First-Degree Fudge


New candy store owner Ava Oosterling specializes in making heavenly homemade fudge and fresh starts. But she’s just found out that her newest flavor is to die for….

Between getting her store up and running and uneasily settling back into her charming Lake Michigan hometown, Ava Oosterling has her plate full. She hopes using local fresh dairy and her own flavorful imagination to cook up one-of-a-kind fudge will also create a brand-new start for her. And if she can tempt wealthy ex–film star Rainetta Johnson to try her newest creation, Cinderella Pink, at a local fund-raiser, maybe her road to big-time success will be short and sweet.

But when Rainetta chokes to death on a stolen diamond hidden in the fudge’s fluffy depths, Ava is pegged as the prime suspect. Now saving her business and reputation means investigating a batch of townspeople who had numerous reasons to hate disdainful, hard-bargaining Rainetta. With Ava’s best friend and her former flame in the suspect mix, she must figure out who the real culprit is fast or face a very bitter end.…

Includes Delicious Fudge Recipes and Fudge-Making Tips!

Series: A Fudge Shop Mystery (Book 1)


Ava Oosterling has recently returned to her small Wisconsin hometown to open a fudge shop. Eight years ago, on the eve of her wedding to Sam Peterson, Ava got cold feet and ran away to Las Vegas to elope with her sweet-talking ex-boyfriend Dillon Rivers. The marriage didn’t work out and Ava is still recovering and trying to find her niche in life. Now that Ava is home again, she finds her jilted ex-fiancé Sam, along with the rest of the townspeople, have never forgiven her.

Ava is starting to enjoy running the fudge part of the family shop while her grandfather runs his bait shop. However, after visiting celebrity Rainetta Johnson appears to have died after eating fudge from Ava’s shop, the whole town is quick to believe Ava is guilty of murder. With her grandparents “Gilpa” and “Grandma Sophie” behind her, Ava must find the real murders to save her own reputation and that of her family, as well as her freedom.

I thought this book would be a fun cozy based on the idea of a fudge and bait shop in a small Wisconsin tourist town. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with most of the main characters, especially Ava. I just couldn’t believe that if Ava was afraid to commit to Sam, who she had loved and was always there for her, that she would immediately marry her undependable ex-boyfriend. After Ava returns home, she seems to support her reputation for being flighty and unreliable and I didn’t care for her character. On the other hand, although it’s no surprise Sam would harbor hard feelings for being dumped, I couldn’t believe an entire town would hold a grudge.  When Ava becomes a suspect in Rainetta’s murder, even her own friends Pauline and Isabelle only seem to be partially on her side.

The plot of the book meanders as much as Ava’s attention span. Some things, like an incident in which Ava thinks her shop may have been robbed, are mentioned once and then never brought up again. Even though there are loose ends like this that aren’t closed, the mystery is wrapped up at the end. However, the book ends with a cliffhanger that in my opinion doesn’t bode well for the next installment.

Ava is most likable when she’s making fudge or having a heart-to talk with the kind and loving Gilpa or the wise and practical Grandma Sophie. If only her grandparents could have been the main characters in the book with Ava coming in as a side character, I would have enjoyed the book more.

The book concludes with some interesting information about the origin of fudge and a couple of fudge recipes. Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries by Joanne Fluke or JoAnna Carl may find First-Degree Fudge an enjoyable, light read.

Reviewed by Christine K.