The title is intriguing, the description fascinating. Werewolves, vampires, a vampire-themed restaurant, a love triangle...sounds like a recipe for an amazing book, right?
Not so, unfortunately. TANTALIZE does not live up to its hype, and I was deeply disappointed in it.
Quincie Morris, orphaned daughter of two restaurant owners, is helping her legal guardian, Uncle Davidson, with the transformation of their old family restaurant into a new, hip restaurant, guaranteed to attract the elite weirdos of Austin, Texas. It's going to be vampire-themed, with the appropriate decor, costumes, and menu.
Ah, the menu. What a problem. Five weeks before the restaurant's grand opening, their head chef is brutally murdered in what appears suspiciously to be a werewolf attack. Quincie and Uncle D hurriedly hire Henry Johnson (rechristened "Brad" as his vampire name), a nondescript, vaguely intriguing young man in his twenties.
Meanwhile, Quincie is dealing with the ever-potential fire of passion that never lights in her best friend, werewolf-man hybrid Kieren, who is studying vigorously to apply to become part of an official Wolf clan. Quincie has held a torch for him forever, but something always seems to hold him back, and it frustrates her to no end. Good thing Brad is always there, with his soothing words, delectable dishes, and offers of wine and...something more, perhaps? Quincie isn't sure.
Tensions fly high in the neighborhood as the restaurant opening approaches. Quincie and Kieren fight more and more as his date of departure looms ahead, the neighborhood is being terrorized by some murderer, and Brad's vampire costume seems to be missing something. It is not long, however, before Quincie realizes that having a vampire-themed restaurant may have been a very bad decision. In fact, it may be the very last decision she ever makes...
...Unless her own inner strength and love can pull through and save the day.
TANTALIZE is a hurried jumble of underdeveloped characters and too much action. Smith's attempt to probe into the highly popular genre of paranormal romance is commendable, but not anything too special.