This is the first book in the Rose Strickland Series by Terri L. Austin. This is another of the Henery Press Mysteries. So far everything I have read from them, I have enjoyed. If you are a cozy mystery fan, you really need to check out all their authors, I am sure there will be someone for you to enjoy.
This book introduces us to Rose Strickland, full time waitress and part time student. Rose has a stubborn streak a mile wide. When her parents told her that if she didn't stay at the college of their choosing she would be cut off, she went ahead and is working on forging her own path. That may mean that she lives in a small apartment and some weeks she has to choose gas over food, but Rose is doing it her way.
Rose's parent's are disappointed in and highly critical of Rose's life choices and even her sister, Jacqueline prefers to go along with their parents wishes and not make waves. Rose has formed a group of friends and co-workers that are know and like her for herself. There is Axton - fellow high society disappointment, Roxy - her best friend and coworker, Ma - owner of the diner where she works and Janelle - fellow student. This circle of friends is Rose's support network and surrogate family. When Axton drops off his 'never-goes-anywhere-without-him' backpack to Rose with instructions to keep it safe and then disappears, Rose fears the worst and fights everyone, including Ax's own brother to believe that Ax is in danger.
This was a very enjoyable first in a series book. Rose is a spunky protagonist who will go to the wall for her friends. We all want a friend like Rose. I really liked that while she tries to get along with her family, she refuses to bow to the pressure to become something she is not. Rose doesn't take the easy path, but fights for what she believes in, even and especially when it is hard. That is a lesson we can all learn from. I was a bit surprised throughout the story and the plot twists and turns kept me on my toes. This was a very enjoyable read and I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.