Title: Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: March 13, 2017
Genre(s): Horror, Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
A monster moves through the night, hidden by the darkness, taking men, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.
Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon Café. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!
As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?
The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.
As a horror story, Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe succeeds beautifully. The gruesome murders of gay men in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood are horrifyingly described through the senses of the killer, and scenes with the killer hunting victims are of the “Run, for gawd’s sake, RUN!” variety. I don’t think I’m giving away too much of the plot to say this story features werewolves, not shifters and alphas and mating and whatnot, just your basic terrifying creature that goes bump in the night … and then tears someone’s lungs out.
Where the story doesn’t work for me is in the romance aspect. Thad meets Sam Lupino at his family’s Blue Moon Cafe and is charmed by the swarthy Sicilian who makes a mean arancini di riso con ricott and later, is an animal in bed. They soon begin an intense relationship but only a few weeks into dating, Thad becomes very paranoid about Sam going away for a weekend without telling him. Because we only get Thad’s POV throughout, Sam feels very much like a mystery and Thad spends a lot of time pondering and obsessing which really slowed down the steady pace created by the suspenseful murder mystery.
As Thad continually worries about Sam, he also vacillates in his feelings for his relatively new friend Jared: “Jared was simple and uncomplicated. He made Thad laugh. He was close to his own age, and in spite of Thad’s passionate entanglement with Sam, Jared was sexy as hell.” This shift from the friend zone to a tease of a relationship (and back again, more than once) feels forced IMHO.