This is a new series by Bailey Cattrell, who writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries as Bailey Cates, the Home Crafting Mysteries as Cricket McRae and Shotgun Moon as K. C. McRae, comes the first Enchanted Garden Mystery featuring custom perfume maker Elliana Allbright.
Copyright: Jan 2016 (Nal) 336 pgs
Series: 1st in Enchanted Garden Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, slightly Paranormal
Main Characters: Elliana Allbright, Owner Scents and Nonscense custom perfume and aromatherapy shop
Setting: Modern day, Poppyville, California
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
Elliana finds her part time employee Josie Overland dead in her garden behind her aromatherapy shop. Josie had confessed the day before of dating Elliana'a ex-husband Harris. It has only been about a year since her divorce and she has started her own business and was feeling happy and content, now she has Harris telling the police (particularly his police officer best friend) that he believes she killed his girlfriend out of jealousy. So Elliana must find who the killer is before she is arrested. Maybe Elliana has made one friend on the police force in Lupe Garcia, who seems to be the only officer looking for other suspects.
Additionally, her high school crush is back in town for an undetermined time. It's hard to make a good impression on the guy all the single gals in town are trying to date when you are avoiding arrest. Elliana is also awakening to the fact that her skills with aromas and botanical essences—some from her very own garden—seem almost…supernatural. Her perfumes can evoke emotions, bring about change, or simply make people happy.
Elliana is easy to like. She's one of those characters you would enjoy chatting with in real life. She works hard and is enjoying her new life. Astrid is her devoted good friend who is more a free-spirit. Harris is Elliana's narcissistic ex-husband who goes out of his way to make her life difficult. Ritter Nelson is her high school crush back in town, but for how long? He seems level-headed and a good guy - but he is due to leave again when his work gets the grant funding due shortly. The Greenstockings Club: Elliana, Astrid, Cynthia Beck owner of hair salon, Gessie King owner of a horse stable, and Thea Nelson landscape artist are members of the club to help women in business. This hodge-podge of local women has plenty of potential for future books.
The plot wasn't very complicated and clues are sprinkled as the investigation continues. The reader is working out the possible motives and suspects as Josie's past (pre-Poppyville) is revealed and works out the solution pretty much the same time as Elliana. There is plenty going on between the murder storyline, Ritter's appearance in town and it's effect on Elliana, plus her developing understanding of her gift with plants. All of which maintains the reader's interest.
The killer confrontation is tense and well done. The wrap up puts a smile on your face and leaves you disappointed to leave Poppyville and Elliana's mesmerizing garden.
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