I am super excited to Welcome Cozy Author Beverly Allen
to Escape With Dollycas Today!!
It’s time to shake off the doldrums of a long winter and escape to a leisurely stroll in a flower garden. Just for your visit, we’ve even removed the bees. Our guide through the garden is Audrey Bloom.
What? Never heard of her? Maybe it’s because she’s a new kid on the block. Bloom and Doom, the first book in the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries, just released April 1st.
Audrey Bloom has a gift, it seems. Yes, she’s a talented florist who designs and creates gorgeous bridal bouquets, most based on the language of flowers. But at the beginning of Bloom and Doom, she learns that all of the brides who have carried one of her bouquets down the aisle are still happily together with their spouses.
That’s quite a record. And the book begins as a local reporter wants to learn the secret of her marriage success rate.
“Marriage success rate?” Audrey says. “Ha!”
Parts of the book grew naturally out of my own life. Audrey grew up spending summers with her beloved Grandma Mae and her cousin Liv. (I have a Grandma Bea–she just turned 90– and a cousin Lisa.) Audrey has had more than one career: dropping out of nursing school to become a florist. I went to school for engineering, but travelled a circuitous route to become a writer.
But other parts of the book took research. I’m a crafty person, but flower arranging was one of the few crafts that was never on my radar, due to some rather severe allergies. Even though I scouted out some wonderful “flower people” to help me with Audrey’s arrangements, I decided that I needed some hands-on training. So I enrolled in a course with a local florist.
Eyes burning and nose running, I wore gloves to protect my skin from the sap and managed to muddle through enough to be able to write the scenes at the florist shop. But it also gave me an idea for a character. The highly allergic Kane Bixby, police chief of Ramble, Virginia, gets more than a little touchy when all his crime scenes are suddenly filled with flowers!
Audrey’s arrangements have an interesting twist. She’s not just concerned about the color, size, and shape of flowers, but also their meaning in the old Victorian language of flowers. Determining flower meanings can be difficult, since modern florists have assigned positive meanings to all the flowers–something the Victorians never did. Probably because they want to sell flowers! But I was able to come upon a lovely reprint which I use extensively. In her attempt to find flowers with the perfect meaning for a given arrangement, Audrey on occasion will use flowers that many modern florists might not. Good thing they have a great local supplier.
All the wedding research went double-duty. At the same time I’ve planned at least one wedding for each book in this series, we’ve also been planning for a wedding in our family: our daughter will be married this June. Together, we’ve scoured through Pinterest and watched hours of reality shows from Four Weddings to Bridezillas to Say Yes to the Dress (and more), gleaning ideas of what to do–and in many cases, what not to do. The difference is that she’s having a lovely, tasteful wedding, while Audrey’s brides seem to plan over-the-top events where things could go awry.
And I love giving it that little push.
My daughter doesn’t want to use any of Audrey’s bouquets, though. Maybe it’s because someone keeps showing up dead?
To find out more about Beverly Allen visit her webpage here.
Bloom and Doom
(A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery)
Brand New Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (April 1, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Ben Perini
Cover Design by Diana Kolsky
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 2818 KB
As the co-owner of The Rose in Bloom, Audrey Bloom creates magnificent flower arrangements for brides to be. Though helping to plan a wedding can be stressful, it’s nothing compared to the groom turning up dead.
Audrey’s creations are inspired by the language of flowers – their Victorian meanings. She is stunned to realize that every couple married with her flowers is still happily married, not one divorce in the bunch.
Unfortunately her childhood friend Jenny Whitney may break that record. She is set to marry the most eligible bacjelor in town but before she can even walk down the aisle with what Audrey calls a “floral disaster” (a blend of anemone, scabious, and pussy willow) the groom is found dead and Jenny is the prime suspect. Audrey decides to do a little digging on her own hoping her co-workers won’t be making floral arrangements for her funeral next.
“Marriages and murder…flowers and felonies…cake and catastrophe”…what FUN!!!
Audrey is a treasure as is her cousin Olivia. The rest of the supporting cast is great too. I especially like Kane Bixby, police chief of Ramble, who like me is allergic to flowers, although I must say as I have aged my allergy has lessened so maybe there is hope for Kane. It was quite comical that he had to be surrounded by flowers for the entire investigation. Audrey’s interest in the Victorian meanings of the flowers was very appealing and added that little extra touch to the story.
Throughout the story The Rose in Bloom staff works extra hard to make the many flower arrangements for the funeral of groom who comes from a very important family and another high profile wedding. They even had to call in some extra reinforcements to help get everything done and delivered on time. It was crazy and I loved it!!
Allen also developed a strong mystery with plenty of suspects and twists that kept me guessing right up to the end.
Beverly Allen has found her cozy voice and this story is blooming awesome!! She has laid a great foundation for the series going forward.
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 1 copy to give away!
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Contest Will End April 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”