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Blessed    by Cynthia Leitich Smith order for
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Blessed is the sequel to Cynthia Leitich Smith's darkly romantic urban fantasy Tantalize, which introduced Quincie Morris and her family's Italian bistro in Austin, Texas. After her parents died, Quincie's flaky uncle Davidson suggested a restaurant with a vampire theme, to be named Sanguini's. Unfortunately, their new chef (Brad) was a real vampire who turned Quincie and framed her best friend, werewolf-in-training Kieren Morales, for murder. Davidson (who was also a vampire) was staked by werecat Ruby.

As Blessed opens, Kieren leaves town to join a Wolf pack in New Schwarzwald, Michigan for training ('to master his inner beast') and protection. Quincie closes Sanguini's, while she seeks a chef. She also works to understand her new vampire existence, and has to try to figure out what to do about the 'soon-to-rise neophytes' (affected by eating the restaurant's signature dessert) Brad has left her as a parting gift. Complicating her life further, Kieren's Wolf shifter mother Meara insists that she live with them - and gives her Kieren's room.

Quincie tries to come to terms with all that's happened (and with being undead), helped by Kieren's possum shifter friend Clyde and by Aimee, who ate the tainted dessert. In the meantime, angel Zachary (whom readers met in Eternal) is assigned her guardianship until she either ends her existence or loses her soul. Quincie, who keeps hearing Brad whispering in her mind, hires some very helpful new staff who understand how to deal with Eternals and keep her supplied with animal blood. Zachary shows up and signs on as a waiter.

When Quincie and her friends learn that Brad acquired a bowie knife that allows him to tap Drac Prime's powers, and seeks a kukri knife that will give him even more, they decide to take action. Their quest leads them to a vampire royal gala in Illinois, and to Kieren's Wolf pack in Michigan, where Brad had already embarked on a killing spree. Unfortunately he's possessed by the original Dracula, making it very hard to take him down. Do they manage to rid the world of Brad-Dracula and does Quincie have a future? Read Blessed to find out. It's a riveting ride!

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