The Taste of Night (Signs of the Zodiac Series #2)

The Taste of Night (Signs of the Zodiac Series #2)

by Vicki Pettersson, Victoria Lavish

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The Taste of Night (Signs of the Zodiac Series #2) by Vicki Pettersson, Victoria Lavish

Equal parts Light and Shadow, Joanna Archer must fulfill a destiny she never wanted. Once a photographer and heiress to a casino fortune, she is now dedicated to the cause of good . . . but susceptible to the seductions of evil.

A deadly virus is descending on Las Vegas—a terrifying plague unleashed by the powerful overlord of Zodiac's dark side: Joanna's father. Chaos and panic grip Sin City as agents of Light fall prey to the terrifying epidemic. Death reigns supreme—and Joanna stands at dead center of an epic and terrible war long foretold, the last hope of a damned world.

But first she must somehow conquer the malevolence that grows all around her . . . and within.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061755248
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Signs of the Zodiac Series , #2
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 216,628
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Vicki Pettersson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sign of the Zodiac novels, a six-book urban fantasy series set in her hometown of Las Vegas. Though she'll always consider that glittering dust bowl home, she now divides her time between Vegas and Dallas, where she's learning to like good Tex-Mex (easy) and the Dallas Cowboys (easier than you'd think).


Las Vegas, Nevada

Place of Birth:

Las Vegas, Nevada


B.A. in English, University of Las Vegas, 1994

Read an Excerpt

Taste of Night, The

Chapter One

It's funny how a name can change the world's perception of you. Your perception of yourself. My mother used to stroke my cheek with her fingertips, calling me her Jo-baby—my earliest identity; a child both loved and cherished—though obviously that was before she abandoned me. And while the man I'd once thought was my father just called me Joanna, the way he said it was telling as well, all the syllables crisply clipped and pronounced, like he was biting them off between his teeth before spitting them out. Like being Joanna, like being me, was a bad thing. And then there was the love of my life. He'd called me Jo-Jo, and that was the name I missed most of all.

Because for the past six months everyone had called me by my sister's name, and it was the one I used on myself now, fluffing my blond hair as I stood in a makeshift dressing room in one of Las Vegas's most opulent resorts, the Valhalla Hotel and Casino.

"Olivia Archer," I muttered as I straightened my Chanel pencil skirt, my feet screaming in heels as high as flagpoles. "What the hell were you thinking?"

Of course, she couldn't answer. The real Olivia was six months dead, and while I still mourned her every day and every minute, even if she'd been here I doubt her answer would've made sense to me. I mean, how did one even come up with the idea of selling women to raise money for charity? Much less entering herself in the bidding?

I'd been asking myself this ever since I received the phone call from City of Light Charities two months earlier, asking if the bachelorette auction was still on in spite of "recent events."I'd then scrambled to make sure it was, as Olivia would've done. Because that was one thing I needed to do.

Be Olivia Archer. Or be dead.

And so I stood, staring in the mirror at skin that was supposed to be mine, buffed, fluffed, and shellacked to aesthetic perfection, about to auction myself off to the highest bidder.

"Livvy-girl!" The screech—another of my new names—could be heard above the emcee's cheery voice as yet another debutante was sold out front. "Olivia! No, no! Get away!"

I whirled, images of honed blades and demon faces assailing me, but there was only Cher, Olivia's best friend—now mine—waving frantically as she danced from foot to foot. She breathed a theatrical sigh as I picked up my Dior handbag and clicked over to her in my medieval torture devices. Yanking me to her side, she whispered harshly, "That's the suicide mirror, remember? Leave that for the other hags . . . er, contestants."

She batted her thickened lashes when I glared at her. I needed this event to be a success. Which meant cheering on all the other hags. Er, contestants.

"It's true," added Madeleine Cross airily, mistaking my annoyance for disbelief. I recognized her from her photo in Vegas's equivalent of Page Six, and it turned out she was just as vain and self-absorbed as reported. She flipped back a lock of recently streaked auburn hair and ran her finger across a perfectly waxed brow. "Two socialites, sharing that mirror, were brought down by bad press after last year's event."

"Social homicide," Cher said, and both women shuddered.

I wanted to say, But it was for a good cause, and only just managed to keep my mouth shut and face straight. "Oh. Well . . . thanks. For saving me, I mean."

"'Course, darlin'! We're BFFs!" Cher gave my shoulders a squeeze before her gaze strayed over my shoulder and she gasped. "Oh my God! Don't look!"

We turned, and a squeaky sound from Cher whipped us back around. Madeleine leaned forward to peer at the offending contestant through the critical lens of our mirror.

"She's using M·A·C lipstick in . . ." She squinted before drawing back, chin lifted. "Vegas Volt. At least two coats. The whore."

I leaned over and joined her in study of the woman now perched obliviously in front of the suicide mirror. She was dressed in high-class hooker wear and dripping diamonds, just like the rest of us. "I think she looks good."

"Olivia!" Cher looked at me like I'd just told her I wore press-on nails. "Priscilla Chambers is her own object of desire!"

"Truly," said Madeleine, applying more mascara as she rolled her eyes, nearly stabbing herself in the eyeball. "Watch, she'll bid on herself."

Olivia had lined up the bachelorettes months before—thank God—and clearly I was missing out on some social nuances. So under the guise of polite inquisitiveness, I probed for more information. "Well, what about her? In blue?"

Cher and Madeleine jostled for mirror time, but neither glanced in the direction of the woman about to take to the stage. "Lena Carradine. Puh-lease."

Madeleine executed another perfect eye roll. "Queen of the facelift tribe."

"See where her brows are tattooed? Those used to be her cheeks."

Tough crowd.

"Ladies?" Oh, thank God, I knew that voice. We all turned to find a reporter standing so close she'd easily copped every word. She smiled. "Could I get a couple quotes for the Las Vegas Sentinel?"

Cher and Madeleine launched into a litany of clichés about charity, peace on earth, and the quest for a good man, and the reporter pretended to jot it all down, an expression of carefully vacuous cheerfulness on her honeyed face. Meanwhile I studied Vanessa Valen; naturally bronzed, exotic as a hot-house orchid, and a woman who had the art of camouflage down to a science. Though I'd seen her do it a hundred times now, it was still mystifying how easily she disappeared in a crowd. She was beautiful, but more than that, she had a rock-solid presence and a will to match. She also had a steel fan with viciously curved claws resting somewhere beneath her tidy reporter's guise, and was my only real ally at this whole bubble-brained affair. It was all I could do not to latch on to her leg and hang there.

Taste of Night, The. Copyright © by Vicki Pettersson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Kim Harrison

“The Scent of Shadows came out of nowhere and slapped me silly. … You’re going to love this.”

Charlaine Harris

“...Read at your own risk —it’ll keep you up past your bedtime.”

Customer Reviews

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Taste of Night (Signs of the Zodiac Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 234 reviews.
melburg1 More than 1 year ago
This is a great follow-up to Scent of Shadows (Signs of the Zodiac Series #1). In fact, I suggest that you purchase all three books currently in the series at once! It was a refreshing change of pace to read a paranormal book that didn't contain vampires, werewolves, and witches! I love the main character Joanna Archer. She is a strong, independent woman that doesn't mind getting her hands dirty, or taking care of her own problems. What I like about the series is that the storyline is unique, the characters each have their own strengths, and villains that you'll love to hate, like Regan! These books will have you laughing, loving, hating, and crying! I was very impressed by this series and have recommended it to all of my friends. I am axiously awaiting the next book in the series!
ZombieJoe More than 1 year ago
After reading the first book in the series, I went and downloaded the second to my Nook in and effort to read a series through to the end before starting a new one. I was not disappointed with this plan in the least. It was almost as if it was an extension of the first book, flowing right into it. As I expected, there was none of the slow intro that there is many times in the first book in a series. If you read the first book, you would already know about the paranormal world Jo lives in. This allows us as the reader to dive right into the story - and dive right in we do. The action picks up in the beginning giving us a depth in the Shadow Agents. In this book the action is there, the overhanging doom of the plague is there but it is flavored with an almost humanizing of the Shadow Agents. Don't get me wrong, they are still as nasty as Taco Bell at two in the morning, but you get an idea of why they are that nasty. You almost feel sorry for them. That is until one of them opens up their mouth and says something. Which is the feeling I get that the author is trying to show us - a bit of how Jo is seeing things. She is part Shadow and part Light. Her mother, the previous Archer for the Light had her while infiltrating the Shadow side with the Tulpa, Leader of the Shadows and a being created fully from thought and will. An evil agent on the Shadow side created him out of his imagination. And now this creature with near limitless power knows that Joanna Archer is his daughter. The idea of the "cursed battlefield" that is the Second Sign that the Zodiac troops are looking for is presented in a couple of different ways. The reason this appealed to me is that it left it up to me to interpret which one was really happening - if there was indeed only a single cursed battlefield. The one thing that I wanted to see more of in the first book I felt like I was given. More of a style of Krav Maga from Jo. Without spoiling too much, there is at least one major fight scene where I feel she was displaying more of the brutality of the fighting style working in conjunction with her superhuman powers. More inline with the initial fight she had with Ajax and the Shadow that killed her sister. With more of a depth of feeling and caring for the characters, more of a Krav Maga feel to her fighting and everything from the first book that I loved, I am moving this one up a bit higher in the grading system. At least an A- and well worth the money and definitely worth the time to read. Book 3 is already sitting in my Nook waiting for me to open it.
camino_kid More than 1 year ago
second book in the series, very enjoyable.... if you liked the first book you wont be disappointed.... but read the first book before starting this one... or the story will be hard to follow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must confess that I first picked up Vicki Pettersson's book 'Scent of Shadows' it was because it was cheap, but I didn't expect anything. Now I am hooked. This last book kept me on edge from page one. Pettersson's writing it top notch with brilliant use of poetic as well as colloquial language in th enarrative voice, a great use of facial expression to say thing swithout spelling them out, and subtle and brilliant foreshadowing. She leaves clues that makes this book more mystery novel that I would have expected. I love the way that it is the human flaws of Joanna that drive the plot forward, and yet it is her doggedness, hope, love and anger that drive her forward to pass her obstacles.For a superhero, her tragic flaw is being human and acting and reacting like one, which makes her incredibly relatable. Each of the characters, event the minor ones, are carefully developed throughout the series, helping to complete the whole picture. Finally, I love that with each battle won, thee are always some loose ends, some sacrifices that must be made to stop the bigger evil. This means there is always a score to settle and the promise of more action in the future. I must confess that at first the circumstances and situations that Pettersson set up for Joanna made me angry. But like any good superhero/villain story, it is about the path chosen. Every great superhero has tragedy befall them upon realizing their powers, but whether they chose the noble or evil path makes the story. Pettersson's story is about realizing that when life gives you lemons, no matter how bitter or how many, it is the lemonade that you make from them that counts. A brilliant read that leaves you wanting more. That sums up this book as well as the first one. I can't wait for the next one coming out in May.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book takes off from page one and does not stop. The idea is originial and the writing is great. The character of Joanna has flaws, which makes her much more accessible to us readers than other heroines that seem too perfect. I love that the main story arches through both books, yet each book in the series, so far, is telling a very specific portion of the story and there is a beginning and end. This series will be big, just give it time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Book 2 in the Zodiac series. It's just as good as the first. It's definitely worth the price of the book. I generally only purchase books I know I will read more than once. This book (and the first) are an investment!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great story that really moves! I read it in a weekend because I couldn't put it down!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Joanna Archer was a mortal until her third life cycle and then she metamorphosed into a superhero, a member of Zodiac Troop 175 which consists of twelve members each a sign of the zodiac Joanna is the Archer. Her troopers don¿t entirely trust her for two reasons. The first she is the fulcrum and depending on which side she belongs to, the light or the shadow, that side will win. The second reason is she is the Kairos a being of dark and light and while she sides with the light, the shadow inherited by her father the Tulpa wants to lure her to be one of their own.-------------- When she runs into a Shadow being, she worries her that his group has a weapon that will destroy her troop and mortals as well. She kills him and Rachel a shadow initiate, ready to undergo her metamorphous soon doesn¿t try to stop her but kisses and warns her not to go to the troop¿s sanctuary. At a fireworks show, a plague is released in the Las Vegas area killing people in horrific numbers. Joanna has to find the antidote but to do that she will have to deal with her father who she has never seen and who has the ability to crush her.--------------- THE TASTE OF NIGHT is supernatural fantasy at its very best. Vicki Petterson knows how to create flawed characters that feel realistic, even the support cast of the light who make mistakes but keep their mission on track. The heroine has to deal with a dual heritage of Light and Shadow leading to nobody knowing how to relate with her because one such as her has never been born before.---------- Harriet Klausner
NookFever More than 1 year ago
I found the first book in the series to be very depressing, so it was nice to see Joanna Archer move forward a bit (but not by much), although it's still hard for me to overcome the fact that she had plastic surgery to take over her sister's persona. I really don't like that part of the story. Unfortunately, it was like wading through mud in the second installment. Very slow! Again, there's a lot of internal conflict Joanna tries to resolve, and the ending reminded me of the ending in the first book. I enjoy the author's imagery more often than not, and the quirky interactions with Cher and Cher's mother add some lightheartedness. The plot in The Taste of Night revolves heavily around Joaquin and a plague that is killing mortals and even agents of Light. After it's all said and done, I don't think I'll continue with the series. For some reason, I'm a little tired of all the repetitiveness, the Joanna/Olivia conflict, the Joanna/Ben conflict, Joanna and the Tulpa, agents of Shadow and Light, etc....
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book, the second book of the Zodiac series, the book opens about 6 months down the road from where the first book left off, Joanna/Olivia is at a charity auction where she is one of many dates being auctioned off. When she goes to meet the man that bid the highest for her, he calls her Archer and tells her, he know exactly who she really is. She follows him, and another Blonde woman that was bidding on her and is almost killed as the man is a Shadow agent and the woman is a Shadow initate. Instead the Blond woman shoots out the shoulders and the knees of the shadow man and hands Joanna/Olivia the conduit that belongs to the Shadow agent and Joanna kills him. Joanna makes her first mistake in not killing the shadow woman, her name is Regan and she knows Joanna's true identify. Joanna makes a lot of mistakes in this book and she paids dearly for her mistakes. She finds herself, becoming truly fond of her sister Olivia's best friend Cher and doesn't have to fake liking her. She still has a one track mind on hunting down the shadow agent that raped her, this also messes with her head and puts her and others in danger. A deadly virus is unleased in Las Vegas and it also infects the agents of the light. Joanna's Father is the one that unleashed the virus. Joaquin is the shadow agent that raped and beat Joanna when she was 15 and left her for dead when she was 15, he did it at the command of her Father, the Tupla, that is before the Tupla knew that Joanna was his Daughter. The Tupla hates Joanna's Mother (Zoe) we have yet to meet Joanna's Mother in this series. Joanna meets Regan and falls right into her trap, will Joanna, be able to redeem herself with the other agents of the light or with Warren, their leader? I think it is a sign of a good book when you get emotionally involved with the characters, once I pick up one of these Zodiac books, I just have to keep reading it until I finish the book.
Charis_Elpis More than 1 year ago
Joanna Archer's story is one of a superhero in the making. This heroine is finding that being a superhero has not made her life, already filled with a tragic past, any easier. In this second book of the series, she finds herself struggling to adjust and find her place in her new reality, unable to let go of her past, her love, and herself. Vicki Petterson's Joanna Archer is the Luke Skywalker of Las Vegas. A young woman coming into powers she never dreamt of, and coping with the duality behind those powers. Joanna is proof that superheroes are human.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started this book and I couldn't put it down. I had to keep reading it, a lot happens in this first book. Joanna was raped at 15 and beaten and left for dead. Now on the eve of her 25th birthday, she finds out that she is not her Father's true Daughter, goes out on a blind date and gets attacked by a weird creepy guy that tries to kill her and meets back up with her teenage boyfriend, Ben. They go out to dinner and she leaves him to go and meet her sister Olivia afterwards and they get attacked in her sisters penthouse and her sister is murdered. Joanna learns she is the Archer, the first sign of the Zodiac and is made over to look like her sister Oliva and has to bury her sister Oliva who was made over to look like her. Joanna/Oliva finds out that she is part light, part shadow and has a hard time being accepted by all the other light agents. This book is one roller coaster ride, but it is one fun ride. What happened to the daughter that Joanna gave birth to when she was 16? Is she also an agent of the Light/Shadow since Joanna discovers that she was raped by a Shadow Agent. I loved this book, a great start to a new series and I already have The Taste of Night, the second sign of the Zodiac. I am looking forward to reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first book was interesting enough to merit checking out the second in the series, but I felt let down. The results of this second attempt were comic book grade action and a plot that couldn't keep my attention.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read both books now and I think she really has something going here. When I started out reading Laurell K Hamilton she made mistakes too so I'm hoping Vicki works them out. I think she needs a better editor to help her work out the plot twists that just don't hold water and big holes that are left unfilled. The bottom line is that the story lines and ideas are really good and she's done a good job of endearing Me to the characters which is really the most important thing of all because that's what will keep me coming back for more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the book had so action. its like you was right there with her.the chartars seemed so alive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed this series, and hope there are more to come. The plot twists sometimes make no sense to me, and sometimes things seem a bit too cartoony for my taste, but the world she's created is intriguing and messy enough to avoid cliche so I'm definitely hooked. If you're not a fan of graphic novels, superheroes, or sci-fi in general, you're probably better off reading something else.
moecatj on LibraryThing 8 days ago
An amazing new series about superheroes! If you love urban fantasy, this one should be on the top of your must read list. It's kind of a mix between X-Men and Heroes set in Vegas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little drawn out but a good read this has 400 pages.
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Guille More than 1 year ago
Gave you something to think about. Will buy and read series.