Venom & Vanilla by Shannon Mayer

Venom & Vanilla by Shannon Mayer
(The Venom Trilogy Book 1)
Publisher: 47North
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

Successful Seattle baker Alena Budrene doesn’t want to die. But when she’s infected with a lethal virus spread by supernatural beings, her only chance for recovery is to make a deal with the devil—or in this case, a warlock.

Though he saves her life, it looks nothing like the life she once knew—and neither does she. Alena is a new breed of “Supe” no one has ever seen before. Even the supernatural police don’t know what she is. Now exiled to the northern side of the Wall, which marks the divide between humans and Supes, Alena is thrust into a dark and magical new world.

But just as she begins to adjust to all things supernatural, she realizes that her transformation is the least of her worries—and it was no accident. She was chosen…to be killed by a Greek hero trying to make a name for himself once more.

Alena was brought up to be subservient, preferring creating to fighting, and vanilla and honey to blood. But that was then. Now, to survive, she must stand up for herself—and this time she’s got fangs. But will she be ready to use them?

Alena had what seemed like a great life; a “nice” husband, a successful bakery, and a wonderful family. She was content in her small corner of the world, and not concerned with much outside of it. However, things drastically changed once she became infected by a virus that kills humans and spares supernaturals. After she accepts a “cure” to save her life, she’s thrown into a world she has no knowledge of. Can she adjust to her new life and find out what she’s become before it’s too late?

The humor in this book is fantastic. Witty banter and sarcasm are a hallmark of my favorite urban fantasy and paranormal romance books – Ms. Mayer did not disappoint in that regard. Remo and Alena had some particularly hilarious one-liners. Yaya was the queen of banter though (sarcastic badass grandmas are AMAZING). The humor does border on being a bit childish at times (Alena insists on referring to supernaturals as “super dupers”, which kills the intimidating factor a bit) but that aspect didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story too much.

The worldbuilding in this book is great too. The conflict between humans and “Super-Dupers” is integral to the story – in both a literal sense (with the wall built to keep them separate) and a metaphorical sense (humans are dying in droves because of the virus that supernaturals spread). I enjoyed some of the plot twists that the author incorporated into the story (especially those related to how the virus works). This book has so many supernatural creatures there is sure to be something for even the pickiest of paranormal romance readers. There are vampires, warlocks, werewolves, shifters and so much more! It also has elements of mythology from around the world, which made it a very entertaining read. I appreciated how it wasn’t limited to just one mythology (i.e., Greek) – it borrowed multiple elements from multiple cultures and blended them seamlessly. As a die-hard mythology fan, it was fun to see figures from myth and legend in an urban, contemporary setting.

One of my favorite audiobook narrators, Saskia Maarleveld, narrated this book and it was another awesome performance. If you are a fan of audiobooks, I would recommend checking that option out. However, if you’re not already an audiobook fan then the format is up to you. There are no special effects or other aspects that you would be missing out on by not listening to the audiobook.

Overall, Venom & Vanilla is a fantastic paranormal romance read I would happily recommend to others. I look forward to reading the subsequent books in the Venom trilogy as soon as possible to find out what happens next in the story.

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