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.
Dorothy, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about the protagonist of In Cold Chocolate?
Charity Penn (just Penn to her friends) is chocoholic living her dream. She owns a chocolate shop on the small beach-side community of Camellia Beach in South Carolina. She’s a little nutty. She owns a small Papillon dog (Stella) who will occasionally bite her and anyone else. Because of her rocky past, she is slow to trust others. But she’s generous and always willing to lend a helping hand.
Are you and Penn anything alike?
Probably the only thing I have in common with Penn is that we both have trouble in the kitchen. I don’t know what it is. I try to follow a recipe, but things seem to go wrong on their own.
How would you feel about meeting her in real life?
I think that’d be awesome. I hope we’d get along. Maybe become best friends even. I’d love to get some free chocolates from her shop.
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
My characters change quite a bit from book to book. Charity Penn most of all. She starts out in book one quite broken and lost. In every book she learns more about her purpose in life and gains more confidence. Like in real life, our experiences change us.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
Well, yeah! Hasn’t everyone? There’s one person in my life that really gets under my skin. I decided not to kill her, but translate her crazy and hurtful actions into the actions of a character in my books. I’m not going to kill her. No, that’s too good for her. I’m going to keep her alive and torture her a bit instead. (Rubs hands together with maniacal glee.)
Well now I have to try to figure out who that is! And speaking of using real life in fiction, do you take liberties with your setting, or is it fairly realistic?
My Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries are set on a fictional island, Camellia Beach. The place is loosely based on the real town of Folly Beach, which is located near Charleston, SC. I chose to set the book in a fictional town so I could turn back time and depict the town as it had existed before it turned so touristy. I lived on Folly Beach for 20 years and love its quirky, artsy ways. I always knew I wanted to set a series there.
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten as an author is to write. If you write one page every day, by the end of the year, you’ll have finished a book. Everyone can write at least one page. The worst advice I’d ever heard was that an author needed to buy this or that advertising campaign in order to guarantee success. Yes, some ads are worth the price. But there are plenty of pathways to success. And since every book is different, no one can guarantee what it takes to get your book noticed. Just keep talking with people and your passion. The readers will eventually find you.
About the author
A lover of puzzles and perhaps a bit too nosey about other people’s lives, Dorothy St. James is a former Folly Beach beach bum. She now lives in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina with her husband, precocious daughter, slightly (OK, terribly) needy dogs, and the friendliest cat you’d ever meet. She has degrees in Wildlife Biology and Public Administration and as an urban planner, worked for many years telling the stories of small southern towns.
Author of a dozen novels, Dorothy enjoys writing both cozy mysteries and romance. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Alliance Southern Book Prize, 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.”