I’m delighted today to welcome author Beverly Allen to Thoughts in Progress as she tours blogdom with her recent release, BLOOM AND DOOM, the debut book from her new Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery series.
Beverly will tell us what her wish is for readers and I’ll share my thoughts on this fun new series. In addition, thanks to Beverly and the delightful Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of BLOOM AND DOOM to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.
First, here’s a brief synopsis of BLOOM AND DOOM:
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.
A designer of eye-catching bridal bouquets—many of them based on the Victorian meanings behind each flower—Audrey Bloom is used to celebrations that end with happily ever after. In fact, every couple she’s worked with is still together, living in wedded bliss. But her perfect record is about to be broken.
Her childhood friend Jenny Whitney has reeled in the most eligible bachelor in Ramble, Virginia, and she’s hired Audrey to design the bouquet. But before Jenny can walk down the aisle clutching her blend of anemone, scabious, and pussy willow (a floral disaster in Audrey’s mind), the groom is found dead—sprinkled with bits of a bouquet. This is bad for business—not to mention for Jenny, who has become the prime suspect. So Audrey decides to do a little digging herself, hoping she won’t be the next Ramble resident pushing up daisies…
Please join me in welcoming Beverly.
My wish for BLOOM AND DOOM is that readers have at least half the fun I had writing it.
Audrey Bloom is a twenty-nine-year-old wedding florist, and she’s at that stage in her life where her idealism is being challenged by some tough realities. In many ways she’s still mourning her beloved Grandma Mae. The Rose in Bloom, the shop she runs with her cousin Liv, continues to struggle. Audrey also recently broke up with a long-time boyfriend--on the very day she had expected him to propose. The smart side of her (and she’s very smart) has decided she’s not ready for another relationship. The romantic side of her (the part of her that loves old movies and swoons over the town’s new cupcake baker) isn’t so sure, especially when she spends her days making things perfect for other people’s weddings.
Audrey loves the old Victorian language of flowers and enjoys helping a bride choose flowers that match her personality or characterize her relationship with her future spouse. In fact, Audrey just learned that no bride who has carried one of her bouquets on their trip to the altar has ever split up. But when an old friend shows up and asks for a bouquet of anemone, which means forsaken, it can’t be a good omen.
Researching all the old meanings and how they changed over time was eye-opening. Many modern florists use meanings that are all positive. (Probably because they’re trying to sell flowers!) But the older sources, while they don’t often agree on the meanings, will include many negative connotations as well. For example, to the Victorians an orange lily could mean I hate you. But now some say it means I burn for you. I may never look at a bouquet the same way again.
Not that I’ve ever worked as a florist… In BLOOM AND DOOM we also meet the local police chief, Kane Bixby, and he’s less than overjoyed at working crime scenes that contain flowers because he’s highly allergic. (Want to guess where I got that idea? Hmm?) Still, I toughed it out, even taking a course in floral design so I could get more hands-on experience. (Thank you, Benadryl!) I’m also fortunate to have a friend who retired from running her own flower shop, so she looks over all my designs and the general workings of the flower shop. She recently told me she’d gladly come out of retirement if she could find a job with Audrey and Liv!
And when the protagonist is a wedding florist, the series is bound to contain a wedding or two. Elaborate theme weddings can be a lot of fun to plan, especially when you don’t actually have to do the work or pay for the venue--and maybe even more fun if things don’t work out quite the way they were planned to!
All that wedding planning may pay off in real life, however, as my daughter recently announced her engagement. She wants calla lilies--magnificent beauty. Oddly enough, she wasn’t interested in using any of the weddings or bouquets from the series. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because people keep dying?
Of course, BLOOM AND DOOM is a cozy mystery, so in the middle of all that wedding planning, we have a body, breaking the peace of the cozy small-town of Ramble, Virginia. While Ramble is fictional, I had a small town picked out as a model. But while I was writing the first draft, my planned research trip kept getting delayed. It was only a couple of weeks before the manuscript was due that I was in the area and finally got to spend the day exploring my model town. I had a chance to visit the local visitors’ center, police station, and even hang around the local floral shop. While it’s not identical, the similarities were uncanny. I’m not sure I had to change anything. And I had the oddest case of déjà vus when I saw the idyllic Main Street, the historic churches, and the white gazebo in the town square!
I hope readers enjoy getting to know Audrey Bloom and the other residents as much as I have.
Beverly, thanks so much for stopping by and giving us this behind-the-scene look at BLOOM AND DOOM. I had never thought about flowers having negative and positive meanings, interesting.
Let me give you a bit of background on Beverly.
Barbara Early (A.K.A. Beverly Allen) grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Facebook Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set.
Beverly taught secondary English and science for several years before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. She cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance.
When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter.
For more on Beverly and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Now for my thoughts on
BLOOM AND DOOM by Beverly Allen
Audrey Blooms and her cousin, Olivia ‘Liv’ Rose, co-own and operate The Rose in Bloom floral shop. Audrey makes beautiful floral arrangements for brides based on the flowers’ meanings. While her own love life doesn’t have a good track record, the couples Audrey has made special bouquets for are all living the ‘happily-ever-after’ life.
Just as her childhood friend, Jenny Whitney, is about to be married, her fiancé (the most eligible bachelor in town) is found dead covered in the bride-to-be’s bouquet. With Jenny as the prime suspect, Audrey and the floral shop gang set out to find the real killer.
The author has created likable and well-balanced characters. She has blended mystery, murder, humor and a vast knowledge of flowers into a fast pace adventure that will capture your attention. The story offers twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.
The setting is pleasant and realistic. Readers don’t have to love flowers to enjoy this tantalizing mystery. However, don’t be surprised if you come away with a better appreciation of flowers thanks to Audrey (and the author).
BLOOM AND DOOM is a terrific beginning to an amazing new series that promises more excitement and intrigue to come.
Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen, A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery Book #1, Berkley, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425264973, Paperback, 304 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
This giveaway is for one print copy of BLOOM AND DOOM. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.
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Thanks so much for stopping by today and visiting with Beverly. What is your favorite flower and does it have its own special meaning to you?
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