Review: The Rocky Road to Ruin (Book #1: Ice Cream Shop Mysteries) by Meri Allen

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Riley Rhodes, travel food blogger and librarian at the CIA, makes a bittersweet return to her childhood home of Penniman, Connecticut – land of dairy farms and covered bridges – for a funeral. Despite the circumstances, Riley’s trip home is sprinkled with reunions with old friends, visits to her father’s cozy bookshop on the town green, and joyful hours behind the counter at the beloved Udderly Delicious Ice Cream Shop. It feels like a time to help her friend Caroline rebuild after her mother’s death, and for Riley to do a bit of her own reflecting after a botched undercover mission in Italy. After all, it’s always good to be home.

But Caroline and her brother Mike have to decide what to do with the assets they’ve inherited – the ice cream shop as well as the farm they grew up on – and they’ve never seen eye to eye. Trouble begins to swirl as Riley is spooked by reports of a stranger camping behind the farm and by the odd behavior of the shop’s mascot, Caroline’s snooty Persian, Sprinkles. When Mike turns up dead in the barn the morning after the funeral, the peace and quiet of Penniman seems upended for good. Can Riley find the killer before another body gets scooped?

Source: Purchase Rating: 4/5 stars

The Bottom Line:  I needed a new type of cozy in my life and until this book, I didn’t have a single ice cream shop in the mix of cozies I read.  Now I do and I won’t be giving up on this new series anytime soon.  Though I had a bit of a hard time buying into Riley’s job background, I found the rest of the read to be rather delightful.  Riley and her best-friend, Caroline find themselves in quite a mess when folks keep turning up dead, the financial situation related to the family farm is in question, and the ability to keep the family-owned and operated ice cream shop open is sketchy, at best. 

Given her somewhat hard to buy into background, Riley is the perfect person to poke around into all the various piles of crap that seem to keep cropping up.  Her inquiries lead her down some long-forgotten roads that will tie up not only the current murders but expose some truths long-buried and largely forgotten.  In addition to the sleuthing, Riley has agreed to take over the running of the ice cream shop and this is where I found myself most excited about the read, all the ice cream.  From the book of spells (recipe book!) to the wonderfully unique flavors and descriptions, I really felt a part of the environment and the crowd eager to get their hands on a scoop of their favorite flavor. 

Between the beautifully described setting (town, farm, community), the ice cream shop, and the characters, I think this cozy series is going to quickly make its way to the top of my favorites list.  Riley and Caroline have a tough road ahead of them, but they are two strong and determined ladies with a great community around them eager to see them succeed.  Onward and upward!

Goodreads | Amazon | Paperback

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