Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2
on November 13th 2015
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Renee Raudman
Length: 10 hrs 57 min
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Dina Demille, Innkeeper of Gertrude Hunt, bed-and-breakfast for supernaturals, is approached by an arbitrator to host the Nexus summit. Nexus is a mineral rich rock that has been settled by two battling entities, the vampires and otrokar, also known as the Hope Crushing Horde. It is also settled by the Merchants of Baha-char who bleed profits off the vampires and otrokar to get their minerals off the planet. After decades of vicious battling for control of the Nexus, all parties have agreed to a sit down conference. All the other Innkeepers have refused to allow these parties into their Inns for fear of bloodshed, not only between the parties, but for the safety of their other guests and staff. That leads the arbitrators to Dina’s door. With only a 3 1/2 star rating on her tiny Inn, Dina knows a successful summit will be a huge boost to her Inn and will bring in many more guests. The money for a successful summit will also help her be able to make improvements. So Dina agrees to the crazy risk to her life and to her future.
The vampire Marshall Lord Arland, who we met in the first story, is among the Vampires of the House Krahr who are in attendance. There is also Nuan Cee and his family representing the Merchants of Baha-char, who we also met in the first story. The otrokar or their PR friendlier name, the Hope Crushing Horde, are a new introduction to the series.
Another new introduction, who is easily my new favorite character, is the top level, Red Cleaver Chef who Dina was able to hire for the summit. She was desperate and was told that Orro was in hiding after he lost his Red Cleaver standing after one of his guests was poisoned. Dina was truly desperate and goes in search of Orro. Orro is a Quillonian which is humanoid creature, sort of a mix between a dog and porcupine and he is also a prima dona. He has the best drama queen moments over everything. He has got to stay in this series. Orro likes playing the martyr but Dina uses his own vanity to convince him that only he could succeed in the challenge of serving these warring parties and keeping them in culinary bliss.
Dina does everything possible to keep the peace between the parties and risks life and limb for them. What Dina doesn’t know is that there are certain parties who are determined that the summit fail and the arbitrator who is determined that it is successful. And none of them are concerned that Dina and her Inn may become collateral damage.
I thought Orro was hysterical and the narrator did a wonderful job of playing up his drama queen/hissy fits beautifully. We have to keep him. Have. To.
Although it started a bit slow while Dina used magic to revise the inn for the guests, created a ballroom, hired Orro (love him), once the guests arrived there was a lot going on in this story. While logic told us, the readers, that this war was not winnable and that a “you keep on your side and we’ll keep on our side” solution would be perfect, there are decades of spilled blood and lost love ones and thoughts of them are what are keeping the parties from agreeing to any thing less than complete domination of the planet. So it kept you guessing how they would finally get a resolution.
We were missing Sean Evans, the werewolf, who left Dina with a kiss at the end of Clean Sweep and wanted to get out into the wide galaxy for a look around. Dina spent what little free time she had lamenting where he went and if he would come back and we wondered too if he was going to show his face, especially since Lord Arland was there again trying to stake a claim on Dina. We do get to see Sean again but not until very, very late in the story.
I am enjoying the series. My only hope is that we don’t get stuck on characters. The potential for new storylines and characters is endless and yet the first story after the initial set up novel included characters staying at the inn who we met in the prior book. Yes, it is good to bring back characters that the readers already know, but I am hoping the future books will only contain Dina, Sean, Orro and Caldenia and then branch out with new visitors each time. I would hate to see it stuck in a rut so soon.
The Quillonian surveyed my kitchen. I wasn’t familiar enough with Quillonian faces to identify his expression with one hundred percent accuracy, but if I had to guess, it would fall somewhere between shock, disgust, and despair.
The Quillonian heaved a deep sigh. “You expect me to cook here?”
He closed his eyes for a long moment. “Pantry?” he asked, his eyes still closed.
“Through here.” I pointed at the door in the wall.
He opened his eyes, glanced at the doorway through which we came and which showed the wall to be about six inches wide, and stared at the door. “Is this a joke?”
His clawed hand closed over the handle and he resolutely flung it open. A five hundred square foot space stretched in front of him, its nine foot high walls lined with metal shelves supporting an assortment of pots, pans, dishes, and cooking utensils. Dry goods waited like soldiers on parade, each in a clear plastic container with a label. An industrial size chest freezer sat against the wall next to two refrigerators.
The Quillonian closed the door, marched back to the doorway, examined the wall, came back, and opened the door again. He stared at the pantry for a long moment, shut the door quickly, and jerked it open. The pantry was still there. Magic was a wonderful thing.
The Quillonian carefully extended his left leg and put his foot onto the floor of the pantry as if expecting it to grow teeth and gulp him down. Contrary to his expectations, the floor remained solid.
“Well?” I asked.
“It will suffice,” he said. “Who shall I expect to serve this morning?”
“Me and Caldenia. Possibly the Arbiter and his party as well. He mentioned three people.”
“Caldenia?” His spikes stood up. “Caldenia ka ret Magren? Letere Olivione?”
“Yes. Will that be a problem?”
“I have never had the pleasure to serve her, but I certainly know of her. She’s one of the most renowned gastronomes in the Galaxy. Her palate is the definition of refinement.”
I wondered what he would say if he knew the owner of this refined palate frequently indulged in binging on Mello Yello and Funyuns. “The inn will help you. If you need something, ask for it.” I raised my voice. “I need a two liter pot, please.”
The correct pot slid to the front of the middle shelf.
“I’ll need a gastronomical coagulator, please,” the Quillonian said.
Nothing moved. The Quillonian glanced at me. “Nothing’s happening.”
“We don’t have one.” The only coagulator I knew about was used in surgeries.
“You expect me to serve vampires and Caldenia without a coagulator?”
“A spherification device?”
“I don’t even know what that is.”
“It’s a device that creates spheres by submerging drops of a liquid in a solution such as calcium chloride, causing the drops to form a solid skin over the liquid center. They pop in your mouth under the pressure of your teeth.”
I shook my head.
“Do you at least possess an electromagnetic scale?”
He shook his hands. “Well, what do you have?”
“Pots, pans, knives, bowls, measuring cups, and silverware. Also some baking pans and molds.”
The Quillonian rocked back and stared at the ceiling. “The gods are mocking me.”
Not again. “It’s a challenge.”
He flexed his arms, his elbows bent, his clawed arms pointing to the sky. “Very well. Like a primitive savage, who sets out to tame the wilderness armed with nothing but a knife and his indomitable will, I will persevere. I will wrestle victory from the greedy jaws of defeat. I will rise like a bird of prey upon the current of the wind, my talons raised for the kill, and I shall strike true.”
Oh wow. I hope the inn filmed that.
“When do you normally have your morning meal?”
The clock told me it was four in the morning. “In about three hours.”
“Breakfast shall be served in three hours.” He hung his head. “You may call me Orro. Good day.”
“Good day, chef.”
I left the kitchen and went up the stairway. I was so tired, if I didn’t get some sleep, I’d start to hallucinate.
Caldenia emerged from her side of the stairs. “Dina, there you are.”
“Yes, your Grace?”
A metal pot banged in the kitchen.
Caldenia frowned. “Wait, if you are here, who is in the kitchen?”
“Daniel Boone, cooking with his talons.”
“I love your sense of humor. Who it is really?”
“A Quillonian former Red Cleaver chef. His name is Orro and he’ll be handling the food for the banquet.”
Caldenia smiled. “A Quillonian chef. My dear, you shouldn’t have. Well, you should have years ago, but one mustn’t be petty. Finally. I shall be dining in a style to which I am suited. Fantastic. Does he have moral scruples? I am reasonably sure that this summit will result in at least one murder, and I have never tasted an otrokar.”
“Let me get back to you on that.”