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Steamed    by Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant order for
by Jessica Conant-Park
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Chloe Carter is an ardent foodie with a romantic yearning for the man just right for her. However, her track record in romance is not a winning one. When her latest flame, Noah, turns out to be a low-life dud, she takes a step she has sworn never to do: she tries an Internet date. DinnerDude sounds promising, especially as he seems to share her liking for gourmet food and upscale restaurants. Alas, their first date is a disaster beyond imagining. When Eric excuses himself for a few moments that turn into a very long interval, Chloe finds that he hasn't skipped out on her or the bill; he is a homicide victim.

More complications follow. Chloe is enmeshed in the tearful clutches of Eric's family, who labour under the delusion that she is his true love, destined to be his bride had it not been for his untimely death. At Eric's wake, she meets the delicious Josh, an attractive chef who seems as interested in her as she is in him. Unfortunately, Josh is also the prime suspect in Eric's murder.

Chloe finds herself frantically juggling her growing relationship with Josh, the demands of her social work courses, investigations into Eric's past (in an effort to clear Josh of suspicion), and the smothering attentions of Eric's parents. Much to the dismay of her family and friends, she pursues her investigations with somewhat risky determination. In the end, she finds the unsavoury truth behind Eric's death and the twist at the end had me goggling.

Steamed is a lively, humourous mystery with a heroine who seems destined to be fate's plaything. Although the story is well crafted and entertainingly written, I found the protagonist somewhat tiresome in her unending series of romantic and personal disasters. Co-author Susan Conant has also penned the Cat Lover's and Dog Lover's mysteries (I am a fan of the latter and much prefer her protagonist Holly Winter). However, this is certainly an amusing read and a pleasant escape. So cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine, and enjoy Chloe's escapades.

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