And Only to Deceive

So every year in December leading up to Christmas I try and post a Christmas mystery. This year I had a really difficult time and had to go out on a bit of a limb. This book isn’t a “Christmas Mystery” but Christmas does play a role so it counts.

And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Mystery #1) by Tasha Alexander

Lady Emily is a widow.

But she isn’t sad as she never loved her husband.

Lady Emily Ashton is an only daughter and all her life her mother has been plotting and planning and maneuvering to get her daughter married off to a wealthy and eligible bachelor.

Emily chose Viscount Phillip Ashton as he seemed less chauvinistic and someone who would be okay to live with-and  of course by marrying she would be free of her mother.

Phillip was interested in the hunt, captured his quarry, and then went on a big game hunt to Africa were he became sick and died.

Emily was given freedom, money, large houses-she had to be absent from society for two years but that was okay as she didn’t really care for it. Life was solitary but it wasn’t bad.

Everything changed when her husband’s best friend came to visit after a year and a half. Mr Colin Hargreaves came to speak to Emily about how he made sure her Greek Villa was all in order, and she is free to go there anytime, just let him know and he will arrange the trip for her, Kallista.

Emily is completely surprised as her husband never said any thing about a villa and he never called her Kallista.

Emily is baffled by this and even more when her butler let’s her know that he fired a footman who was digging in her late husband’s desk. She starts looking to see if anything is missing,-although how would she know as she has never been in there really-and discovers a threatening note.

This is just the firsts in a series that makes Emily realize she knew very little, if anything about her husband. It turns out that he was an avid collector or Greek art-throughly knowledgeable in it and Greek history.

Hmm…

She also finds his journals and reads about his love for her (in incredibly sweet journal entries).

Emily’s interest is piqued and she begins reading Homer’s The Odyssey and researching into Greek art and mythology.

She discovers more things do not add up and that her husband was caught up in a fake antiquary scam. Could it be that he was duped, with all his knowledge and expertise? Or was he the ringleader?

Emily cannot believe the later, and as she reads her husband’s journals, she starts to fall in love with him, and remember wonderful and romantic gestures he would do, but took for granted at the time.

Emily isn’t sure who to trust, besides her old friend Ivy and new friend Lady Cécile du Lac. Colin spends a lot of time around her, and then she discovers that he has been watching her. Why? Could he be the ringleader?

Hmm…

She also meets another friend of her husband, Andrew Palmer, who is fun, light, sarcastic, and likes to party and go out. He gives Emily a lot of attention and she enjoys it, as anyone who has been sent to the sidelines would. He is from noble stock, but has no money. Could he be after her wealth, or is he really interested in her.

Hmm…

Colin and Andrew were both on the hunting trip with her husband, could one of them have killed him?

Then Emily gets a note about her husband being alive! Is he a criminal hiding out? Or was he betrayed by a friend and in need?

Emily sets off on a trek to Africa, will she be happy with what she finds? Or is she heading into a trap?!

Thoughts After Reading:

I really enjoyed this mystery as I liked that Emily was an independent woman with a strong personality and ideas about what she wanted, but at the same time she was still a woman of her times. I hate when people write historical fiction and the people are too much a product of our time. It makes zero sense.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

For more Christmas Mysteries, go to Mail Order Murder

For more historical fiction, go to The Secret Keeper

For more mysteries about widows, go to A Quiche Before Dying

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.

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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.

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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