So I've been following this trilogy from the beginning when I picked up the first book (A Second Chance at Goodbye) at an author meet and greet. The second one, Ethel's Song: A Coming Home Novel, was next and I loved both of them. I've been impatiently waiting and I'm glad I didn't give up. This is wonderful end to the trilogy. Can't wait for the next series
Now I may be overly picky but I really didn't like the main character Charity Penn (or just Penn, not Penny). She was antagonistic, rude and not all likable. I get she has a horrible backstory/childhood but honestly, I was hoping she was the one who fell into the chocolate vat instead of her best friend from childhood. She hates her dog and instead of rehoming it, she lets it run wild.
When Penn finds out that she won a contest from a chocolate store in South Carolina---one she's never entered, her bestie surfer dude volunteers to head down toward Folly Beach. He calls her and leaves her with a mysterious "you've got to know" this message. Sadly, he dies and local police and community members think it was a drug related death. Penn immediately goes down there from Wisconsin and manages to insult a New Age shopkeeper who happens to be the daughter of one of the ladies who owns the candy store where the bestie died. Then there's a confusing relationship with the "Cheese King", Gretchen and Penn. It involves inherited money, investments and some cheating.
It's like the author opened the middle of the book in the first chapter. I didn't understand the first two chapters because of the history and my instant dislike of Penn. The actual plot/mystery was pretty darn good and the setting was colorful so kudos to the author for that.
4 out of 5 stars
This is a solid cozy debut for a new series. The characters are quite likeable especially the shop assistant, Keiko. Suspects abound when our protagonist, Max, discovers one of her bridal gown clients, Jennifer, unconscious and later dead , poisoned by an unknown murderer. The setting is an usual small town and I will probably buy the next book.
What puzzled me was that the book felt like it was a second entry in this series. Several characters including Max's dad and her best friend, allude to Max's ability to find lost things including a runaway child. I seemed to be missing minor pieces to the plot and reread a few chapters several times. There was also a backstory about Max and the main suspect (her former best friend whom she fell in love with). I had to double check to make sure this was the first book and not the second one. Also the length seemed short. On several book sites, it will cost almost $3 but there are less than 200 pages. It seems pricey for the amount of book.