Playing With Bonbon Fire: A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery by Dorothy St. James

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 
Crooked Lane Books (March 13, 2018) 
Hardcover: 352 pages ISBN-13: 978-1683314684 
Digital ASIN: B074MBXLWX 

Chocoholic Charity Penn must smoke out the killer to stop her newly inherited beachside chocolate shop from going up in flames in Dorothy St. James’ decadent follow-up to Asking for Truffle.
Chocolate shop owner Charity Penn is finally settling into life in the quirky South Carolina seaside town of Camellia Beach cooking up chocolate treats. She’s even helped organize the town’s lively beach music festival which has brought rollicking crowds eager to dance the Carolina shag. That is, until one of the band’s lead singers is found dead beside a beach bonfire.
While also trying to balance the amorous attention of music star Bixby Lewis, in town for the festival, and her quest to perfect a new hot flavored bonbon, Charity dives into the investigation. Though it’s more spice than sugar when she discovers a threatening note, comes across decades of age-old secrets, and Bixby comes into the line of fire when a gas grill explodes on the deck of a beachfront house.
Now Charity must turn up the heat and catch the killer before her chance melts away in Playing With Bonbon Fire, the delightful second Southern Chocolate Shop mystery served up just right for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.

 Excerpt from PLAYING WITH BONBON FIRE by Dorothy St. James
Crooked Lane Books
March 13, 2018

One of my uncles had already tried to use violence to get me out of the picture in order to hurry the sale of the property. So the thought that one of Mabel’s greedy children had tossed the rock through the window in an attempt to scare me into packing my bags and going home shouldn’t have surprised me.
The joke was on them, though. I didn’t have a home to go back to. My father’s side of the family made sure I’d never feel at home in any of the Penn mansions. My half sister Tina was the only member of my family who treated me with kindness.
If not for her, Bixby Lewis wouldn’t be standing in my shop right now.
“If this rock was aimed at you, we need to report it,” I said to him. “Even if it’s just a threat from an overzealous fan, we have to keep you safe.”
“Penn’s right. I hate to say it, but we need to tell Hank Byrd,” Bertie agreed.
“Not him.” Just the thought of talking with Camellia Beach’s police chief made me groan. According to Byrd, crime hadn’t existed in his quaint beach town until I’d moved in.
While he didn’t suspect me of breaking any laws, he blamed me for bringing criminals into town with me. The arrival of Bixby Lewis and his crazy stalker fan would only add fuel to that ridiculous theory of his.
Even so, Bertie was right. I needed to make that call.
“No!” Bixby grabbed my wrist and pulled the cell phone out of my hand before I had the chance to punch in the numbers. “Don’t tell anyone. The publicity will only cause more crazies to crawl out of their hidey holes to make trouble. Trust me on this one. I deal with this almost every day.”
“Son, someone tosses rocks through your window on a daily basis? That would burn my biscuits,” Bertie drawled in her lovely, deep Southern voice.
I introduced Bixby to Bertie and explained how he was a singing star of mega proportions.
“I know who he is,” Bertie fussed. “I might be old, but there’s nothing wrong with my hearing. I listen to the radio. I love your ‘Honey Got a Hold on Me’ tune. Listen to it while folding my laundry.” She tossed back her head and belted out the refrain, which included a description of the singer going back to his girlfriend’s house and making the walls tremble. It sounded quite naughty coming from someone well over seventy years old.
Bixby’s cheeks turned beet red as he politely thanked her for enjoying his work.
I giggled. I often giggled inappropriately when I got nervous.
He smiled kindly in my direction before saying, “Don’t worry about the window. I’ll replace it. In the meantime, I’d rather focus on celebrating great beach music than wasting time talking with the police.”
“But—” I started to protest.
“I’m fine, Penn.” He put his hand on my shoulder in the same way Bertie had earlier...

 A new beach music festival (or is it) to attract tourists and bring in much needed income to Camellia Beach brings up questions of why would a swoon-worthy and much loved and followed musician be doing a small town concert. A quandary of parentage issues continues for chocolate shop heiress Charity Penn (call me Penn!) while she struggles to learn her craft. Accidents, shattered windows and attempted murders combine with missing persons to plague this seaside community, leading the Chief of Police to swear all this trouble followed Penn to the island. 
Will it be possible for Penn to build a life for herself here?

Swirls of complications at every step as Penn tries to build a life and business for herself and understand her beginnings. Her half sister, Tina, thinks she is helping even as she sets Penn up with not only a headliner but also a romantic partner. Unfortunately that pairing brings additional trouble to Penn's doorstep. 
I loved the friendship situations but everything is underlined with secrets. Penn has her work cut out for her, not only physically but also emotionally and intellectually. We couldn't take anything at surface value during this pot-boiler. Even as a murder is solved and people reappear, I still have questions about how this will play out in future books. 
I do believe that enjoying quality chocolate while you read is a MUST with this series.

About the Author

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, a neurotic 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.
Known for the White House Gardener Mystery series, Dorothy is going back to her roots and setting a mystery series in a Southern beach town much like the one she’s called home for the past 20 years. The Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries combine her love of fine chocolates, quirky Southern charm, with a dash of danger.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of the award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader's Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: "amazing", "perfect", "filled with emotion", and "lined with danger."

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