book store and see copies of it on the shelf, read the summary--how this is a story with a deadly love triangle and a werewolf as the heroine's first love--and think..."Well, it's a vampire/werewolf book, and Libba Bray and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (two authors who rock) both recommend it, and I LOVE their books." So I bought it.

And about 25 pages in, I knew it was a bad decision. But I kept reading, hoping it would get better.

It didn't. It got MUCH worse.

There wasn't enough content, any reason for why things developed and turned out the way they did. Most of the characters are difficult to care for, and the ending is absolutely horrid. I was beyond disappointed, especially when I really WANTED to like the book.
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on April 8, 2007
I read so many great reviews for this book, and it seemed really great at first, but the whole story just sagged. The plot was completely predictable, the ending abrupt and completely unrealistic (I know that's ironic in a story about werewolves and vampires, but if you've read it you know what I mean), and the writing was just not good enough to really draw me in. I hate to sound harsh, but I really just did not like this book. It's a quick read because hardly anything is really described in as much detail as it needs, so I did finish it, but this is one buy that I really regret.
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on February 21, 2007
Quincie Morris leads a stressful life; playing the part of a responsible adult since the death of her parents has left her the owner of the family restaurant. Fat Lorenzo's was a successful family business until a large Italian restaurant chain moved in down the street. The small business couldn't compete, so in order to keep the doors open, her Uncle Davidson, now her guardian and manager of the restaurant, decided to change Fat Lorenzo's into a vampire-themed Italian restaurant called Sanguini's. The chef would be the center of the act, leading a midnight toast every night. Quincie's close friend, Vaggio, has been with the restaurant for years as its chef and is looking forward to the new challenge.

Quincie works late many nights a week. She is either working with Vaggio, taste-testing for the new menu, or organizing some of the many tasks left to do before opening night. One night while she is in the office reviewing her "To Do List," she hears a noise from the kitchen. Thinking Vaggio simply dropped something, she continues to work. She is also waiting for Kieren, a half-werewolf that has been the love of her life and best friend for years. She is startled when she hears Kieren's frantic cry calling her name from the kitchen. Immediately going to meet him, she is horrified by the site of Vaggio dead on the kitchen floor, bloodied and mangled as if torn apart by wolves. Kieren is bloodied from attempting to help and is desperate with worry about Quincie. He quickly pulls her from the restaurant and goes down the street to call the police. Once the police arrive, they return to the scene of the crime to answer questions.

Quincie feels her world closing in on her. She has lost her parents and a dear friend within a short period of time. Her Uncle Davidson has been preoccupied with Ruby, his wannabe vampire girlfriend, so much so that he isn't ever home and rarely spends time with Quincie anymore. Now, she learns that Kieren is planning to leave. He is going to join a werewolf pack for support while he learns the ways of his culture. Once he joins, he will never be able to come back. The thought of never seeing, touching, or talking to Kieren again leaves her shaken.

Quincie is in a vulnerable state when the new chef for Sanguini's shows up unexpectedly. Uncle Davidson hired him without even consulting her, which irritates her since she is usually considered a partner when it comes to major decisions. Henry Johnson is the new chef and as he and Quincie work together to make him more vampire-like, they grow closer. The first thing they change is his name, and Henry Johnson becomes Bradley Sanguini. Bradley cooks for her daily, constantly trying new recipes for the possible menu. He also introduces her to wine. Never one for drinking, she quickly develops a taste for it, seeming to always have a glass of wine in her hand while she is working. She is surprised that her uncle doesn't say anything about her drinking. She is even more shocked when Uncle Davidson allows her to drink wine at home.

Quincie's life seems to flash before her eyes. Her mind is occupied with thoughts of the restaurant so much that her grades at school begin to fall. She loses interest in any activity that isn't surrounding Sanguini's. She begins to spend less time with Kieren, both because she is afraid of her feelings when he is gone for good and because Bradley and Uncle Davidson plant the seed of suspicion in her mind that Kieren might have lost control of his change and killed Vaggio himself. All of these thoughts distract her to the point that she is lured into a dangerous situation where there is no way out. Her life will be forever changed.

TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith is a stimulating paranormal mystery mixed with romance. The relationship between Quincie and Kieren is touching and so deep that the reader feels Quincie's pain at the thought of losing Kieren, while at the same time understanding Kieren's reasons for keeping Quincie at arms length and never following through on the emotions he feels for her. There are a few loose ends at the end of the book that leave the reader begging for more, which will most likely lead to a sequel.

Reviewed by: Karin Perry
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on May 1, 2008
*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

Quincie Morris, whose dead parents left her and her Uncle Davidson in charge of the family restaurant, is in love with her best friend Kieren, who happens to be a hybrid werewolf in a world where shifters and vampires exist and are frequently discriminated against. When the chef at Quincie's restaurant is brutally murdered, in werewolf fashion, Kieren becomes the subject of much scrutiny. Quincie no longer knows what to think, and she begins seeking support from the new chef, and from a wine of a very rich, red color.

This book suffers from a linear, straight-shot plot -- it takes the reader through step by step without provoking much thought. Some people prefer this type of writing; I do not. I found it predictable and a bit tedious in places, but what really keeps this book afloat is the engaging and clever inclusion of "food-talk" (for lack of a better term). The Italian restaurant owned by Quincie's family is trying out a new vampire theme, and the creative recipes will in turn repulse you and make your mouth water. Also unique was the division of the book into parts mimicking the courses of an Italian meal: antipasto; primo; secondo; dolce; and conforno.

In conclusion, this book is what I would call a "fluff read" -- there's nothing terribly complex about it, but there are some original elements that one might call 'delicious'. A recommendation for this one is up in the air. If it sounds like something you would enjoy, you probably will. If not, you can pass it up without fear of missing much.
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on March 24, 2009
I just don't get this book. I'm trying to listen to it, and keep thinking that something went wrong and I missed whole chapters - it starts out assuming way too much; somehow you are supposed to know vampires and werewolves are real and assumed to be living in the Austin, TX area. It is poorly written, just a bunch of words thrown out there that tried to jump onto the coattails of Twilight.
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