Series: A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery #1
Format Read: Kindle galley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 27, 2015
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Blurb from goodreads:
Hayden Mundy Moore is an expert on everything chocolate, helping clients develop new products and revamp recipes until they're irresistible. But sometimes, a dash of murder finds its way into the mix. . .
Hayden Mundy Moore has bushwhacked through African jungles and haggled in exotic markets to find the finest cacao beans and the most flavorful blends. It's thrilling work but rarely dangerous--until a colleague turns up dead at the exclusive chocolate-themed Lemaître resort spa in San Francisco.
Adrienne Dowling's heart attack is blamed on an accidental overdose of the secret ingredient used in Lemaître Chocolates' new line. Hayden can't believe that conscientious Adrienne would make that mistake. And between chocolate body scrubs, cocoa mud baths, and a non-stop frenzy of chocolate-based treats, Hayden starts to suspect that she, not Adrienne, was the intended target. Finding a killer among the rival chocolatiers and potential suspects won't just be satisfying--it might save her life.
Chocolate! How could I resist a book about chocolate, and a cozy mystery at that? I don't walk away from chocolate (though I probably should once in a while. :D) Anyway, I had to read it. If you're a chocolate lover, you'll learn more about chocolate and there are recipes! I intend to try out the chocolate butter, nom, and the chocolate espresso pedicure scrub. Some of the food descriptions in the story had me drooling; I suggest you eat before reading this book!
But I digress. Hayden is a chocolate gourmand and expert who makes her living troubleshooting for companies that sell chocolate, both big and little. She's attending a retreat hosted by the company that she's currently working for. She invites her friend Danny, a former con who now has his own security company, to attend the retreat with her.
Things happen quickly once Hayden arrives at the retreat - she has an encounter with her employer, an encounter with a chef she's become friends with, and before long she receives both a business and sexual proposition from her employer's competition, and then her friend the chef dies suddenly. Was it accidental, a suicide, or a murder? That's just the beginning of the questions - who is the saboteur? Is there even a saboteur? Who was sleeping with whom? Who is smarmier, the current CEO of Lemaître, or the CEO of his competitor, Melt? Is the former CEO going senile? Is his wife having an affair? Does anyone at this retreat ever eat healthy food that's chocolate free? Will Hayden ever get her accountant/business manager Travis to tell her what he's wearing? Hayden is attracted to his deep, sexy voice (I am a sucker for those too, sigh) and determined to break through his seemingly rigid, narrow behavior. We never actually meet Travis, his scenes are all on the telephone. He is the trustee of an estate left to Hayden by her now deceased uncle.
For reasons that London never makes clear, Hayden inherits and keeps the money only if she keeps traveling; three months in one location appears to be her allowed max. That part was odd and never made sense. London established that Hayden enjoys traveling and it's a large part of her work. Then later, after that's been well established, suddenly Hayden has a yearning to settle down.We never get an explanation for the switch or for why her uncle's will had such a strange stipulation. I couldn't help but wonder if such a stipulation would be legal in the real world or would a court throw it out. It helps to ensure that Hayden will travel and books in the series will take place in different locations but for me the believability factor was low. London also had Hayden think and state ad nausem that this is the first, last, and only murder she's ever, ever, EVER going to investigate. Well of course, we know that's not true because the book is clearly marked as the first in a series. Now the author will have to work overtime to make Hayden's involvement in the next book believable. I think she was trying for foreshadowing but instead we were hit over the head repeatedly with Hayden's insistence. Also, her friend Danny the security expert? A really rotten body guard. He should fire himself. He was conveniently MIA whenever Hayden was being injured or threatened.
So, those problems aside, I did enjoy the story. I was completely able to relate to Hayden's procrastination tendencies and her dislike of being bossed around. I also enjoyed her snarky humor. She was a mix of smart, sassy, spunky, and oh my gosh can she really be so dimwitted? She sees evil intentions everywhere but when the killer is staring her in the face, literally staring her in the face and admitting guilt, it goes right over head for far too long. I did guess who the killer was but not the motivation. The company, Lemaître, is practically overflowing with backstabbing, plots and plans, theft, and sabotage. Apparently, working for a chocolate company is not as musical or whimsical as, say, Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. London gives us many clues and red herrings and there are several viable candidates for the killer.
London writes an engaging story, one that kept me scrolling the pages to see what would happen next. Hayden, Danny, and Travis as well as Nina the PR person, Isabel the former CEO's trophy wife, etc. were quirky, interesting, and never boring. The mystery kept me guessing, the food scenes sounded delicious, and I am curious to see what happens next and see both Hayden and Danny again, as well as encounter Travis again. If this book comes out in audio, I hope the narrator can pull off Travis's deep, sexy voice, or the audio version will be disappointing. Anyway, if you like quirky characters and foodie cozies, pick up "Criminal Confections". But remember to eat first!
Colette London is the pseudonym of a best-selling novelist whose published more than three dozen books worldwide. Visit her on the web at www.colettelondon.com, friend her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/colette.london.books, or follow her on Twitter @Colette__London