Tantalize (Tantalize Series #1)

Tantalize (Tantalize Series #1)

by Cynthia Leitich Smith


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Tantalize (Tantalize Series #1) by Cynthia Leitich Smith

"Readers will be tantalized by this dark, romantic, and disturbing fantasy of vampires, werewolves, and a strong no-nonsense heroine. " — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL


Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763640590
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 07/22/2008
Series: Tantalize Series , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,080,955
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: HL740L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the author of several acclaimed books for younger readers. Of TANTALIZE she says, "I tapped into my romantic nature, my love for monsters and marinara. Hold the garlic and enjoy!" A member of the faculty at the Vermont College MFA program in writing for children and young adults, she lives in Austin, Texas.

Read an Excerpt


Lousy idea, us sitting like that on the railroad tracks. If we had had to jump, it would have been a heart-stopping drop to the lake below. But Kieren had said he could hear a train coming from far away, in more than enough time for us to scramble from the middle of the bridge to safety. And I trusted him. Liked him watching out for me, too.

To the west, the fading horizontal clouds had turned a bloody tangerine color, fuzzy and tinged with violet, like the inside of a conch shell. So, I imagined picking one up, a curved shell, and shaking it to see if theanimal within had died.

Then Kieren’s fingernails began tracing the pattern on my upturned palm, and it was hard to think about anything. I knew it bothered him, though, my laugh line, my love line, my lifeline. Slight and severed, all of them.

This was four years ago, so we were in middle school, past due for handholding. I’d been staying with Kieren’s family, helping with the baby, while my folks were in Guatemala doing whatever professors with archaeology Ph.D.s did there. Daddy anyway. Mama had just gone along for the ride. They’d be back the day after tomorrow, I realized. And tomorrow could be gone in a heartbeat or two.

"It’s not just a sunset," I said, going for poetic. "It’s a moonrise, too."

Kieren’s nostrils flared at that, which I found exceedingly manly. Besides, I’d always loved this time of day, late evening when the world went smoky and soft. Dusk. Twilight. Such pretty names. We owed somethingto the night, didn’t we?

I tried pressing my newly rounded right boob against his forearm. Even though it was well covered in a sweatstained T-shirt, even though the temperature had to be over ninety degrees. I had it on good authority that most boys my age were due to go boob crazy at any time. But my hand was all he was interested in.

As the sun melted into the horizon, I stared into the rippling water and decided to take the lead. If Kieren backed off, I’d make like I was joking.

It seemed to take forever, turning my palm until our fingers aligned, rested against one another, ready to intertwine. His face was flushed, moist from the heat, and his expression didn’t tell me anything.

Taking a shallow breath, I went for it. There. My fingertips touched the back of his hand. His fingertips touched the back of mine. And he was letting it happen. I was about to say something -- I didn’t know what -- when distant but sure I heard the train.

"Kieren?" I whispered.

I’d distracted him.

A cause for celebration if it hadn’t been for the penalty.

His head snapped in the direction of the oncoming threat, the one that would reach me first, and his eyes in the evening light looked flat and yellow. I didn’t feel the pain when I first heard the wet crunching, didn’t feel it for long even, wicked hot, turning my sweat cold. There was an instant, just one, when I looked down at my hand and felt the blood dripping and realized his nails . . . claws . . . had extended, piercing clear through, five crescent-shaped punctures, catching raw muscle andsplintering bone.

"Oh," I said, like that explained everything, and suddenly, the train didn’t matter so much anymore. Then the world swirled, faded, took me floating into the darkness.


"You’re nuts!" I exclaimed after swallowing a bite of tender scallops twirled in garlic fettuccine. "My uncle will never sign off on this."

"No, no, not nuts, Quincie," the chef countered in an accented baritone. "Garlic. He said ‘Italian.’ Change this. Pave that. But still, Italian. So, garlic."

"But Vaggio!"

His triumphant smile let me in on the joke. "Ah, bambina, so predictable."

It was nearly 9 p.m., and since sevenish that evening, I’d been playing taste tester for the teasing and tiring chef. Each dish had been sensual, succulent, but none had screamed, "Presto: blood lust!" And that’s whatwe were going for.

Sanguini’s was to be Austin’s first restaurant built around a vampire theme. More class than kitsch, but not without a sense of playfulness. A reboot of Fat Lorenzo’s, the family-style Italian restaurant on South Congress that had once belonged to Gramma and Grampa Crimi, who’d left it to Mama. She’d often called the business her "other child" and seemed more at home there than she did in the house.

At least until three winters ago, when she and Daddy died on the icy 183 exit ramp off MoPac Expressway, orphaning me and the restaurant. The will had placed both of us in the care of Daddy’s younger brother,Davidson, until I hit twenty-one.

Back then, Uncle D was in his mid-twenties, barely out of Texas State University. I was only fourteen, and the marinara in my veins came from Mama’s side of the family, not Daddy’s. But Vaggio, the chef who’dknown my late grandparents since back in their Chicago days, helped Uncle D get up to speed. And from then on, I spent more time at Fat Lorenzo’s than anywhere else, even Kieren’s.

All was well until last year when Pasta Perfecto opened a few blocks south. Though our regulars had stayed regular, their parking lot was twice the size of ours. Within six months, Fat Lorenzo’s was in the red.

Something had to change, I’d said, or we’d find ourselves out of business. Vaggio had argued that we should stick with Italian, claiming he didn’t know how to cook anything else. Uncle Davidson had suggestedthe vampire concept.

"Can’t we just do a ghost?" Vaggio had asked. "It’s an old building. We could make up a story, say somebody who worked here died."

"Nah," Uncle Davidson had replied. "Haunted has been done to death."

Customer Reviews

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Tantalize 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 218 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i was excited to read this book, but once i got the first few chapters out of the way, i was dissapointed, there is no love plots that lead anywhere and the build up is just that build up, nothing exciting happends and your left saying "Okkkaaaayyyyy! that was it?? the ending was a dud and your left wondering "maybe we really shouldnt judge a book for its cover" cause i was drawn in by the cover but pushed away by the story.
Brezooka More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because I wanted a quick read that had a little bit of romance and a little bit of the mythical. Unfortunately the only part of this book that actually satisfied me was the quick part. I thought that this might be a (finally) original idea involving vampires and werewolves, but when it came down to it, there really was not enough creativity in the plot or characters to keep me hooked.

The main character, Quincie, really bothered me as the book progressed, mainly because she just started to feel flat. She had very little depth, and it was quite easy to predict how the story would go as soon as you figured out how Quincie thought. Kieren was my last hope for a decent character, but he just drops out of the picture in the middle of the book, negating any hope that he might actually save this pathetic character.

The vampire concept as well was ridiculously cliche, and unoriginal, not even brushing on how late into the book they were introduced. The vampires and the conclusion of the book seemed like a whole second half of a novel that was shoved into the last twenty pages of this one. The ending just didn't live up to any expectations that were built up during the rest of the book.

If you want a quick easy read that doesn't require that you dedicate any more than one day of your life, then this is for you, but for much else this book will not satisfy.
WingdReader6 More than 1 year ago
I was not sure what to expect from this book when I purchased it. Once I started reading it though it became very intriguing. I love the turns and twist that go on and I cant wait to read the sequel eternal.
brokenwings_vampirefangs More than 1 year ago
Ok so I read this book because it combined two of my favorite things: cooking and vampires. But I just didn't like it. I mean I guess that the way it was written was ok but I just didn't get the plot that much. Yes ok so the new vamp. chef is hired because the old chef if murdered. Got it. Main character's BFF/Crush is a werewolf. Got that too. But mix in the fact that the main character happens to b an alcoholic, her uncle let's her do whatever she wants and just the overall weirdness of teh entire thing...yeah not getting it so much. I'm sorry if you liked it and you think I'm being harsh but this was just not the book for me.
jackijc More than 1 year ago
Quincie Morris's parents are dead, leaving her a restaurant, Fat Lorenzo's, that has recently gone out of buisness due to local competition. Quincie's Uncle D and his skanky vampire-obsessed girlfriend decide to remodel the place into a vampire-themed restaurant. Quincie's werewolf lover Kieren hates the theme, warning Quincie that the restaurant might actually attract vampires. When the chef is brutally murdered, she is left with the job of turning "Bradley Singuini" into a "culinary dark lord." While Quincie is struggling with this task, she finds out Kieren might leave her to go to a werewolf pack. She drinks a lot of wine and flirts with the new chef to get over it. But there is more than it seems to this new chef, he isn't just pretending to be a vampire, he is one.
I think this was one of the best books ever written, I was suprised at how deep it was for a last-minute read for my school. it wasn't predictable, but it wasn't unpredictable, and the love-triangle leaves you wondering who she will end up with. I love that in this book vampires aren't good-guys, but Quincie's character bothered me a bit because she loved kieren so much, but she still cheated on him.
i would recommend this for anyone who likes gothic horror or vampires. it is a well-written fast-paced romance/adventure. 4 stars
Veggiechiliqueen More than 1 year ago
Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize is a complete about-face to her earlier Native American-themed books aimed at children and young adults such as Rain Is Not My Indian Name, Indian Shoes or Jingle Dancer. Instead, we have a competitor to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight universe that contains some of the same elements: human-werewolf romances and vampires that can pass as humans. However, the Twilight similarities end there.

Quincie Morris, named after a Texan in Bram Stoker's Dracula (Enriched Classics Series), lives in modern Austin, Texas: a very hip, eco-friendly town that's the state capital. An orphan, she's inherited her family's faltering Italian restaurant, formerly Fat Lorenzo's. However, due to competition, she and her uncle up the ante by rechristening Fat Lorenzo's as a vampire-themed restaurant, Sanguini's. Before the grand opening, their chef is brutally murdered, and it's up to Quincie to find a replacement, and fast. Oh, and not only does he have to be a great chef, but he has to pass as a vampire, too.

Quincie's boyfriend Kieren is half-werewolf and he's frustrated by his inability to morph completely. He's also unable to commit physically to their relationship, even though Quincie tries to goad him into spontaneous sex. As Quincie becomes more and more involved with the new chef Brad, Kieren becomes more distant. Her world is turned upside down as more murders occur in her neighborhood. Quincie's also developed the questionable habit of consuming large amounts of wine at Brad's urging, and he tries to seduce her with exotic dishes and wines.

The novel's shocking conclusion is a fast-paced culmination of sex, dangerous addictions, the price of loyalty, and life and death. There are graphic murders, lace thongs, intoxication and betrayal; no chaste, Mormon-penned romance, this; if you're considering buying this for your tween or young teen, stick to the first Twilight novel. Tantalize is incredibly dark, despite the sunny Austin setting (Texans and Austinites will feel right at home), and far more adult than some other "young adult" supernatural romances (it's about on par with the sex and violence in Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate). Fans of vampires, werewolves and the supernatural will likely embrace Tantalize, but it's not for sensitive readers (heavy alcohol use, seduction, and graphic violence).

Another difference from Twilight is the inclusion of many literary references to Cyrano de Bergerac, Bram Stoker, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Shelley, and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. This is a sharp, hip novel; foodies will delight in the graphic descriptions of Italian classics to downright repulsive shock cuisine. Although the ending seemed rushed, I hope to read more of the resourceful Quincie's adventures as this has whetted my appetite for more of Smith's masterful blend of the supernatural in a modern Austin setting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After a few months of reading just so-so reviews of Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize, I finally decided to give it a try for myself. I read it through in a day, and I can say with confidence that I don't understand the bulk of bad reviews. It has everything a good book must. It kept me on the edge, it kept me guessing, and, mostly importantly, it kept me caring about the story and its characters. And about all of those unanswered questions? This is just one of a series--of course it's going to have some of those!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I liked how you constantly have questions that make you think and guess. Yeah it did leave some things unfinished at the end but I think the author wanted to be like that cause it gets you to think about what might have happened. I really hope she writes a sequel I would so read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quincie Morris is excited about reopening her parents' Italian restaurant -- now with a vampire theme. But things start going awry. The chef, Vaggio, is killed in an apparent werewolf attack. Quincie's best friend is suspected. Then, a new chef, Henry, just happens to show up . . . but Henry's a little strange. And what's in the wine? What's fun about this novel are the twists and turns as well as the fact that the author uses stuff like menus to add to her story. It's never really scary. It's also not ultra-sexy like some vampire novels. It's more of a fun romp with a mystery in it. You'll be turning pages to the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has quite the appropriate title, seeing how it is tantalizing right from the start! Loved it, loved the strong protagonist Quincie Morris, loved the supporting characters, and I'm hoping for a sequel!
WhatsBeyondForks More than 1 year ago
There were a lot of different things that made this story unique. There was the Vampire themed restaurant. Pretty much every Were-creature imaginable appeared in this book. For example: a Were-Opossum. It's true! And, I'm sorry, but that sounds like a pretty cute creature to me. Where my interest sort of started and ended was with Quincie, the main character. I liked her in the beginning, but as I got to know her, she lost much of her appeal. There was action. It flowed quickly. All in all, it was pretty good. So, I'll be reading the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I`ve read every book in the tantalize series and the spinoff feral series and they were awesome. Well paced, exciting, and while harkening back to classic vampire themes, very origional. I don`t understand the bad reviews saying things weren`t explained, they were early on in the story and then referenced later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GreatSample. cant wait to Buy the Book!
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One if the best books ive ever read and i have read it 7 times
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it at first. Got really into it, but as.the story wemt on I lost intrest. I felt like I had to finish it. Then I got towards the end it caught my intrest again. I will be reading book no.2
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Owlmanafanatic16 More than 1 year ago
When I heard about tantalize, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. But it had vampires and I'm a Christopher pike fan, so why not. I was glad I did read it. Reading Tantalize was like reading a forbidden book. I liked all the characters and the plot was fantastic. I also like the cover and title. Just the word Tantalize made me want to read it. If yur not sure if u want to read it, go to your library and see if they have it. If you hate it, you won't have to spend any money. Thank's for reading this review!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read tittle
Anonymous More than 1 year ago