Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: For Whom the Bluebell Tolls (Bridal Bouquet Shop #2) by Beverly Allen

Deadly thorns lurk among the roses in this Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery

Florist Audrey Bloom, co-owner of the Rose in Bloom, creates fragrant bouquets for brides. But when a wedding goes fatally wrong, it’s up to Audrey to sniff out a killer . . .

Everything is coming up roses for Audrey when her dazzling creations are picked to be featured on a wedding reality show. The hot series is filming an episode about a bride who’s bonkers for bells, and Audrey’s bouquets of campanulas, calla lilies, and Bells-of-Ireland are perfect for the bridal theme.

But Audrey’s debut quickly becomes a hothouse of trouble. Her ex, Brad, shows up as a crew member on the show, threatening her blossoming relationship with Nick the baker. To make matters worse, when one of the show’s hosts is found dead in the bell tower of a historic church, all the evidence points toward Brad.

Now Audrey needs to weed out the real killer before someone else’s chance at stardom is permanently nipped in the bud. 

Here Come the Bridal Shows: Researching For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

When I first started researching for the Bridal Bouquet Shop series, I spent the bulk of my effort learning more about flowers, floral design, and the language of flowers. After all, I was writing first person as a florist, albeit one who solves crime. I needed to at least sound as if I created bouquets on a regular basis. (And I must have done an okay job. I’m tickled to get email from florists, saying “The flower shop feels so real. I wish I could work there with Audrey and Liv!”)

Perhaps it was serendipity that my daughter was planning her wedding at the same time, and together we combed the wedding reality shows on TV, initially for inspiration for her, but the programs also triggered a few ideas for the ceremonies and receptions that take place in the books. We looked at dress styles and centerpieces, trends and menus. And yes, the bridal bouquets.

It didn’t take long before I was hooked. At one point I was DVRing almost a dozen distinct reality shows focused on weddings--everything from the struggle to find the perfect dress to a program where an event planner swoops in (like a combination of Cinderella’s fairy godmother and Batman) and provides the perfect wedding. And yes, the grateful brides fan their glistening eyes with their long manicured fingers as to not smudge their perfect makeup.

Other shows have brides compete against each other, complete sometimes with snarky comments about the competitors. Still others programs seemed to focus on humiliating selfish and dysfunctional bridezillas, while they unraveled on television into pools of booze, snot, and runny mascara. Something for everyone. And more entertaining than many might think.

In For Whom the Bluebell Tolls, Audrey Bloom provides the flowers for a hot new reality show called Fix My Wedding. The show’s two popular hosts take the tacky plans of their brides, mock them mercilessly, and then provide their version of a dream experience. Supposedly. They come to Ramble, Virginia, because the current bride has a fetish for bells, and the town’s historic church with its old hand-rung bell provides the perfect backdrop for the wedding. And, apparently, for murder, when one of the show’s co-hosts is found hanged from the bell rope, pealing out his own death knell.

Also appearing in Ramble, just in time to become a suspect, is Audrey’s former boyfriend, who had dumped her to pursue his dream career in reality television. What impact Brad the Cad’s presence has on Audrey’s blooming relationship with Nick, the town’s baker, is yet to be seen.

But there are plenty of suspects to choose from. Modern-day weddings are rife with potential conflict. The stakes are high. Many young women started planning their weddings when they were little girls. Dreams are rigid, expectations are through the roof, budgets are swollen, nerves are frayed, and conflict is rampant. And that’s where the entertainment comes in. I knew then that setting one of the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries during the taping of a wedding reality show could be a blast. I hope readers have as much fun as I did!

Beverly Allen is the author of Bloom and Doom, the first entry of the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery series—and her first novel-length fiction–debuting this year from Berkley Prime Crime. Beverly is the pseudonym of Barbara Early, chosen because when she says “Barb Early” too quickly or in a noisy room, people hear “Beverly” anyway. She resides in Western New York state with her ever-patient husband and three naughty but adorable cats.

What I Liked About The Book:
*Audrey is wonderful!  She made me laugh on several occasions, which I really like in a cozy heroine.  Anyone that doesn't take themselves too seriously resonates very well with me.

*Flowers :) Who doesn't love flowers?  And the detailed way in which the author describes all of these flowers paints a beautiful picture right before your eyes.  It makes you want to run out and buy a bouquet for yourself!

*Anything bridal. It's every girl's dream, right? :)

*The love... sort of triangle.  I love Audrey and Nick's chemistry, but it's always fun to watch what happens between two people when there's a "threat" of someone else.  It generally generates a different kind of interaction between two people, and when Audrey's ex comes in to the picture, it does just that splendidly.

*The author's use of detail. I know I touched on this with the flowers, but it happens with everything.  The descriptions of the characters, the places, the things... it just brought the story to life and I felt like I was watching it on a television screen in front of me.  Just wonderful.

What I Didn't Like:
*Reality television.  I'm not a fan, and it is just as irritating when you're reading about it in a book!

This book was really good.  The mystery is well written and the characters are fun :)  It's definitely one any cozy reader will appreciate and enjoy!

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 copy of For Whom the Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen to give away to one of my lucky readers! Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!

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