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Tart of Darkness

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Right when Dani thinks shes hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passioncooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives. But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever.


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Right when Dani thinks shes hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passioncooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives. But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever.

30 review for Tart of Darkness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    Dani Sloan's life has been on a downturn lately. She left her corporate job after there were some major issues. She had to sign a non-disclosure document so she can't even discuss what happened. Then on top of that, she discovered her boyfriend was actually engaged to marry someone else. But, things take a positive turn when she suddenly inherits a house and decides to embark on a business venture that's more her style -- cooking bagged lunches for local college students and running a catering Dani Sloan's life has been on a downturn lately. She left her corporate job after there were some major issues. She had to sign a non-disclosure document so she can't even discuss what happened. Then on top of that, she discovered her boyfriend was actually engaged to marry someone else. But, things take a positive turn when she suddenly inherits a house and decides to embark on a business venture that's more her style -- cooking bagged lunches for local college students and running a catering service. She hopes Chef-To-Go will take off and be successful. In an emergency, she allows three college students to move into the house with her. She provides their room and board and in return they work a few hours a week for her. It's a win-win situation for all. One of the girls sets her up with a catering job....an upscale summer party. Regina Bourne is beautiful and known for her lavish parties. Unfortunately, the day after the event, Regina is found dead on a lounge next to the pool. Because of some problems during the party, Dani and her housemates find themselves suspects in the murder. One of the girls has an uncle who used to be a police officer. So with his help, Dani starts investigating Regina's death. Who killed the spoiled rich girl? Tart of Darkness is the first book in a new series, the Chef-To-Go Mysteries. I'm not sure I would classify this book as a "cozy'' mystery....I'm going to say it's cozy-ish. There is no gore, explicit sex or anything completely un-cozy, but there is some language and some minor sexual themes (for example, one minor character enjoys bondage and rough sex) that aren't usually in cozy mysteries. For readers who want to avoid any discussion of sexual themes or for younger readers, this might be one to avoid. As for me, I enjoyed the story. It's a nice start to a new series! I like the background theme of a college town catering business. Dani is an interesting main character, and the 3 college-age girls she rents rooms to are great supporting characters. The hunky uncle is a nice love interest. The ending of the book seemed a bit abrupt...but it definitely made me wonder when the next book will be coming out. :) The romance angle seemed a bit trope-y as did the sudden inheritance of a huge house that allowed the MC to start a new business venture.....but the book is well-written and fun to read. I didn't really mind the trope-y moments. All in all, this is an enjoyable cozy(ish) mystery! I will definitely be reading more of this series. Denise Swanson is the author of several cozy mystery series including Scumble River and the Devereaux's Dime Store Mysteries. I think I will start reading the Scumble River series while I want for the next Chef-To-Go mystery! *I voluntarily read an advanced reader's copy of this book from Sourcebooks via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

    With TV shows like Great British Bake off showing different cakes & tarts when along comes an American mystery set around cooking which there does seem to be the new mystery fashion today this another such crime book . Set in small town ,the norm of these books is 29 old Dani with her Chef-to-go career but with in 24 hours of her big break it be more like Murder-to-go & her as the number one suspect When a old friend of her mother dies she leaves her creep big house to Dani as it was a With TV shows like Great British Bake off showing different cakes & tarts when along comes an American mystery set around cooking which there does seem to be the new mystery fashion today this another such crime book . Set in small town ,the norm of these books is 29 old Dani with her Chef-to-go career but with in 24 hours of her big break it be more like Murder-to-go & her as the number one suspect When a old friend of her mother dies she leaves her creep big house to Dani as it was a packet that the 2 old ladies promised each other Now 6 months on her friends from University have had mad drunk,drugs wild party. So they are kicked out so go to their best friend Dani who has a whole house Then comes a house party. I have noticed that American's are very lazy when comes to parties we do are own catering for parties but they don't even if it's very small do its all outsiders I rember an episode of Mission Impossible in 1960s series that was just 6 people all men. Here we have a Themed party another daft idea by very rude loudmouth who expects everyone to kiss her ass well gess who the victim is. A fire at the party everything goes belly up and now Dani in the soup . It's Shame that Denise has not added few recipes at end of the story it's only thing missing lot of other books of this type of food murders do.It really would made it a four * instead of a three. The best thing if all is that there is huge long list of other books by this author in other series too. Which now be looking out for too. You learn something every day the victim suffers from been Bulimic I never heard of it had to Google it - medical problem wear Pearson get stuffed (elephantites ) is what I call it huge of weight fat females that over 25+.I once new fat 'Cowboy ' plumber who was 29 stone he could eat four huge tin Fry Benton's Steak pies as a light snack between meals he even went to hospital they got his weight down to 15st but with in weeks of coming home he was back to 32 perfect example of Sloth or Bulimic. Disgusting greed

  3. 5 out of 5

    LORI (Dollycas) CASWELL

    Dollycass Thoughts This series is off to an amazing start! Danielle (Dani) Sloan quit her job, dropped her Dr. McCreepy and is cooking up a storm, watching Hells Kitchen and Cupcake Wars, as she sends out her resumé. She is usually joined by Ivy Drake, an 18-year old college junior that lives across the hall. Not a typical friendship, more of a big sister/little sister thing, but it works for them. One day she receives a letter telling her she has inherited a mansion, an old Victorian that was Dollycas’s Thoughts This series is off to an amazing start! Danielle (Dani) Sloan quit her job, dropped her “Dr. McCreepy” and is cooking up a storm, watching Hell’s Kitchen and Cupcake Wars, as she sends out her resumé. She is usually joined by Ivy Drake, an 18-year old college junior that lives across the hall. Not a typical friendship, more of a big sister/little sister thing, but it works for them. One day she receives a letter telling her she has inherited a mansion, an old Victorian that was being remodeled into a B&B. After the shock wears off she realizes this inheritance could make her dreams come true. So while the lawyer gets the paperwork done she makes plans for her new business, Chef-to-Go. She will be doing catering, providing meals on the go for the college students and hiring herself out as a personal chef. She gets help with the business from her new tenants, Ivy and her friends that used to live across the hall. They were evicted for some major infractions of the landlord’s rules. Their parents have agreed to pay for them to live with Dani as long as Dani watches over them and Ivy’s Uncle Spencer checks on them weekly. Spencer, the head of college security is glad to help the girls any way he can, especially after he meets Dani. Things are going great until one of Ivy’s college friends is murdered, shortly after Dani caters a party for her. The investigating detective decides quickly that Dani is the killer. She could lose everything. She needs to clear her name and fast or the only place she will cooking will be the state penitentiary. The first book in a series is a huge undertaking because you have to introduce the characters, give them each a back story, connect them together and then wrap them in a mystery that keeps readers flipping those pages while leaving them wanting for more. Ms. Swanson more than met this challenge. I liked Dani immediately. She left her job for a very good reason and I was excited that she could follow her passion. Her business plan makes sense and her new living arrangement is unique and fun. Ivy being so young is a bit naive and needs to have someone looking out for her. Her friends Tippi and Starr do what they can, but she needs Dani and Spencer in her life too. Tippi and Starr are typical college students and Dani likes having them live with her, but one tends to shirk her responsibilities to Danni quite a bit. Spencer is a former FBI agent who spent most of his career undercover. Now retired he enjoys the slower pace of running the security division for the college. These core characters are engaging and interesting. The author has left plenty of room to grow as the series continues. There are some crazy characters too. Detective Mikeloff is off the rails and the victim and her family have their issues too. The plot and subplots of this story are very well developed. The mystery itself had plenty of suspects with motive. The victim had done some really terrible things. Dani is a great investigator, people opened up to her so easily. She tries to help everyone she talks to, even when she was facing the murderer. This blends in with the romantic tension Dani and Spencer have every time they are in the vicinity with each other and Dani having to deal with a request from her ex. I do enjoy the college campus setting. There are tons of possibilities for future stories. I did have a couple of minor concerns. The author mentions her Scumble River series and ties a couple of characters to characters in that series. This may be likable for fans of that series but may be off-putting to those who have not yet read that series. Also, while the Epilogue wraps up this story, Dani comes off just a little bit preachy at the end. I am excited to see where Ms. Swanson takes this series. I am invested in the characters and can’t wait for the next story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Skyler Autumn

    4 Stars Review to come.... but this review is based on how this novel measures up with other cozy mysteries. I'm aware its no Fredrick Backman but as a cozy mystery it does it's job well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elle's Book Blog

    Release Date: April 3, 2018 Genre: Cozy Mystery Tart of Darkness is the first book in an all new cozy mystery series by Denise Swanson. This is a culinary cozy where the heroine has opened a catering business that prepares meals for couples, parties, and lunch options for those who don't like to cook. It's a charming story with a fantastic set of characters, an interesting and enjoyable plot, and a "who-dun-it" that I couldn't figure out until it was revealed. Cozy mystery fans are going to Release Date: April 3, 2018 Genre: Cozy Mystery Tart of Darkness is the first book in an all new cozy mystery series by Denise Swanson. This is a culinary cozy where the heroine has opened a catering business that prepares meals for couples, parties, and lunch options for those who don't like to cook. It's a charming story with a fantastic set of characters, an interesting and enjoyable plot, and a "who-dun-it" that I couldn't figure out until it was revealed. Cozy mystery fans are going to really enjoy this novel especially if you have enjoyed the authors previous books and series. I am fairly new to her work and have read a few books but I know that I am going to be HOOKED on this series. I love culinary mysteries with amateur sleuths who love to cook so it's right up my alley. Plus, the heroine is someone I could see myself befriending so it'd an added bonus. In this book, we meet Dani. After catering to a spoiled rich girls party she finds herself in the cross hairs of a murder investigation. Who would have killed the sorority sister who had a lot going for her future? I guess it COULD have been anyone because she wasn't the nicest person and has a lot of bad blood with many. This is why Dani has to team up with former police officer (the sexy Spencer) and a few of her college housemates to find the killer before one of them is falsely arrested! Go on a hunt with Dani and her crew in this delectable and endearing new cozy. I very much recommend it to the cozy sleuths out there and anyone else looking for a fun and lighthearted read. Purchase a Copy ➜ Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2oDEyUO ➜ Amazon Print: http://amzn.to/2oLTgZ7 ➜ Listen with Audible: http://amzn.to/2F969n3

  6. 5 out of 5

    Linda 📚

    I enjoyed this first story in the Chef-to-Go mysteries! The main characters are interesting. There is a good relationship between the protagonist and her college age renters. All the cooking made my tummy growl, and the story premise is a great idea. I never caught on to who the killer was until the author reveal!

  7. 4 out of 5

    NicoleG

    A great first in series! Denise Swanson is a new to me cozy author and after reading this book I am hoping to read more of her cozies. A fun premise, interesting setting, and engaging characters! A great mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. I also enjoyed the food descriptions which is always a plus when reading a cozy mystery!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Brown

    Tart Of Darkness Chef-To-Go Mystery, Book #1 Denise Swanson 5 Stars Synopsis: Right when Dani thinks shes hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passioncooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support Tart Of Darkness Chef-To-Go Mystery, Book #1 Denise Swanson 5 Stars Synopsis: Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives. But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever. (Goodreads) Review: The characters are well rounded and well developed. I really liked the relationship between Dani and Ivy. I liked the way that Ivy was a typical college student and was a little self absorbed. But she really likes Dani and is very willing to help Dani whenever she can. Dani is a good role model for Ivy and her friends and I enjoyed that. I also liked that there were a couple of generations in this book but they worked well together. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and those descriptions pulled me right into the story. The descriptions of the dishes that Dani was preparing throughout the book made me hungry. That is a good thing when reading a culinary cozy! The mystery was well plotted and moved along at a nice pace. There were enough suspects to consider and clues to sift through and I did not have any idea who the killer was. I found the fact that Dani did not put herself in any real danger while solving the mystery very refreshing. I am not really sure that this book is a cozy in the strictest way. There is a little bit of harsher language and there was some mention of sexual tendencies. I did not find anything offensive in the least but I felt I should mention those things in my review. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted mystery. There was so much that I liked about this book and i am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, when it is released. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the first book in the Chef-to-go Mystery series. Dani inherits a mansion with a commercial kitchen and sets up a new business Chef to Go providing ready made meals for students and catering and chef services. After catering a party for a spoilt student during which there is an altercation, the student is found murdered and Dani becomes prime suspect. I loved everything about this book. I liked the concept of the Chef to Go business and I liked the Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the first book in the Chef-to-go Mystery series. Dani inherits a mansion with a commercial kitchen and sets up a new business Chef to Go providing ready made meals for students and catering and chef services. After catering a party for a spoilt student during which there is an altercation, the student is found murdered and Dani becomes prime suspect. I loved everything about this book. I liked the concept of the Chef to Go business and I liked the characters, especially Dani and Spencer who seem destined to come together. It was great to have familiar characters from the Scumble River series make an appearance. A quick read as it was difficult to put down and I can't wait for the next book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Morin

    Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is a first in a new series. The story is interesting and I like Dan I, the main character. It seems like Dani has a self esteem problem and I hope to see that go away in the future. When Dani inherits an old house, her future becomes more bright, leading her to follow a path that leads to murder. Deciding to go into the catering business is no small expense. When Dani has the opportunity to collect rent in exchange for sharing her home with college students, it Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is a first in a new series. The story is interesting and I like Dan I, the main character. It seems like Dani has a self esteem problem and I hope to see that go away in the future. When Dani inherits an old house, her future becomes more bright, leading her to follow a path that leads to murder. Deciding to go into the catering business is no small expense. When Dani has the opportunity to collect rent in exchange for sharing her home with college students, it seems like a win win situation. Unfortunately, her first job takes a nasty turn of events and Dani finds herself in the middle I'd a murder investigation. Dani and Ivy, one of her college housemates, are both considered suspects. Ivy calls her uncle to help, and when he meets Dani, the sparks fly. The story is good and the series has potential. I think the author is teetering on the thin line between cozy mystery and romance. I have no problem with romance, but some of the references in this book were a bit much. I don't particularly care to know about the shape of someone's butt while reading a cozy mystery. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ☼♎ Carmen the Bootyshaker Temptress ☼♎

    Rated 3.5 stars This was just ok for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    Tart of Darkness is a terrific start to a new cozy mystery series. Danis life has turned upside down. Betrayed by a boyfriend and disappointed and miserable in her career, she is ready to start the next chapter of her life with a clean slate, so when she has inherits a large home in a hip college town, she jumps at the chance to try out her dream of making a living off her culinary skills and delectable recipes while renting out rooms to college students to help make ends meet. Soon, she and one Tart of Darkness is a terrific start to a new cozy mystery series. Dani’s life has turned upside down. Betrayed by a boyfriend and disappointed and miserable in her career, she is ready to start the next chapter of her life with a clean slate, so when she has inherits a large home in a hip college town, she jumps at the chance to try out her dream of making a living off her culinary skills and delectable recipes while renting out rooms to college students to help make ends meet. Soon, she and one of her borders becomes a suspect in a sorority homicide. There are cozy elements, mystery, romance and a more youthful vibe than most cozies. It is well written with interesting characters. I look forward to the next book in the Chef-to-Go Mystery series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    **I voluntarily read this ARC** A fun start to a new series. The setting is really interesting. I would love to see the house that Dani inherited. It sounds beautiful. The language is a little strong at times for a cozy, but not overly obscene or graphic. I really enjoyed the mystery, but I felt it fizzled at the end rather than going out with a bang.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    My first time reading Denise Swanson and I just loved it! This is the first book in a new series. A fun loving cozy mystery that is filled with surprises. Looking forward to the next book in the series!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten #armenianappreciationday #findarainbowday #weedouthate #ponyexpressday

    An excellent start to a new series. The characters were fun and the romance angle has a lot of chemistry. (If this were a romance, there would've been a lot more action in that direction.) The mystery was interesting. The pacing was also very good. I read this book in nearly one sitting. (I had to take a break for dinner.) Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    I picked up this book 50% because of a desire to branch out beyond my normal genres of nonfiction, literary fiction, and memoir, and 50% because the title pun game was so strong. I'd be curious about the "cozy mystery" phenomenon since I first read an article about it a few years ago, and there's nothing that I love more than a good Agatha Christie puzzle or gratuitous descriptions of food. What I found instead was a bizarre narrational conservatism (weird asides about PC culture, and, I picked up this book 50% because of a desire to branch out beyond my normal genres of nonfiction, literary fiction, and memoir, and 50% because the title pun game was so strong. I'd be curious about the "cozy mystery" phenomenon since I first read an article about it a few years ago, and there's nothing that I love more than a good Agatha Christie puzzle or gratuitous descriptions of food. What I found instead was a bizarre narrational conservatism (weird asides about PC culture, and, especially unappealing, a random passage blaming sexual assault on sexy clothing and alcohol), characters that were borderline caricatures, and way more descriptions of the female protagonist's butt from the point of view of her love interest than mouthwatering descriptions of desserts. If I'm being generous, I'll blame my dislike mostly on the disconnect between what the book is and what I expected it to be, and on the fact that I am clearly not its target audience. The appeal of cozy mysteries seems to lie largely in their escapism, and this just wasn't a story I wanted to escape into.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Reviews

    Denise Swansons Tart of Darkness is an intriguing well-paced mystery with a great protagonist. It is a promising start to a new series. However, the book is a little disjointed and there are too many characters and sideplots. Our protagonist is Dani Sloan who has recently quit her job in HR. She inherits a huge old house and starts Chef-to-Go, working as a private chef and caterer while also selling homemade meals to college students. Dani also rents out rooms in her new house to students and Denise Swanson’s Tart of Darkness is an intriguing well-paced mystery with a great protagonist. It is a promising start to a new series. However, the book is a little disjointed and there are too many characters and sideplots. Our protagonist is Dani Sloan who has recently quit her job in HR. She inherits a huge old house and starts Chef-to-Go, working as a private chef and caterer while also selling homemade meals to college students. Dani also rents out rooms in her new house to students and acts as their big sister. Things get messy when Regina, a nasty and wealthy college girl, is murdered after her party that Dani catered. An unscrupulous detective soon makes Dani his prime suspect. With the help of her friend’s handsome uncle, Spencer Drake, Dani must solve the murder before she goes out of business. The book switches perspective between Dani and Spencer. While their voices are distinct, I didn’t like the different perspectives and I think the book would have flowed better if Dani was the only point-of-view. Additionally, I’m not completely sold on the brusque and somewhat stereotypical ex-cop Spencer and I don’t buy the instant attraction between him and Dani. There is a lot going on in this book. For the most part, Swanson makes it work and keeps you entertained and intrigued with a nicely-crafted mystery. At first, I was doubtful about how Dani’s different roles would work but everything fits together. However, I miss the ‘clean’ charm of a traditional cozy as this book is more modern and a little bit darker than expected. Dani is a great and well-developed character with an interesting backstory. She’s determined, hardworking and a genuinely good person. Many of the minor characters are also decently crafted. I like the abundance of interesting suspects who all have plausible motives. However, some characters and sideplots could have been trimmed or been more developed to better serve their purpose. Although I suspect that these mysteries will be resolved later, the sideplots with Dani’s slimy ex-boyfriend, Kipp, and Detective Mikeloff who has a vendetta against her could have been handled much better. Kipp’s drama about a missing book seems pointless and Mikeloff appears too irregularly to be a real threat. Tart of Darkness is a great mystery with some nice twists. I couldn’t figure out the murderer’s identity until the reveal and I love how well everything came together. Although I wish some of the characters and sideplots were better handled, I enjoyed this book and I look forward to more in this series. Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for this book in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

    In this new series by Swanson we meet Dani a young woman whose life has recently taken some eye-opening turns. Her job has turned into a nightmare and don't get her started on her cheating ex-boyfriend. She lives in a building where her neighbors are young college girls, who she enjoys cooking for and trying out new recipes on. When an unexpected inheritance comes her way Dani starts to reevaluate her life and decides to follow her true passion of cooking and Chef-to-Go is born. When her In this new series by Swanson we meet Dani a young woman whose life has recently taken some eye-opening turns. Her job has turned into a nightmare and don't get her started on her cheating ex-boyfriend. She lives in a building where her neighbors are young college girls, who she enjoys cooking for and trying out new recipes on. When an unexpected inheritance comes her way Dani starts to reevaluate her life and decides to follow her true passion of cooking and Chef-to-Go is born. When her ex-neighbors land in some hot water and are kicked out of her old building Dani takes them in, not only could she use some help with her new business but she misses having them around all the time. College student Ivy is always talking about her Uncle Spencer, who is a retired police officer, who agreed to help keep an eye on the girls after they were evicted from their apartment. Things are really looking good for Dani until a girl is found dead the morning after a party that she hosted, one that Dani catered for. You see Dani had an argument with the young woman and although she doesn't feel it was anything the detective on the case sees things differently. Not only is he looking at Dani as a suspect but also Ivy and it doesn't seem like he will be marking them off as suspects anytime soon. When Ivy's uncle steps in to help, Dani is surprised to find out that not only is Spencer not old, he's quite good looking. You see they each thought the other was old. Follow along as Dani and Spencer investigate to figure out who the killer is before Dani or Ivy lands in jail. In the midst of all of this Dani's ex-boyfriend keeps popping up. I loved the story line and felt an instant connection with the main character Dani and was invested in what happened throughout the read. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in one sitting. I can't wait to see what comes next for these well written characters and the picturesque college town they live in.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Really enjoyable first entry in the series. I really liked the characters, Dani and Spence were so adorable and worked well together. The mystery was good and the book flowed well and was easy to read. I liked the other characters and loved the cross over with some of the Scumble River series characters (you don't need to have read the other series to read this book, just something fun for fans). The only disappointing part was no recipes in the back. Looking forward to reading more books in Really enjoyable first entry in the series. I really liked the characters, Dani and Spence were so adorable and worked well together. The mystery was good and the book flowed well and was easy to read. I liked the other characters and loved the cross over with some of the Scumble River series characters (you don't need to have read the other series to read this book, just something fun for fans). The only disappointing part was no recipes in the back. Looking forward to reading more books in this series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is a new series about Dani who leaves her corporate job and inherited an old mansion and stats a catering company. She has to take 3 college students as borders to help make ends meet. A popular student is killed shortly after Dani caters a party at her house. A bad cop is trying hard to prove that Dani did. She also has the start of a romance.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Loved this book! This was my first read by Denise Swanson and now I know why she has so many fans! I loved the different age groups all working and living together, I loved the crazy cast of characters, and I loved all the sub-plots. Hope this series continues for a long time!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    I enjoyed this first book of a new cozy series, especially because of the setting (a mansion near a university campus) and because the narration shifted back and forth between the sleuth's point of view and that of her ex-cop love interest. There were some uncomfortable sexual references regarding one particular character that I thought were unfortunate, as I read cozies specifically to avoid those things, but I was able to push past those to enjoy the story. Though I never got very far in this I enjoyed this first book of a new cozy series, especially because of the setting (a mansion near a university campus) and because the narration shifted back and forth between the sleuth's point of view and that of her ex-cop love interest. There were some uncomfortable sexual references regarding one particular character that I thought were unfortunate, as I read cozies specifically to avoid those things, but I was able to push past those to enjoy the story. Though I never got very far in this author's Scumble River series, I did like that this book had some overlap with it, and it made me want to get to the Scumble River books I bought a few years ago and haven't gotten to yet. I was also just approved for the second book of this series on NetGalley, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Dani next.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the 1st book in Chef-To-Go Mystery series, and I loved it. Dani leaves her high paying corporate job at the same time she inherits a mansion with a commercial kitchen. Dani starts Chef-to-go, where she makes meals to go for students, and catering for special dinners. Dani rents rooms to three college students who also help her out as part of the rent. When one of Dani's clients is found dead the mystery starts. This book has more twists and turns, that keeps Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the 1st book in Chef-To-Go Mystery series, and I loved it. Dani leaves her high paying corporate job at the same time she inherits a mansion with a commercial kitchen. Dani starts Chef-to-go, where she makes meals to go for students, and catering for special dinners. Dani rents rooms to three college students who also help her out as part of the rent. When one of Dani's clients is found dead the mystery starts. This book has more twists and turns, that keeps you turning page after page. I can't wait for the next book in the series. I strongly recommended this book and series for any cozy mystery lovers like me. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the first book in Chef-to-Go Mysteries. Danielle Dani Sloan has quit her job at Homestead Insurance and given her cheating boyfriend the heave ho. While deciding what to do next, she been cooking for the college girls down the hall and vegging out on the couch watching cooking shows. Then a letter arrives stating she inherited a nearby Victorian mansion that has been remodeled for a bed and breakfast with a fabulous kitchen. This is the perfect opportunity Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the first book in Chef-to-Go Mysteries. Danielle “Dani” Sloan has quit her job at Homestead Insurance and given her cheating boyfriend the heave ho. While deciding what to do next, she been cooking for the college girls down the hall and vegging out on the couch watching cooking shows. Then a letter arrives stating she inherited a nearby Victorian mansion that has been remodeled for a bed and breakfast with a fabulous kitchen. This is the perfect opportunity for Dani to pursue her passion—cooking. She opens Chef-to-Go which provides catering for events, personal chef services and ready-to-go lunches for college students. Dani also ends up with three college student tenants (the ladies she cooked for in her old building). Dani is hired to cater spoiled rich girl Regina Bourne’s Summer Palooza. The event goes off without a hitch until a drunk guest sets fire to the dessert table and Regina has a hissy fit. Dani is surprised when Detective Mikeloff arrives at her home stating Regina was found dead by her pool surrounded by Dani’s desserts. The detective has it out for Dani. Dani needs to clear her name before she ends up as chef for the local penitentiary. I like the premise of Tart of Darkness. It is set in a college town (provides a variety of victims) where Dani inherited a large Victorian home with a gourmet kitchen. I thought it was a clever idea to provide ready-to-go lunches for college students. Dani is a character who keeps trying to please her father and fails (has an inferiority complex). Additional characters are the three female college students living with Dani (Tippi, Starr and Ivy) along with Spencer Drake (Ivy’s uncle and love interest for Dani). The attraction between Dani and Spencer is “instant” (of course). Readers gets detailed descriptions of Spencer’s physique and what Spencer thinks about Dani’s attributes (repeated mentions of her heart shaped derriere). I wish the author had dialed back on the attraction (lust) between Dani and Spencer. The point of view switches between Dani and Spencer. I found it disjointed and it lacked an ease (clunky). The novel would have flowed better if it had been written from Dani’s POV or in the third person (my preference). Unlike most cozy mysteries, Tart of Darkness contains foul language. There is a cliché nasty detective and repetitiveness (especially of the phrase “ass hat”). The authors background in psychology is evident in Tart of Darkness with how Dani listens and dispenses advice (confirming response technique). There is a lot going on in Tart of Darkness (seems to be a common malady in cozy mysteries that I have read recently). I did not feel that the ex-boyfriend showing up looking for a book he gave to Dani was needed. The characters from Denise Swanson’s A Scumble River Mystery series and Welcome Back to Scumble River are mentioned (Wally, Skye) and Frannie Ryan is in the story (she wants to write about the murder—get her big break). The mystery was clever with a unique murder method. There are good clues that will aid readers in solving the crime. I give Tart of Darkness 3 out of 5 stars. Tart of Darkness will appeal to fans of Denise Swanson and cozy mysteries.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the first book in Chef-To-Go mystery series and it is off the good start. Dani has left her HR job and is looking for a new job. All of the sudden she inherits a B&B manor which she rents to three collage friends, Ivy, Tippi and Star. She decides to start catering business and one of the first jobs is to cater a party for a spoiled rich girl . Even though the food is fabulous an accident happens and they part on bad terms. Next day the girl is found dead. Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson is the first book in Chef-To-Go mystery series and it is off the good start. Dani has left her HR job and is looking for a new job. All of the sudden she inherits a B&B manor which she rents to three collage friends, Ivy, Tippi and Star. She decides to start catering business and one of the first jobs is to cater a party for a spoiled rich girl . Even though the food is fabulous an accident happens and they part on bad terms. Next day the girl is found dead. To make matters worse an abominable detective clearly intent on accusing Ivy and Dani of being the murderers. Together with the help from Ivy's uncle Spence, a former policeman, the girls try to figure out what happened before they end up in jail. Great set of characters with an interesting plot. Lively dialogue, fast paced with a dash of romance, this is a great book for all whodunnit aficionados.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kayt18

    This is the first in a new series by author Denise Swanson. "Tart of Darkness" if a winner. It has some of our familiar characters from her Scumble series and is just wonderful. I could not put it down. My normal snacking was even cut short. I was so involved in this book that I did not even notice I hadn't had my snacks. Now that is saying something for me, lol. Fast paced, well developed story, backgrounds and characters. I cannot wait for the next installment to come out. I think this may This is the first in a new series by author Denise Swanson. "Tart of Darkness" if a winner. It has some of our familiar characters from her Scumble series and is just wonderful. I could not put it down. My normal snacking was even cut short. I was so involved in this book that I did not even notice I hadn't had my snacks. Now that is saying something for me, lol. Fast paced, well developed story, backgrounds and characters. I cannot wait for the next installment to come out. I think this may even have jumped to my favorite series in her list of fabulous ones she writes!! Get it while it is hot!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Piepie

    Move over, Hannah Swensen, there's a new baker/amateur detective in town! This was a delight to read! I LOVE Dani and how she's intelligent and professional and resourceful. My heart breaks for her because of her virtually-nonexistent relationship with her dad. I liked how this book sets the stage for more to come in this saga ... her business, her relationship with her tenants/employees, and her friendship with Spencer, who I absolutely adore. This was a cozy mystery, but it didn't have a lot of Move over, Hannah Swensen, there's a new baker/amateur detective in town! This was a delight to read! I LOVE Dani and how she's intelligent and professional and resourceful. My heart breaks for her because of her virtually-nonexistent relationship with her dad. I liked how this book sets the stage for more to come in this saga ... her business, her relationship with her tenants/employees, and her friendship with Spencer, who I absolutely adore. This was a cozy mystery, but it didn't have a lot of "fluff," and I appreciated how there was some substance to this story. It proved to be a quick read for me, and I am planning on continuing to read this series.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    It's bad enough that rich, entitled sorority girl Regina is killed after she lashes out at Dani, who just catered her big summer party. It's worse when the investigating cop has a grudge against her because of something she did at her last job, and she can't defend herself because of a non-disclosure agreement she was forced to sign. She can't even explain herself to Spencer, the handsome hunk who's head of campus security and the uncle of one of the three college-girl boarders in the house Dani It's bad enough that rich, entitled sorority girl Regina is killed after she lashes out at Dani, who just catered her big summer party. It's worse when the investigating cop has a grudge against her because of something she did at her last job, and she can't defend herself because of a non-disclosure agreement she was forced to sign. She can't even explain herself to Spencer, the handsome hunk who's head of campus security and the uncle of one of the three college-girl boarders in the house Dani has unexpectedly inherited. Past bad experiences have made both Dani and Spencer gun-shy when it comes to romance, despite their attraction to one another. Oddly, considering the emphasis on Dani's cooking, there are no recipes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    JoAn

    Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson was an excellent start to what I hope will be a long running new series. Ms. Swanson's introduction of these new characters was done very well. I enjoyed meeting all of them and look forward to getting to know them better as the series progresses. The plot was fast paced with twists, turns and enough suspects to keep me guessing until the reveal. I'm already looking forward to the next one in this series.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    Tart of Darkness is a nice book on what promises to be a wonderful new cozy mystery series. There is also a lovely bit of romance that will add to this seriess appeal. I look forward to the next book in the series. Tart of Darkness is a nice book on what promises to be a wonderful new cozy mystery series. There is also a lovely bit of romance that will add to this series’s appeal. I look forward to the next book in the series.

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