All Night Inn
My expectations of All Night Inn by Janet Miller were sky-high. I’m an avid reader of vampire fiction, and I’ve read some wonderful books by this author under her pseudonym Cricket Starr. All Night Inn was a sure bet, I thought. Unfortunately, I lost that bet.
Sharon Colson, a psychic and a singer, is broke and in dire need of a job when her car breaks down stranding her in Los Niños de la Noche, a tiny Californian coastal town. Sharon applies for the bartender’s job at the nearby All Night Inn, but there’s a catch to the position. The inn mostly caters to paranormal folks, and the innkeeper, Jonathan Knottmann, is a handsome vampire. In order to get the job, Sharon must accept Jonathan’s mark and become his “companion.” The mark will protect Sharon from any rough customers; without it she’d be fair game for all. Sharon quickly agrees to the deal, even though she’s not too thrilled with what carrying the mark and being a vampire’s companion entails.
Jonathan Knottmann prefers being called a “nightwalker” to the “V”-word. For three hundred years, he has led a pleasant life, although admittedly, he misses eating the normal variety of food and seeing the sun. But what are movies and DVDs for, after all? He deals with the food monotony by creating fancy, blood-serum based drinks to jazz up the dreary blood taste. These drinks also are the reason for the great success of the All Night Inn, attracting all kinds of paranormal gourmets. Jonathan’s male companion, Marcus, provides him with high-quality companion-blood while regular “clients” – adventurous humans seeking the vampire kick – round out his nutritional chart. Pretty Sharon with her psychic powers sparks his interest, both nutritionally and sexually.
The cast of players in All Night Inn isn’t anything new to well-versed fans of the genre, although I think less jaded fans will get a kick out of the setting. I know I was enthralled when I first discovered the worlds of Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris. Nightwalkers, shapeshifters, and spellcasters co-exist but cherish their own sub-culture and Janet Miller added some fetching twists to the familiar scenery. Unfortunately, she chose not to explore those possibilities beyond the superficial setup. It’s not a good sign when unimaginative me mentally runs alternative scenarios while reading, instead of simply going along with the author’s. Hints about up-and-coming events and conflicts got my hopes up, only to be deflated when the action didn’t live up to the anticipation. The discrepancy between the author’s telling and my perception was frustrating.
Jonathan and Sharon’s characters left me cold, and their relationship developed quite predictably. Their chemistry felt lukewarm, and I couldn’t bring myself to care much about them and their emotional baggage, which is revealed in long-winded internal monologues. A commendable, but unengaging character, I found Sharon’s actions at the beginning a bit TSTL, especially taking her sad experiences (repeatedly hinted at) into consideration. Neither Jonathan’s past tragedy (repeatedly hinted at) nor his nice, prosaic personality could hold my rapidly fading interest. His only intriguing trait was that he happened to be a vampire with uncompromising feeding habits. Though his blunt, matter-of-fact dealing with his needs made me somewhat queasy, it was a surprisingly realistic and interesting touch to this otherwise forgettable book.
All Night Inn did have potential, but alas, some cute details aren’t enough. The inanimate plotting and main characters made for an uninspiring read, and I was more bored than anything as I read. However, for a more accomplished reading adventure, I recommend you check out Nemesis of the Garden by the same author, written under the name Cricket Starr. It’s a lovely Greek myth romantica, charming, mischievous and vibrant, with two astonishingly flawed and irresistible protagonists. Everything All Night Inn, sadly, is not.