Guest Denise Swanson

Edith/Maddie here, happy to welcome the talented and prolific Denise Swanson to the blog! She’s celebrating a new book and a big number.

Here’s the blurb for Winner Cake All:

Once again, it looks like Dani Sloan will get a slice of the action… In the small town of Normalton, IL, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for small business owner Dani Sloan to cater big-ticket events. But that’s about to change—a client named Yvette Joubert is marrying Franklin Whittaker, the richest guy around, and they want Dani to cater their engagement party! The swanky event is the perfect opportunity to put Dani on the map for wealthier clients.

But when a storm hits the party after guests arrive, it becomes clear that more than the dinner is ruined: Yvette is found dead beneath the marquee. Is her death a tragic accident, or a perfectly orchestrated murder? Then the case gets even juicier—it turns out that Yvette’s ex-husband is Spencer Drake, Dani’s almost-boyfriend, and the police start circling. Now Dani must follow an unending list of clues to save her business, her better half, and catch a criminal. Let’s just hope they get their just desserts!

From One to Thirty-Three in the Blink of an Eye

Getting my first book traditionally published was a long and arduous journey. It took a long time and two hundred and seventy rejection slips to find an agent. And even then, it took that agent eighteen months to find a publisher. Twenty years ago, cozy mysteries were nowhere near as popular as they are now. And since I had my own ideas on setting, sleuth’s appearance, and sleuth’s occupation, it was lot harder than if I’d have put Scumble River in Alabama, made my sleuth Skye a size six, and had her own a bookstore or work in law enforcement.

Few editors wanted to take the gamble on a book that didn’t fit the mold and am I ever glad the editor at NAL/Signet/Penguin was willing to give me a chance! With the first book, Murder of a Small-Town Honey, going into multiple printings, and the twenty-third book, Body Over Troubled Waters, due out in April, I think it’s safe to say there was more interest in a curvy, Midwest, school psychologist than a lot of folks ever realized.

Thrilled that my first series was successful, I tried my hand at a second, Devereaux’s Dime Store. Wanting to stretch my creative muscles even more, I also wrote a few contemporary romances and a paranormal cozy, A Call to Charms.

I’ve always used my real-life experiences in my books so when I got interested in cooking, I proposed a third cozy series—Chef-to-Go. This series features a caterer/personal chef named Dani Sloan who lives in the fictional college town of Normalton, Illinois (inspired by Bloomington-Normal, home of three universities).

In the first two books, Dani is getting settled in her new career and new house, but by the third one, Winner Cake All, which debuts September 29th, she’s looking to expand her business into the world of luxury catering. The setting for the murder is based on an outdoor wedding reception that I attended where bad weather blew in and almost destroyed the tent that we were all under.

Stagnation is always a risk, with long running series, but by writing additional series, I have been able to allow my characters to change and grow. This means that my sleuths crash cars, inherit and lose houses, and occasionally change boyfriends. Their goals, expectations, and how they deal with family and friends also evolve.

When I married off Skye in my Scumble River series folks started asking if I planned on ending those books. I’m sure I’ll get similar questions about Deveraux now that she’s chosen her man and about Dani because of the way her latest book concludes. But because I don’t think a woman’s journey ends when she finds the man of her dreams, the answer is no.

Having a settled relationship pushes my sleuths into even more exciting adventures and changes the dynamic between them and their family and friends. So, to anyone who is concerned that I’ll end a series just because the sleuth looks as if they’ve gotten their happily ever after, all I can say is stay tuned for book number thirty-four!

Readers: Do you prefer a happily married (or in a settled relationship) sleuth to a one who is unattached? I’ll give away winner’s choice: either a signed copy of Murder of a Small-Town Honey or Winner Cake All (US only).

New York Times Bestselling author Denise Swanson writes the Scumble River, Devereaux’s Dime Store, Forever Charmed, and Chef-to-Go mysteries, as well as the Change of Heart and Delicious Love contemporary romances. She lives in rural Illinois with her husband and a pack of squirrels, blue jays, and the occasional deer.

For more information, please visit at Or come hangout with her at

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35 Thoughts

  1. Since they will be going around investigating cases, I like seeing them in a stable and supportive relationship. This way they can bounce the things they have discovered with the person, especially if they don’t have the sidekick or BFF. And it’s always nice to see them at home just having a relaxing day and conversation without discussing the murder.

    1. I think one of the joys of reading cozies versus other mysteries are those little snippets of regular life between the sleuth and her friends/family/love interest.

  2. I am almost 72 and have been widowed more than 13 years, so it depends on my mood at the time whether I feel like having the mystery jarred by hormones or the rapport of a settled couple working together.

    1. Mood is very important when you read. I can pick up a book and hate it, then try again in a different mood and love it.

  3. I think that whether someone is married or single but in a relationship, the most important thing is that the supporting character(s) not try to stop the sleuth from doing what comes naturally.

    I don’t think I have a preference for either relationship status. I just want a good story told. If the characters are designed to be together either, then drag out the single but together aspect of the relationship until it seems otherwise foolish to do so then marry them off and see how the dynamic changes even as the sleuthing continues on.

    1. I love having my characters grow as the series progress. It’s so much fun to see them become better and happier.

  4. I like my sleuths in stable relationships, and those can be with significant others or with long-standing friends. What is important to me is that the sleuth, once wed, maintains the same level of … sleuthdom and not suddenly defer to the significant other who has become a spouse or become a shrinking violet.

    1. For me, I think my characters actually become stronger once they’re in a stable relationship because now they have someone to watch their back.

  5. Congratulations on the release of ” Winner Cake All” and the awesome accomplishment of the release of book #33!

    As a true romantic and a believer in lasting relationships, I enjoy reading about couples in marriage/a committed relationship. Love to show how relationships form and mold into something that you just don’t say “I quit” and walk away from. It’s fun to see the protagonist go from single not looking, to the tease of a possible relationship, then the beginning of something wonderful, the marriage, and how that marriage enhances the storylines afterwards.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win one of your books – which I dearly love! Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.

    Have a great day and may your weekend be even better!

    Be safe, stay healthy and have a little adventure along the way – even if through the pages of a good book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Settled relationships are my preference always! I think Agatha Christie spoiled me with her Tommy and Tuppence characters.

  7. Denise you are amazing as an author and a woman! I love romance in books so I don’t care how it comes. I think it’s because I grew up reading a steady diet of romantic suspense.

  8. Wow, 33! Turns out I have been reading you for a long time! I don’t mind romance in my mysteries, but the fun in a married or established couple is you can bring out more of the Nick/Nora or Hart to Hart vibes! Thanks!

  9. I like a sleuth in a stable relationship, since she can count on support from her partner. Congratulations on number 33, and thank you for the giveaway!

  10. Welcome to the Wickeds, Denise! The professional sleuth in my first book, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, is happily married. I did it in reaction to all the damaged, alcoholic, unhappy sleuths I was reading about at the time. I was inspired by Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series.

  11. Congratulations on your 33rd book coming out the 29th!!!
    I enjoy reading either way in a book. Whatever makes the relationship work.😍
    Thank for the giveaway!
    Have a wonderful day!!!

  12. I don’t have a preference for relationship, but I do prefer that the relationship grow organically or be established at the beginning of the series.

  13. Congrats on ALL your books! I don’t really care if a sleuth is married or not. I’m happy as long as they keep solving the murders!

  14. So many sleuths in cozies are just starting new relationships, I actually find it very refreshing when the main character is in a steady, healthy relationship without tons of drama.

  15. I love a settled relationship in a book. I have loved watching your characters grow into their happily ever after and continue to be the bright, fun people they with a partner. Thanks for a chance to win!

  16. First of all, I want to say I love your books and have been reading them for years. The Scumble River books are my favorite but I love all of them.
    I don’t know if I have a strong preference as to the main character’s marital status, but I guess I like the happily married a little better.
    Keep the Scumble River mysteries coming!

  17. I much prefer a settled relationship. I get very tired of the push and pull of unresolved couples, or worse, “love” triangles.

    Hope Dani finds her true love soon.

  18. I like either type, as long as the relationship develops naturally and the courtship is not prolonged for so long that it feels unhealthy. Perfectly happy with married or otherwise committed partners.

  19. Congrats on your newest book!
    I don’t mind if the characters are single or in a relationship. Sometimes it’s fun to see how a new relationship evolves over the course of a series. Just so long as the romance doesn’t overshadow the mystery.

  20. If a love interest is introduced, I prefer that it grow into a stable relationship. However, I would be fine with a sleuth just investigating with family and friends. I love that Skye has an unusual career. Stay safe and well.

  21. I enjoy that they are either married or in a stong relationship. I think it helps them grow and develop even stronger characters. Love you books. Congratulations on the new book and the next Scumble River book

  22. Wow, both books sound intriguing and like great page turners! I love both book covers. I like to read about different things going on in the story, married, not married , I love either. Thank you so much for sharing about these 2 awesome sounding books. Have a Great weekend and stay safe. God Bless you and your family.

  23. I like both a settled/married sleuth and an unattended sleuth. I think it all depends on the book and series and how the story develops over time.

  24. I have been single most of my adult life. I really don’t consider the marital status of my sleuths in mysteries. I just want a good story.

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