Floral Depravity

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Floral Depravity (Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery #3) by Beverly Allen

Audrey Bloom has been working hard on her business, trying to keep it prospering, especially as her cousin and business partner’s Olivia’s due date is drawing closer and closer.

I’m so stressed

So why would Audrey take on a huge job for a medieval themed wedding, especially as she doesn’t know very much about Medieval customs?

But whether she has a lack or not, Audrey is committed. But not as much as the bridal party and guests. The bride is a Medieval Reenactor, part of the SCA, and wants as true as can be medieval wedding. Everyone is out in the middle of nowhere and as accurate as possible.

However, shortly after the wedding is done, the bride’s father is found dead! Being a man that is not very well-liked, possible suspects are everywhere.

Hmm…

Audrey finds herself deputized by the sheriff and on the case to discover who hated him the most.

But while questioning the wedding party, she discovers a most unexpected guest! Her estranged father! It appears there is much more to this case than originally thought.

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Thoughts After Reading:

While I originally loved the other books, this one was not as great. I figured out who the murderer was immediately and thought the rest of the novel wasn’t very well constructed.

However, I hope that will be remedied in the next book and look forward to it.

For more Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries, go to For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

For more by Beverly Allen, go to Bloom and Doom

For more mysteries about weddings, go to Capital Bride

For more mysteries involving estranged fathers, go to The Boscombe Valley Mystery

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For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

For whom the bluebell tolls

For Whom the Bluebell Tolls (A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery #2)

This is the sequel to Bloom and Doom. As I posted that book a while ago, let’s recap. In the first book, cousins Audrey Bloom and Olivia “Liv” Rose-Meyer; find their flower shop unwittingly involved in a murder. Audrey is trying to help an old friend call off a wedding to a wealthy man, offering her a job at the flower shop as she no longer will have an income. When said ex-fiancé is found stabbed to death by one of the flower shop tools given to the friend to help her practice, Audrey is on the case to clear her friend’s name.

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Time has passed since the first wedding and things at the flower shop are going well. Audrey has been dating Nick the baker, and that relationship is going well too. And to top it off; Audrey is closer to having enough money to purchase her grandmother’s cottage.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

But then a cloud comes over everything. Her ex-boyfriend, Brad, who left her for the city has come back to town.

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He’s not exactly back for Audrey, but works on the famous reality show Fix My Wedding. 

Wedding

Fix My Wedding is a show in which brides agree to go on air and submit to the all the wedding planners’, Gigi Welch and Gary Davoll, decisions as they create the perfect weddings: flowers, cake, dress, etc.

The place they were going to use for the wedding of a bride obsessed with bells falls through, so Brad told them about their old church with a beautiful bell; and now they are moving the event to Ramble, Virgina.

While the town happily opens up to the crew, others are not so happy. A bride from a wedding gone wrong, has come with a set of bridesmaids to protest the TV show.

And to make things even more difficult for Audrey, one of the show’s hosts, Gary, is an insufferable jerk and the bride a complete diva. Audrey soon finds herself regretting ever agreeing to be on the show.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

But when said jerky host dies, Audrey finds herself worried about more than flowers, as she has to figure out who the murderer is, before he can strike again. Especially as her ex-boyfriend is looking to be the one to hang for the crime.

While said ex was a complete jerk and moron, Audrey can’t stand to see him wrongly imprisoned. So she starts researching into the people surrounding the case and discovers that there is much more about these characters than meets the eye. Before Gary joined the show he was an investigative journalist who made many enemies. As Audrey tries to whittle down the suspects, she finds her love life also in turmoil, as she has to choose between the budding baker romance, or an old flame.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really enjoyed this mystery, more than the first one as it was far more challenging. It not only had a great twist, but continued that small-town Southern charm introduced in the first book.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next novel in this series.

For more Bridal Bouquet Shop mysteries, go to Bloom and Doom

For more mysteries involving weddings, go to A Scandal in Bohemia

For more Southern mysteries, go to Death by Darjeeling

For more mystery reviews, go to This Pen for Hire

Orange Chocolate Cake

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Thoughts Prior to Cooking:

When I read Bloom and DoomAudrey goes to visit her grandmother’s best friend, Mrs. June. While there, she is served Orange Chocolate Cake. When I read that, I was intrigued and decided to make it. The book however, did not carry a recipe so as I  read several recipes to find the one that sounded the best, and chose this one.

This recipe comes from Trisha’s Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life by Trisha Yearwood, on the Food Network website.

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Ingredients for Orange-Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed Orange Juice, plus 2 tablespoons finely grated zest
  • 2/3 Cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 cup Confectioners/Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Orange Juice

Directions:

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the softened butter and 1 tablespoon of the cocoa to make a thick paste.
  3. Use this paste to paint the inside of the pan. Set aside.
  4. In an electric mixer, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup cocoa and mix until blended.
  5. Add the orange juice, yogurt, vinegar and vanilla and mix until just combined, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Fold in the orange zest.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 45 minutes.
  8. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. For the chocolate glaze: Mix the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa together.
  10. Whisk in the orange juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches a good consistency to drizzle.
  11. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.

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chocolatecake

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Thoughts After Baking:

This cake was pretty amazing.

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It was more of a spice cake then chocolate and was fantastic.

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The only thing that went weird was the frosting. It was super dryso I had to add vanilla extract. I think the glaze from the Applesauce Cake would be better.

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For more cake recipes, go to King Arthur Carrot Cake or Cupcakes

For more chocolate recipes, go to No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

For more dessert recipes, go to Happy 4th of July Triple Berry Salad

For more Food Network recipes, go to Garden Pasta Salad with Bocconcini

For more recipes, go to Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

Bloom and Doom

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Bloom and Doom (A Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery #1) by Beverly Allen

Audrey Bloom and her cousin Olivia have opened up a bridal shop in their hometown of Ramble.

Double double yay

What makes their shop stand out from others is that they specialize in the meaning of flowers. Once something that crucially studied in the Victorian era but has died out today; the Bloom cousins have decided to bring it back.

Meaning-of-Flowers

After a newspaper interview declares that the Bloom sisters have a 100% success rate in their marriages, they are chosen to do the flowers for two big weddings. The first being the wedding of the Mayor’s only daughter to her sweetheart, and the second being Jenny Whitney with the most eligible man inn town, Derek Rawling.

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Jenny and Audrey used to be friends back in the day; garage sale buddies, hanging out every Saturday. One day Jenny dropped her, lost weight, and joined the popular crowd; sayonara Audrey.

See ya!

See ya!

But as Jenny comes into the shop to choose her flowers, Audrey notices that she is not as excited and unlike most brides doesn’t have a single idea what she wants in a bouquet. Strange.

Very suspicious

Very suspicious

Even weirder, as her mother is the one making the decisions, they pick flowers that mean forsaken and other bad omen type flora. Doesn’t look good one bit.

Not-Good

A few days later Jenny calls Audrey canceling everything she ordered. She has decided that she will not be getting married after all as she doesn’t really love Derek, but instead was just seeing him because her mother wanted her to. She isn’t sure what she will do next with her life as she hasn’t been trained in anything, besides the early days when before her dad died when they owned a restaurant.

idon'tknowwhatI'mdoing

Audrey takes pity on her and offers her a trial job working at the shop.

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Jenny tries but sucks at cutting and trimming the flowers. While everyone else thinks it is a bad idea, Audrey gives her a bag with the floral scissors to practice at home.

Meanwhile, every day the new bakery owner, Nick, has been coming in to purchase flowers. Audrey thinks he is pretty cute, but since her fiancé jilted her for a “more interesting” New York City, she has been wary. However, maybe this guy…

Very fishy

Maybe.

The next day, Derek is found dead.

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He was discovered in his car, murdered with the floral scissors. The police arrest Jenny as they believe that she killed him.

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Now Audrey, is eager to prove her friend is innocent; armed by her cousin, the new baker, and the rest of the floral staff.

gotthis

To make matters even worse, Chief Bixby is in charge of the investigation, and he hates the Bloom cousins. Not only did he arrest Jenny but he is also trying to pin the murder on Blooms as well.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So I really enjoyed this mystery. I thought the characters were fun, the knowledge of the flowers were actually interesting, and I was eager to read more.

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However, there were a few things I didn’t like. Like Bixby trying to pin everything on the Bloom cousins because of his allergy to flowers?

really?

Or when he confiscates every set of scissors because the murder weapon is a set of floral scissors. Why? It make no sense? He already had the murder weapon in his possession.

seriously

But otherwise it was a great read. I’m ready for the sequel.

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For more Southern Mysteries, go to Sew Deadly

For more books revolving around Weddings, go to ‘Til Death Do Us Purl

For more mystery reviews, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice