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    Fun Read

    A fun read, ASKING FOR TRUFFLE stars a somewhat lost heroine faced with several unanswered questions. I enjoyed the beach setting, the myriad of characters, and the mystery and its conclusion. I also appreciated the message about real-world issues concerning the chocolate industry. Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book.
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    Chocolate and Mystery

    I enjoyed reading Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James her first book in her Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. This story captured my interest from the first chapter. There is really so much that goes on in the book and just when I thought I had it figured out, something else would happen. Lots of yummy recipes added that I plan to try. I genuinely enjoyed reading this book and had trouble putting this book down. The story line was riveting and kept my attention to the very end. Ms. St. James does an excellent job keeping her readers on their toes as they read her stories. I highly recommend this book to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book
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    Book one A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series

    Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James is the first story in A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. Charity Penn lives in Madison, Wisconsin with Granny Mae Stoughton who helped raise her. Penn has won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina along with cooking lessons, but she never entered a contest. She is suspicious (fears it is a scam or someone trying to get her money) and asks her best friend, Skinny McGee to check it out for her. Skinny leaves her a message stating he knows why she won the contest and to start packing her bags. He promises to call the next morning to share what he discovered. Unfortunately, Skinny is drowned in a vat of chocolate at the Chocolate Box during the night. Penn along with her dog, Stella (a barker and a biter) heads to Camellia Beach to find out what happened to her friend. Penn visits the Chocolate Box and starts taking chocolate making lessons from Mabel Maybank and her partner, Bertie Bays. But it is not all sunshine and rainbows in this small, island town. Another death occurs and Penn is dropped into the middle of a controversy. Penn needs to find the guilty party before she becomes the next casualty. Asking for Truffle had such an interesting premise. I liked the Chocolate Box, Mabel, Bertie, Althea, and the luscious sounding chocolates. Penn, on the other hand, is very unlikeable. She is prickly as a porcupine, standoffish and a whiner. Penn complains constantly about her family (I admit they leave a lot to be desired, but I tired of hearing about them), her trust issues, people wanting to get close to her because of her families’ money, her lack of cooking skills, how her grandmother dislikes her, her dislike of anything related to magic, ghosts, crystals, etc. The same details are repeated over and over (I’m surprised someone had not tried to kill her prior to this). Penn states she has learned from her past mistakes, but she keeps making the same ones. Her dog, Stella (a gift from Erik, the Cheese King) is a horror (bites everyone and barks constantly—though it does seem like a smart dog). It might help if Penn actually tried to train Stella or showed her love. Asking for Truffle would have been a better story if the author had made Mabel and Bertie the main characters. The story is too long. If all the repetition had been left out, it would have been a better length. There are actually two mysteries (the murder and a burglary). Neither are difficult to solve. Penn is lacking as a sleuth. She comes to town and spends more time learning to make chocolate than investigating Skinny’s murder. She receives an envelope from the detective with paperwork that Skinny received prior to his death, and Penn does not open it. These are just two examples. The conclusion was very unsatisfying. The author should have included an epilogue to tie up the loose ends. What is the Cheese King doing that is angering Penn’s family? Why did Mabel change her will a month before Penn arrived in town? Who is Penn’s mother? These are just a couple of unanswered questions (very frustrating). I am rating Asking for Truffle 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). If you are looking for a good escape book, then I do not recommend Asking for Truffle. There are some scrumptious chocolate recipes at the end of the novel.
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