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All U Can Eat, by Emma Holly

I had read only a couple of short stories by Ms Holly (“The Night Owl”, in the Hot Blooded anthology, and “The Countess’ Pleasure” in the Hot Spell anthology) before reading this novel, so I had an idea what to expect from her writing. Still, I was nicely surprised by the reality of it.

The usual warning though: This book, considered more erotica than romance, is funny and graphic and definitely not for the faint of heart—or at least, not for the prude and faint of heart. Did I mention graphic? Minors, this is not for you.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Frankie Smith’s longtime boyfriend just left her for another woman, but she doesn’t have much time to nurse her broken heart. Her diner, All U Can Eat, is as popular as ever, and the people of Six Palms want their appetites satisfied…

When the body of a wealthy local woman is discovered in a nearby alley, it’s Frankie who falls under suspicion. But the truth is, chief Jack West has an all-consuming attraction to the sexy proprietor—and he knows placing her under arrest isn’t going to improve his chances of winning her.

Determined to clear her name—and to get to know the ultra-responsible police chief better—Frankie joins Jack on a roller-coaster ride of an investigation, uncovering Six Palms’ raciest secrets. And as the twists and turns are revealed, letting go of their inhibitions begins to seem like the most natural thing in the world…

For those keeping track: this blurb isn’t more than half way accurate. Frankie is not the only suspect and she doesn’t investigate the murder.

Frankie is understandably upset when, a short week after her boyfriend dumped her, she realizes that he did so because he impregnated another woman. In the next 20 hrs or so, she hires a stranger as a short-order cook, breaks down, is thoroughly comforted and reassured, and finds a body in the alley behind her dinner. Really, there are times when it doesn’t pay to work late.

As Jack starts investigating the murder, he discovers much more than he ever wanted to know about a goodly number of the citizens under his purview—including the woman he’s wanted for his own for about a year, pretty much since he was hired by the city.

The sexual gymnastics—and all the attendant complications—are both hilarious and moving. I bow to Ms Holly’s talent. I would have never believed that I could care so much for the happiness of characters who spend so much time going at it with everyone in sight. And yet, I do. Funny, that.

Obviously, there is a catch to enjoy this novel. There is one big suspension of disbelief required from the get go: everyone you meet has somewhat unusual sexual fantasies and urges, and is not afraid to indulge them—by themselves or with assistance from someone else. But then again, as one character memorably says, “Everyone has their kinks.”

Oh, and there are a couple of plotlines running throughout, both with the investigation and with Frankie and Jack. You’ll be happy to know the case is closed.

8 out of 10

You can get All U Can Eat from Amazon.com here and from Amazon UK here.

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