In Cold Chocolate
A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery
By Dorothy St. James, #3
Author’s Website: dorothystjames.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
In Dorothy St. James’s third delectable Southern Chocolate Shop mystery, a new batch of chocolate and troubles of the heart cause a string of disasters for the Chocolate Box’s new owner, Charity Penn.
The vintage seaside town of Camellia Beach, South Carolina seems like the perfect place for romance with its quiet beach and its decadent chocolate shop that serves the world’s richest dark chocolates. The Chocolate Box’s owner, Charity Penn, falls even further under the island’s moonlit spell as she joins Althea Bays and the rest of the turtle watch team to witness a new generation of baby sea turtles hatch and make their way into the wide ocean.
Before the babies arrive, gunshots ring out in the night. Cassidy Jones, the local Casanova, is found dead in the sand with his lover Jody Dalton—the same woman who has vowed to destroy the Chocolate Box—holding the gun. It’s an obvious crime of passion, or so everyone believes. But when Jody’s young son pleads with Penn to bring his mother back to him, she can’t say no. She dives headfirst into a chocolate swirl of truth and lies, and must pick through an assortment of likely (and sometimes unsavory) suspects before it’s too late for Penn and for those she loves in Dorothy St. James’s third rich installment of the Southern Chocolate Shop mysteries, In Cold Chocolate.
In Cold Chocolate, the third book in Dorothy St. James’s Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series, Charity Penn seems to be still trying to be accepted by all the townsfolk of Camellia Beach. Not an easy task given that her mother, her aunt, and her uncle are trying to overturn Penn’s inheritance of The Chocolate Box from their mother (Penn’s grandmother). I came into this series at this 3rd book hopeful that I would be able to catch up with the characters and enjoy the series from this point on. I must say, there was enough of a backstory to various characters that overall, I was able to follow their stories without much difficulty. Would I have like to start from the beginning….yes… but my enjoyment of the story was not diminished in the least by starting at this 3rd book.
One plus in my mind regarding Penn is that she does not shy away from admitting that she is sleuthing. She does not make excuses… she has a goal and a timeline and she is sticking to it. You see, the murderer (Jody – the accused murderer) is the mother of sweet young Gavin, who also happens to be the son of Harley, a potential love interest but most definitely Penn’s lawyer. And with school starting in the next week, Gavin has always had his mother take him on the first day of school. So Penn, it seems, will stop at nothing to make sure Gavin has his mother available to take him to the first day of school.
Another plus for this lovely cozy mystery is the setting in that this seaside town of Camellia Beach is a natural nesting place for sea turtles. And let me tell you, this town does not joke around about this… everyone is on board with saving the sea turtles natural nesting place. I love how a mystery involving the sea turtles also springs up (besides the murder of one Cassidy Jones, the local Casanova). Actually, as time goes on, there are more mysteries that need to be solved – but I shall let the reader discover those on their own. J I loved Penn’s enthusiasm when Althea asked Penn to join her on the beach, much to Penn’s initial reluctance:
Althea huffed. “I was hoping to make it a surprise. Some babies are about to be born. Actually, they’re several days overdue. We’re out here to greet them and make sure they get a good start in life.”
“Babies?” That intrigued me. And since I really should trust my friends, I walked (albeit slowly) over the wooden walkover that served as a bridge over the beach’s fragile rolling dunes.
“Baby turtles? We’re going to help baby turtles hatch? Where’s the nest?” I started a mad dash down the sandy beach, my arms pumping, because I didn’t want to miss the little ones’ arrival.
This dialogue set the whole tone for me. I liked how friendships could be trusted and nature was respected.
The mystery of who the killer was did stump me for a while, though about ¾ of the way through it finally hit me… who the killer had to be. But what was the motive? And more importantly… did I actually guess right?
I loved the local constabulary. They kept reminding Penn that she should leave the investigating to them, but of course, we all know how cozy mysteries play out…our amateur sleuth could not leave well enough alone. The townsfolks were also colorful and played important roles in the story throughout.
I also found intrigue in the mystery surrounding Penn’s birthright to The Chocolate Box. This is where reading book one and two might have helped? I will reserve that judgment until I read those two books. Needless to say, that mystery twisted and turned and certainly produced anxiety in Penn’s life… and in this reader as well.
There are so many good things to say about this book. It flowed so well that I was hard-pressed to put the book down, even for sleep.
I need to see how the budding romance between Jenn and Harley plays out. And will Jenn fully forgive Althea? I will certainly be on the lookout for further titles by Dorothy St. James, possibly one of my new favorite authors in the cozy mystery genre!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*