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Chocolate shop owner Charity Penn is at it again-cooking up chocolate treats while trying to keep everyone in the quirky seaside town of Camellia Beach safe.

A threatening note, a dead musician, and decades of secrets put the town’s first beach music festival and its band members in grave danger.

With help from her meddling half-sister and a new flavor of chocolate sweets to ignite the senses, Penn follows the shifting tide of evidence to uncover a forty-year-old secret.

Author Dorothy St. James spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing the second installment of the Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries, PLAYING WITH BONBON FIRE:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers feel like they’ve experienced the coastal islands in South Carolina. The quirky character and small-town feeling of these islands is quickly being lost as they are being converted into tourist towns.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

I hope it challenges the cozy genre by using a main character who is deeply flawed. Instead of a near-perfect amateur sleuth, Charity Penn makes some serious mistakes and has life lessons to learn and experiences real growth from book to book.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

There are several spicy chocolate recipes at the end of the book that readers will be anxious to try after reading the novel.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

Mystery authors Elizabeth Peters, Lillian Jackson Braun, and Kate Collins have all inspired me to write mysteries and to keep striving to make something close to their read-again-and-again masterpieces.


Dorothy St. James, known for the White House Gardener Mystery series, 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 and quirky Southern charm, with a dash of danger.

To learn more about Dorothy, please visit her website.