Reviewer: Connie Payne
Title: Steamed - First in A Gourmet Girl Mystery series
Author: Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant
Publisher: Penguin Group - Berkley Prime Crime
Release Date: March 2006
Genre/Sub-genre: Chick Lit Cozy Mystery
Year/Setting: Present Day - In and around Boston
Overall rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Sensual/Sexual - thought and innuendo
Language (profanity) Rating: Mild/Moderate
Violent content rating: Minimal
Jessica's Website: None at this time
Chloe Carter has a couple of problems. Well, maybe more than a couple, but letís just start off with these:
1. In order to receive her inheritance from her Uncle she must get her graduate degree. Because she likes to help people she chooses a degree in Social Work. This may or may not prove to be her niche in life (thereís an overload of classes and homework...even an internship-ugh!), though she does find ways to put her newfound knowledge to use as time goes by.
2. She seems to be sex/man/relationship hungry, and hungry for fabulous food. This will lead into a bad situation--getting back at a boyfriend-who-wasnít-a-boyfriend by signing up with an online dating service only to have her blind date (Eric) get murdered in the menís room of the restaurant he was going to invest in. But, things may turn around--she meets the chef, er man, (Josh) of her dreams after the funeral at the wake at Eric's parentsí (another problem in itself!) house. Only thing is he may be a suspect.
These problems will sort of intertwine with each other as she decides to do a little digging, ask a few questions, and get to the bottom of who murdered Eric so she can get on with her possible future with Josh. What it will lead to is more questions as the answers donít make sense and point fingers in several different directions. And in between all this she goes to school, decides to paint her decorated challenged condo, and oh yes, is sexually frustrated.
Steamed isnít your typical cozy mystery or chick lit mystery. Probably because Chloe isnít your typical female protagonist from either mystery sub-genre. Sheís your typical funny, sarcastic, empathetic, sometimes pathetic, caring, revenge getting, loves her food, wears her heart on her sleeve, sex/relationship hungry, gotta figure this out type of girl (oops! woman). Sheís a 21st century woman. Letís just say sheís not boring.
Neither is this story. As Iíve pointed out, there is a vast array of things to satisfy many different readers tastes.
Although much of the story focused on Chloe and her dating and school woes (I presume to enable us to get to know the inner Chloe), the mystery wasnít left on the back burner (no pun intended) too often or too long. Chloe was imaginative in her sleuthing and in her reasoning. And in the end, she helped Detective Hurley nab the perp. Or did she? Did he? Did they?
On the whole I really enjoyed the story and its characters, I just donít think Iím as 21st century in my thinking and actions as Chloe and her friends are.
Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conat give us a new chick lit cozy mystery series to enjoy. Their collaboration is seamless without a glitch or hiccup to be found in the flow of the story. In addition to some fun and eccentric characters, theyíve mixed into the recipe the right amounts of humor, suspense, romance, and culinary flavor to make this new series pleasing to the palate.
Steamed is fresh and funny with its own unique twist. No cookie cutter series here.
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