Wednesday, October 19, 2022

TBR Challenge: Chelsea Field - Eat, Pray, Die

Being an undercover poison taster for the rich and famous might sound glamorous, but for Isobel Avery it means stomaching bad clients and even worse coffee.
The one side of the job that lives up to expectations is the money. Which is just as well for Izzy, since she needs an awful lot of it. Who knew when she made a lifelong commitment to a man that it would be one year living with him and the rest of her life paying for it?
But even her scoundrel ex-husband doesn’t look so bad compared to her new client. He’s competent, condescending, and annoyingly attractive, and Izzy doesn’t know whether to sleep with him or poison him herself. Throw in a loan-shark, a nosy neighbor, and a murder attempt, and Izzy will have her work cut out for her.

Comment: It's been practically six years since I got interested in this book, in a very aloof manner, after seeing some comments by someone who liked it. I remember the person found this story cute and now, after all this time, reading the TBR challenge's theme for this month as "flirting with danger" I thought a light comedy with action scenes would fit this quite well.

In this cozy mystery/ comedy action we meet heroine Isobel "Izzy" Avery, an Australian who traveled all the way to the US to escape the loan company she owes a lot of money to, all because of her ex husband, who deceived her and left her a huge debt. Izzy knows she will have to pay but for that she need to have the money and when the chance to earn it comes along, she doesn't say no.
Izzy becomes a taste tester for poison thanks to a weird feature in her blood or organism which makes her more tolerant than regular people and this makes her a perfect employee for the company Taste, which works with the wealthier people in California. Her new boss is in charge of the cases going their way and Izzy is his partner for he can't be a taster. Their first case seems to be divided between two famous chefs, while they also investigate what happened to Izzy's mentor while she was learning about being a Taster... but could it be the two cases are connected after all?

At first, I confess the story wasn't grabbing me but perhaps it had something to do with other distractions around me the moment I've started... as soon as I could focus better, the story started to feel more interesting and fun to read. What felt slightly silly became something cozier and I started to like Izzy a lot more as well. This is told in first person by Izzy but I've found her "voice" to be appealing, which is half way to make a story more successful to me when the narrator is in first person.

I'd describe this as being along the lines of a cozy mystery... something not totally set on the usual "iron rules" of most thrillers or mysteries, so anyone reading it can suspend disbelief a bit... but as Izzy went on her learning adventure on what it means to be a Taster, I think the "flirting with danger" theme felt like a good fit... Avery does use her skills, not as a flirt per se, but as likable person and what could be a complicated situation, feels funnier and easier to follow.

The mystery content was intriguing enough, but clearly the author's intention was on keeping things simple and with a lot crazy stuff so that the clues don't become too obvious too quickly. There's Izzy's older funny neighbor, there's her boss who is both very confident and helpful, there's the enforcer-styled guy who is sent by the shark loaner so that Izzy doesn't forget about her debt and there's the way Izzy deals with suspects, namely one of the famous chef, who turns out to be a weird guy and possibly a rapist as well. All these elements are combined in such a way that it feels as if a lot is ongoing, but the actual advance is quite little.

Of course the funny part of to see how Izzy deals with everything and it is true some scenes are very cute and sometimes silly, but in the good sense of the word. I also liked how there are so many little things which allow us to make up our minds about the characters. For instance, Izzy might seem a flirty immature person who got herself involved with a shark loaner, but we learn how that came to be and we also learn she cares about her parents, thus the distance, so make whomever looks for her to realize her parents are innocent.

There is also a bit of romance hinted at here and there. Izzy and her boss Connor seem to have a complicated relationship in the sense he acts as if he's so much more mature and knowledgeable but her skills are unique, so he needs her help. It is obvious they will become more than boss and employee (to be clear: she works for the Taste company which Connor hired, meaning there isn't a direct employee/boss connection if one thinks about the legal and moral aspects), but I assume the intensity of their feelings will increase as the installments go...

I can imagine the future books will go along these lines too, small things advancing the reader's opinion on the characters and the things they have to do while a lot of quirky situations and things seem to be just a distraction until the mysteries are solved. I think I will read the next one too and if that one is as interesting, I'll probably finish the series. This isn't the most complex story, no, but for those who like the genre it is a very entertaining and ingenious story.
All in all, a good story for me. 
Grade: 8/10


  1. "as soon as I could focus better, the story started to feel more interesting and fun to read. What felt slightly silly became something cozier and I started to like Izzy a lot more as well. This is told in first person by Izzy but I've found her "voice" to be appealing, which is half way to make a story more successful to me when the narrator is in first person."

    Every word of this! I call myself a 'mood reader', because sometimes when I can't connect with a book, I know it's not that the book isn't good/well written/appealing/what have you; it's that my brain is not there for it. Once I'm 'in the mood' for that book, it usually turns out to be a good experience.

    And double YES! for needing to like the protagonist(s) when a book is in first person; if I wouldn't spend time with that person in real life, no way I'll spend my leisure time with them.

    Glad this worked out for you.

    1. Hi! Thanks for commenting :)
      It is true.... one of the pet peeves, let's say so, that bothers me the most in romance novels is the first person narrator. So often the protagonist isn't that special or well characterized that I want to know their thoughts....
      In here, it works because the focus isn't romance, that is a bonus, and I liked it because it's sort of realistic, no one can live with just lust or love thoughts in one's head! lol

    2. Exactly! We have many every day concerns, from grocery runs to paying bills or doing the laundry, let alone work or family stuff; even at our most horny, there is brain power going elsewhere.