Asking for Truffle
A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery #1
Dorothy St. James
Crooked Lane Books, September 12, 2017, release
Kindle ed, 304 pages, paperback also available
Genre(s) Cozy Mystery
Source Author's Rep (NetGalley)

Other books in this series: none as yet

Synopsis:  
When Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town's seaside chocolate shop, The Chocolate Box, she's immediately skeptical. She never entered any contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize--only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate. 

Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the Southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn's quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she's learning to love. Rich and decadent, Asking for Truffle, the first in a new cozy series by Dorothy St. James, is sure to be a delectable read for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.
About the Author:  
Pseudonym for author Dorothy McFalls

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, tiny little dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn't as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time. 


My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author's representative. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  4-Stars
The heroine in this book starts life trying to beat the stigma attached to her name. Her "loving family" has given her the moniker Charity Penn and treats her like a charity case. They ignore her as much as they possibly can. Only her half-sister Tina has anything to do with her. In fact, she calls her every day when she is away, just to be sure she is all right.

She's recently split from her mafia-type boyfriend, Erik, the Cheese King. His parting gift was a nasty little dog, Stella. She does look over her shoulder from time to time to see if he has sent anyone after her.

She's had this letter about winning a trip to Camellia Beach and some chocolate making lessons. Knowing she didn't enter any contest, she makes the trip to find out what it's all about. What she finds is quite a mixed bag.

On one hand, she has two very sweet older women offering her chocolate lessons and friendship. A very nice surfer dude, who sidelines as a lawyer. And a helpful detective from the county sheriff's office.

Then, on the other hand, there's the local police chief who doesn't seem to see anything wrong and developers who want to take over the land under her feet. And secrets. So many secrets.

This book had me creeping through the dark a lot. Sneaking up stairways. In the end, the bad guy gets it, though. That's one of the good things about cozies, they always have HEA.