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Friday, February 4, 2011

Vegetarian at Midnight by Sandra Sookoo

Vegetarian at Midnight by Sandra Sookoo
(sequel to The Art of Fang Shui)
Publisher: Eirelander Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Length: Full Length (201 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Review by: Poinsettia

Sometimes the love of meat is only the beginning of the problem.

Sophia has issues beyond being near-sighted. Bound to work for a power-hungry Portal Master for the next 90 years, her crown-shaped birthmark might set her apart, but her vegetarian lifestyle make her unforgettable. She can’t afford to be distracted by Xavier’s Adonis-like features because she knows she’ll betray him eventually.

Golden-curled, fedora-wearing Xavier’s a man with issues. Under a gypsy curse that compels him to morph into a werewolf, he wants nothing more than to convince the Portal Master to lift the blight. The only way to that exulted individual is through Sophia, but her stubbornness and fearful disposition heat his blood and annoy him at the same time.

Passions and problems collide while both Sophia and Xavier rise up to meet their destiny. Fighting a fallen angel and the Immortal Court, only the strong will come out alive.

Fate has thrown Sophia and Xavier together, but will they survive the encounter?

Vegetarian at Midnight starts off and a run and never lets up. In the first few pages, I learned that not only is Sophia the key to lifting Xavier’s curse, but she is also his soul mate. Xavier is definitely a take charge kind of guy and immediately makes himself known to Sophia.

However, their first encounter doesn’t go as smoothly as he planned. Xavier arrogantly assumes that Sophia will do everything he says simply because he insists they are mates. In fact, I found his alpha male attitude quite irritating at times. Sophia has no idea what to think about Xavier. While she admits she has a powerful physical attraction to him, she isn’t sure she believes they are mates. I was pleased to discover that she had no intention of letting Xavier boss her around.

Despite her doubts about Xavier, Sophia has a soft spot for paranormals in trouble, so she agrees to help him lift his curse. However, time is not on their side. If Xavier doesn’t have the potion by midnight on All Hallows Eve, he’ll remain a werewolf for the rest of his life. As if that weren’t enough, Sophia and Xavier must also contend with Sterling, the Portal Master, a man intent on ruining Sophia’s life. The difficulty of finding the ingredients combined with the time limit and Sterling’s interference provided excellent tension and kept me turning pages. As Sophia and Xavier struggle along on their quest, their personalities clash while the chemistry between them sparks. Will Sophia and Xavier be able to learn to work together, or will they let their differences tear them apart?

Sophia is definitely a different heroine. I really like the fact that she isn’t beautiful in the conventional sense. While she is reasonably attractive physically, it was refreshing to find her true worth lay in such things as her bravery, loyalty, and need to protect other paranormals. A weaker woman would have wasted away under the stress of working for a tyrant like Sterling, but Sophia is very clever and manages to find loopholes in her job description that allow her to protect other paranormals. Her refusal to let Sterling completely rule her life is very admirable. While I have a high regard for Sophia’s strengths, she was not without her flaws. She often doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut, which gets her into trouble. Her desire to protect other paranormals is also a bit of a weakness. In her efforts to keep others safe, she often takes on too much by herself. Her refusal to trust others has made her life much more difficult and lonely than it would have been otherwise. These flaws serve to make Sophia a more rounded and relatable character, and I enjoyed watching her grow and learn to trust not only Xavier, but herself as well.

Xavier is definitely a strong hero. His alpha male attitude is definitely over the top. His insistence that “he is the dominant one in the relationship” was maddening. However, I did eventually soften up a bit toward him. Even though Xavier is bossy and controlling at times, his misguided behavior is rooted in a desire to protect and care for Sophia. While I didn’t always agree with Xavier’s methods, I was pleased to discover he has a good heart underneath it all.

I did have one issue with the story. Sophia and Xavier spent a great deal of their time together arguing. While conflicts between the hero and heroine can add a great deal of tension to a story, I felt that it was taken to the extreme in Sophia and Xavier’s case. They were having serious disagreements on major issues and they hadn’t even had a chance to get to know each other yet. Xavier kept insisting he and Sophia were destined to be together, but honestly it was hard to see that at times. However, I was very happy to find that Sophia and Xavier did find their happily ever after, but it was certainly a rough road getting there.

Despite this issue, I enjoyed reading Vegetarian at Midnight. Ms. Sookoo created a world full of unusual paranormals and feisty characters. Fans of Ms. Sookoo’s work will not be disappointed.