In Cold Chocolate
By Dorothy St. James
A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery #3
Crooked Lane Books, 2018
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.
The atmospheric and multilayered In Cold Chocolate is an impressive, compelling, and engrossing read. It not only fulfilled all my expectations for an enjoyable cozy read, but took everything several steps higher. The writing itself is excellent and Dorothy St. James knows how to craft a story that draws readers in from the very first page. Reading the previous two series books would probably have given me a better sense of all that’s going on with the regular characters, but sufficient background is provided so that this story works well as a standalone.
Tightly-knit plot, rich characters, and beautiful setting are skillfully woven together and contribute equally to the story’s pull. South Carolina’s Lowcountry setting is vividly conveyed and so integral to the story that it almost becomes a major character. I was literally transported to the seaside town of Camellia Beach, home to Charity Penn and her delightful chocolate shop. Missing turtle eggs, family dynamics, and a question of parentage are just a few of the intriguing elements in this story. The rescue efforts of newly-hatched turtle babies is fascinating and I’m pretty sure I would be involved if I lived in a community like Camellia Beach.
In Cold Chocolate has an emotional hook – two or three, even – that drew me to these characters. Charity Penn is an appealing leading lady and I could easily relate to her work ethic and desire to be accepted into the community. Environmental and real estate development are in conflict with each other as the question of who Charity’s mother was and right to ownership of the chocolate shop continue to develop.
A murder case that seems to be open and shut, with the guilt of Charity’s nemesis being obvious, becomes anything but that when Jody Dalton’s ten-year-old son begs her to help prove his mother’s innocence. Whether in tension-filled moments or less stressful scenes, the pace moves steadily and I never wanted to put this book down. This is an excellent series and I hope for many more stories by Dorothy St. James.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Mystery author Dorothy St. James was raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, a neurotic dog, and a fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.
Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.
* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”