• Tart of Darkness

  • The Chef-to-Go Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Denise Swanson
  • Narrated by: Melissa Moran
  • Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (1,466 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2018 Denise Swanson (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Tart of Darkness

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

NOT A Clean Cozy

I am not a prude. I read modern murder mystery/serial killer books. However, sometimes I want an escape from foul language, explicit sexual content and graphic violence so I read a Cozy. The language in this book is bad and it almost crosses the line for explicit sexual content. Reader beware.

85 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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"Real" Cozy; No "Real" Smut

There are a few reviews of this book that start out, "I'm not a prude, but...", and they go on to say this book is "not a real cozy." If you have ever said, "I'm not a prude, but..." in real life, you might find that this book is a little salty for you. But to me, this is absolutely a "cozy," and it conforms to the strictures of the style. There are a few very light swear words (eg: "crappy"). They literally say "the f-word" just like that, so it's not really on the edge. Regarding the supposedly "smutty" components, that boils down to a sub-plot that refers (but does not describe or have any examples of) to a young man who has a secret BDSM secret. If that is outside your comfort zone, then yes, this book is not for you. There is a romance sub-plot in this mystery too, so if you prefer your cozy mysteries without romance, this. book is not for you either. But it is a cozy.

I will say the ending is abrupt, as other reviewers have stated.

60 people found this helpful

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Too Much Angst

If you are looking for a romance, this may be more to your liking. I was looking for a mystery, & while the mystery aspect was ok the constant romantic angst was tiresome.

The inner monologues were both frequent & cringe worthy. Maybe this is aimed at a much younger audience? At any rate, not my cup of tea.

21 people found this helpful

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Too similar to her Dime Store series

Curvy, doesn’t know she is attractive, former corporate drone leaves the corporate world to start her own business. Hunky former law man falls for her but fights his feelings. She is suspected of murder, he helps her. They even both take place in the Midwest. Love the narrator, but sometimes I would forget if I was listening to a story about Dev or Dani.

10 people found this helpful

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Ham Handed

I listened to the entire book, but it was very heavy handed, lacking any sense of grace or fluidity.

10 people found this helpful

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Pretty good

This is a cute story, nothing mind blowing but I am interested in the next title so I can continue the story. I definitely am LOLing at reviewers who describe graphic sexual content. If checking out someone's ass when they bend over is too graphic for you, then maybe move on to another author.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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BDSM Approved

There is no graphic sex described in this novel, so it was bizarre when BDSM was approved by the author as an acceptable lifestyle choice. While this endorsement lasted only a paragraph or so, it was startling to find another female writer who condones the rape and torture of other women. Why exactly would any compassionate female believe that sexual assault is a male prerogative, rather than a violent crime?

4 people found this helpful

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not the Denise Swanson I know...

Would you try another book from Denise Swanson and/or Melissa Moran?

Yes. I have read all of the Scumble River books.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The idea of owning a mansion and running a chef to go business was interesting. The ex-boyfriend coming to get his book back was unnecessary.

Which scene was your favorite?

Did not have one favorite scene...

Was Tart of Darkness worth the listening time?

Not sure...

Any additional comments?

What I objected to in this book was all the foul language and sexual innuendo. I am not a prude by any means and have read my share of salty books. When I go to a Denise Swanson book, I expect it to be clean and fun--something I could read with the family. If this is the way Ms. Swanson chooses to go in her new series, that is her prerogative, but she will be going without me.

13 people found this helpful

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good story

I really enjoyed the story but the ending kinda was a let down for.me personally after so.much detail to all the relationships in the story alot was left up in the air. but still very well written

3 people found this helpful

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It's a good start to a cozy series

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I didn't like the couple of references to tie ins to characters from the Scumble River series. It reminds me of that cheesy thing that network shows do with "cross over" episodes where characters from different shows interact. I hope that doesn't become a regular occurrence. I would like the series to stand on it's own and not be the author's inability to leave another series behind.

Would you be willing to try another book from Denise Swanson? Why or why not?

I really enjoyed the Scumble River series so I picked up this one. It has a lot of similarity in key traits and layouts of the characters. I hope the familiarity doesn't become so transparent that it feels like a re-write of that series, but it needs more books to tell.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The narrator's voice was good over all. Clear distinction in voices of characters, but oddly, the main character's voice was the least believable and a bit stilted by over annunciation of the dialogue. I'm hoping this smooths as she reads future books.

Any additional comments?

Overall a good start to a cozy series. I like how Denise Swanson really develops the characters and provide good detail in her story telling.

3 people found this helpful

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  • butler-Whittakers
  • 09-17-21

I was pleasantly surprised!

I really didn’t know what I would make of this, I thought it might be a bit mindless, (easy reading/chick lit etc), but it actually wasn’t. I found the audiobook delivery a little monotone, but certainly not bad, and the book/story itself was well thought out, moved along at a good pace, and kept you interested. It perhaps wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but I’d read or listen to another in the series. Perfect to have on in the background while getting on with other things. ☺️

4 people found this helpful

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  • Littlewigsey
  • 12-08-21

Lazy writing

Lazy writing and stereotypical characters. I gave it to chapter 6 but I just can’t waste any more of my life on such bad writing.

There’s easy reading and there is terrible writing, and this is the latter.

Avoid!

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison
  • 11-07-21

Pantomime

Albeit a free book, maybe this will save you a few hours.

The story is painful. The characters are pantomime, especially the police.

I thought the narrator was fine, although not everyone agrees.

I could not bear to finish it.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-12-21

Tedious

Gave up after a couple of hours. The story is mostly waffle and the narrators tone is at best monotone. The characterisation is really really poor, predictable and conversations between the characters is like listening to an old 90210 episode. Avoid like the plague!

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss S M Sherwood
  • 08-23-21

Boring

Laboured story.
Slow moving & very boring.
Why are they so stupid & slow!
Young women of today are more savvy & a lot quicker on the uptake than this lot.
Dear god I was grinding my teeth in frustration

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Juju Marks
  • 11-05-21

Spoilt by strange reading

The story is entertaining enough but the reader has a weird intonation that spoilt it for me. plus, she clearly was reading it for the first time and there were several spots where she emphasised the wrong word and totally changed the meaning. Irritating.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marie V.
  • 08-28-21

A bit long for what it is

I did listen to the end as wanted to know, but it should be 3-4 hours max really… I kept wanting to fast forward the ‘fluff’ A bit like skim reading. Still 100000 times better than what I’ve done though!!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • steve o.
  • 10-05-21

enjoyable

ree book, not my usual taste , a bit all American but Good characters, good story....x

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Carmel Hutchcraft
  • 06-26-22

twists

Not a fan of the narrator, but enjoyed the story. good characters throughout. Enjoyable

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DM
  • 06-13-22

Less than the sum of its parts

The actual story is good (which is what kept me going) and the narrator isn’t too bad (except for a bit too much melodrama) but it isn’t very good listening. Maybe someone who understands what make good writing could explain why……

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  • Ozziegiraffe
  • 05-06-22

A fresh new series.

As a fan of Denise Swanson’s Scumble River series, I was pleased to find connections to it in the new series.
A chef who acts as landlady and mentor to college students is an interesting new idea in food-related cozies.
The outcome of the story was quite unexpected .

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KK
  • 04-24-22

enjoyable easy listen

it isn’t a masterpiece but an easy listen and quite enjoyable, some mystery but not much suspense