Book Reviews

Dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe by Rick R. Reed at NineStar Press

Genre Gay / Paranormal / Shifters / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 19-October-2020

Book Blurb

A monster moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from Seattle’s gay gathering areas.

In an atmosphere of spine-tingling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love cooking in an Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and…he can cook!


As the pair’s love heats up, so do the questions. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And, more important, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?


When the secrets are finally revealed, is Thad and Sam’s love for one another strong enough to weather the horrific revelations revealed by the light of the full moon?


Warning: Scenes of graphic violence and gore

First edition published as The Blue Moon Cafe by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2010.

Second edition published by Dreamspinner Press, March 2017.

Book Review

There are quite a few ways to describe this book, and I still don’t know which is the best one. I could call this an “entertaining murder mystery with a paranormal touch” or “a suspenseful romance with elements of horror” or even “a werewolf love story without fated mates”. All of these descriptions only get to part of the truth though, so I am afraid I’ll have to leave it as “an unusual novel” and recommend you read it yourself and come up with your own description. While there are elements of horror in the story, they are not overwhelming (even for someone like me who is not a fan of the horror genre), nor are they gratuitous. Instead, the “monstrous” aspects are an integral part of the progression of events, the reason for the characters’ growth, and, after all, werewolves are usually not “nice” people, right?
Thad pretty much drifts along in life until he meets Sam, then Jared. He is attracted to both men, for very different reasons, and a large part of his struggle is having to make a decision which man he wants to end up with. What fascinated me about Thad was that he was honest with himself, managed not to give in to temptation when Jared seemed like the "easier" lover, and that he really grew when facing the dilemma whether to go with Sam at the end - despite everything - or take the easy path and stay with Jared.

Sam is a great character as well, though he does not have a "voice". His large Italian family owns the Blue Moon Café, and they are a big part of Sam’s life – although it takes Thad quite a while to figure out why. Sam is slightly mysterious, clearly torn by something, and does the right thing to protect Thad when push comes to shove. He is an intriguing man from any angle, but don’t expect clarity about him until the very end.
While the POV of the "monster" is intermittent (and gruesome since it provides a direct view of all the murders), it is very well managed and brings the "horror" aspects of this story to the fore. In that sense, it became a primary character in its own right, since its existence and actions were an essential part of the story line.

Even though I strongly suspected early on that Sam and his family were most likely werewolves (just look at their family name – Lupino) and one of them was the killer, the actual details were well managed and kept me in suspense. The pacing is excellent - hints are revealed slowly and all make sense. On top of all that, Thad struggles with his feelings for Sam, and their ending up together is not a foregone conclusion, adding another layer of suspense. I was pulled in from the start - which seemed entirely ordinary, almost boring. And that was exactly what Thad's life was like before he met Sam, so don’t be fooled by the “harmlessness” exhibited in the initial pages!

If you like a clever murder mystery and a nontraditional romance in one, if you want to see a character really struggle with what he wants in life and who the right partner is for him, and if you’re looking for a read that is intriguing, suspenseful, full of revelations, contains food descriptions to die for, and stars a brilliant dog who has figured it all out from the very beginning, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do. I think it’s brilliant and well worth a read.





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 66700 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 19-October-2020
Price $5.99 ebook
Buy Link