Cut down among the flowers . . .
Britta Johnston might be a late bloomer, but after leaving her deadbeat husband and dead-end job, she’s finally pursuing her artistic passion at her aunt Elin’s floral boutique, Blooma, in Portland, Oregon. It’s on the banks of the Willamette, in a quaint district of cobblestone paths and cherry trees. The wine bar featuring Pacific Northwest vintages is a tasty bonus, offering another kind of bouquet to enjoy. But things aren’t as peaceful as they look.
For one thing, someone’s been leaving dead roses around—and a sleazy real estate developer who wants the waterfront property has put a big-money offer on the table. Then, after a contentious meeting of local business owners, he’s found on the floor of the shop, with Elin’s garden shears planted in his chest. And before the police decide to pin the crime on her beloved aunt, Britta will have to find out who arranged this murder . . .
About the Author
Kate Dyer-Seeley is the author of Scene of the Climb, Slayed on the Slopes, Silenced in the Surf, First Degree Mudder, and In Cave Danger in the Pacific Northwest Mystery series, as well as the memoir Underneath the Ash. Her writing has appeared in Climbing Magazine, The Oregonian, The Columbian, Portland Family Magazine, and The Vancouver Voice. She is an active member of the Willamette Writers Association and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Visit her website at katedyerseeley.com.
Read an Excerpt
It had to be roses. Store-bought roses no less. The kind wrapped in cellophane with sprigs of baby's breath. They didn't even smell like roses. They smelled like plastic and looked like they'd been sitting in a refrigerated cooler for way too long. That's how I found out that my husband had been cheating on me. From an uninspired bouquet of stale roses.
I'd been working a double shift that day at the wholesale flower warehouse. The only thing I wanted at the end of a long workweek was a cup of strong tea and a hot tub to warm my aching toes. Minnesota winters had taken a toll on my feet, as if the cold had permanently seeped into my bones. Even after a decade of living in the Midwest, no amount of layering with wool socks or fur-lined boots could stave off the piercing chill.
"Chad, I'm home," I called, tugging off my gloves and throwing my keys next to a stack of mail by the front door. The house felt more frigid than the wind outside.
Must be another late night at the library, I thought cranking the heat to seventy-five. Chad, my husband, had been writing the next great American novel for the last five years. He had promised that he was finally close to finishing his masterpiece. I hoped he was right because I wasn't sure how much longer we could survive on one salary. For the past month or so he had been editing late every night until the library kicked him out, which I took as a positive sign that maybe — just maybe — he really was going to finish the book.
I flipped on the kitchen lights and lit the gas stove. The tips of my fingers were numb from the cold. I blew on them as I filled my stainless steel teakettle and placed it on the burner. Working as the floral manager for a mega wholesale chain meant long hours on my feet walking between rows and rows of sunflower stems, cut mums, and mini carnations. I'd spent half of the day trying to reroute three hundred alstroemeria to a bride in Wisconsin who had accidentally been sent yellow daisies for her winter white wedding. To say the very least she was not pleased about the mix-up and threatened that if I didn't find a way to fix it she would make it her personal mission to see me fired. Part of me wanted to tell her, "Please do."
As I opened my tea drawer, which I kept stocked with a variety of blends, I noticed a vase of roses on the countertop. Chad hadn't sent me flowers in years. I almost looked past their dull color and lack of fragrance. Had he finally finished his novel? Was this some sort of celebration? Or could it be that my self-absorbed husband had rediscovered his romantic streak?
A handwritten note was tucked into the top of the bouquet. I smiled as I ripped open the envelope. What an unexpected surprise.
Darling, What a night. Your kisses are like poetry.
I paused before continuing to read. This was a surprise. Chad never called me darling, and he hadn't kissed me in weeks.
Your golden curls swirl in my dreams at night.
What did that even mean? No wonder he hadn't finished his novel. Talk about terrible writing.
And there was one major problem. My hair is brown. Dark brown. Nearly black, as a matter of fact.
The teakettle let out a shrill whistle. I jumped and dropped the note on the floor.
How could he? I thought, removing the kettle from the stove. After everything I'd given up for him? The jerk was cheating on me.
My hands shook as I poured scalding water into a mug over jasmine tea. Steam enveloped my face. Suddenly I didn't feel cold anymore. My husband was cheating on me.
I grabbed the note from the floor and ripped it to shreds. Then I threw it and the flowers into the trash. Maybe I should have felt more conflicted, but knowing that Chad had been cheating on me left me feeling strangely relieved.
Things had been less than great with us for years. I just hadn't wanted to admit it. And if I was completely honest with myself I was partly to blame. Not for the cheating. That was despicable and unforgivable. But for staying. Why had I stayed all this time when I was miserable?
Out of loyalty? No. Probably out of fear. Staying with Chad was easy. He didn't push me to challenge myself. He didn't encourage me to follow my dreams. He was quite content to follow his own and let me tag along. And I'd done it willingly.
My tea had steeped to perfection. I pulled a barstool over to the kitchen counter, sat down, and cradled the warm mug in my hands. The scent of jasmine had a calming effect. I took a deep breath, letting the smell of sweet flowers infuse my pores.
I hadn't been happy in years. In fact, I'd been miserable. Working at a soulless flower warehouse was never what I imagined for my future. Maybe this was the kick in the gut that I needed. I breathed in the tea.
When was the last time I was happy — really happy? I took a sip of tea and reflected on the past decade. My fondest memories were from when I was living with Elin in Portland.
Elin raised me after my parents died. Originally from Sweden, she had moved to Portland, Oregon, when I was seven. The Rose City's laid-back European vibe was a perfect match for her and her floral boutique Blomma. I grew up surrounded by flowers and Elin's impeccable eye for design. I'd always planned to return and help Elin with her busy shop, but then I met Chad. We were both students. I was attending the Floral Institute and he was studying creative writing. He used to whisper poetry in my ear while I sewed garlands of greenery together until late in the night.
In those days his dedication to finding the right words to express himself and crafting a superb sentence seemed romantic. We shared an artistic passion. My medium was flowers. His was words. It wasn't until I followed him to Minnesota that I began to realize that his words were really empty promises. He couldn't get a real job — like me — because crafting brilliant literary prose took hours of concentrated time and focus. Despite working two jobs, at the warehouse and filling in as a part-time designer and delivery girl for a local FTD shop, the cooking and housework fell to me because Chad insisted that his days be free in order to strike whenever the muse appeared. The muse rarely appeared. Usually he spent his days lounging on the couch watching reruns of highbrow television like Saved by the Bell.
I didn't need a muse to inspire me. Mother Nature does just fine in that department. She provides ample material to work with. I love blending nature into bouquets. Like a winter wreath adorned with snow-white lilies and delicate red holly berries. Or a simple summer bunch of blushing pink roses, snipped free of thorns and wrapped tightly in rustic twine.
Chad and I had discussed starting my own shop when we moved to Minnesota, but we were short on cash, so I got a job working for the biggest floral distributor in the Midwest. The pay was decent, but there was no room for creativity. My boss didn't care when the carnations' color was off or that the mass-produced roses we peddled had no scent. He would remind me time and time again that flowers were a business, not an art.
I tried to save as much as I could in hopes that in a year or two I'd have a down payment for my own store, but Chad's writing expenses constantly ate away at my dreams. He needed cash for writers' conferences, a faster new laptop, "how to write" books, and his daily trip to the coffee shop. I took a second job waiting tables to make ends meet, and shoved my visions into the back corners of my mind.
It was only late at night, when I'd soak my feet in a warm tub and drink my tea, that I allowed myself to dream. Just a little. Just enough to stay sane. Every time I came close to leaving, Chad would promise that the novel was nearly done. As soon as it was finished and he sold it, it would be my turn to thrive.
That was never going to happen, Britta. Never, I thought as I finished my tea. It was time for me to do something different. Time to do something for me. And I knew where to start — Portland.
I deposited my mug in the sink, picked up the phone, and punched in Aunt Elin's number. My pulse rate was steady as I explained that I wanted to come home. Elin quickly agreed. The timing was strangely synchronistic. For months Elin had been renovating the space adjacent to Blomma to become a place where she would host couture workshops and classes. She was preparing to launch her new cottage in spectacular style with a floral fashion show. The party was less than three weeks away, which meant that she was eager for another set of hands and any help I could offer.
Within the hour I booked a train ticket to Portland and packed my bags. I couldn't believe how clear my decision seemed.
Chad came home sometime after midnight. I heard him unlock the front door and tiptoe down the hallway to our bedroom. When he asked if I was still awake I pretended to snore. In truth, I didn't sleep most of the night. I stared at the popcorn ceiling without a trace of regret. My stomach flopped with excitement. I hadn't been back to Portland in almost a decade. I couldn't wait to see Elin and finally have a chance to test out my artistic ability — if I still had any.
I wouldn't even have to change my name. Traditionally, Swedish women didn't take their husband's last names — it wasn't until the end of the nineteenth century that women began adopting them. My grandmother and mother had retained their original surnames after marriage, and I had followed suit, paying tribute to a strong line of women who came before me.
It was still dark outside the next morning as I lugged my suitcases through the dirty snow and left for the train. Chad hadn't stirred when I got up. I wondered how long it would take him to figure out that I was gone for good.
At the station the conductor took my ticket and showed me to my sleeping compartment. The little money that I'd managed to save was mine and I decided I was going to be comfortable on my journey into my new life, so I splurged on a sleeper car and a glass of red wine and double chocolate cake for dessert on my journey west.
I spent the next two days watching the landscape change outside the window. Flat prairies coated in a deep layer of snow gave way to hills and mountains. As the train chugged closer to the Pacific coast the sky began to shift. Gone was the blanket of white. I'd made it into the land of color — majestic evergreen trees, cobalt rivers, and a striated sky. I grinned as I pressed my nose to the window and took in the sight of Portland's vibrant colors. Crayons would be jealous of Portland's complexion. From peppermint striped climbing roses to gardens of neatly blooming rows of tulips, the Rose City looked as if it had been brushed by the hand of a master painter. Henri Matisse's words came to mind, "There are always flowers for those who want to see them." I felt like I was awakening, emerging from a cocoon of darkness, and ready to really see the flowers around me.
"Hej!" I recognized the sound of the Swedish greeting before I spotted my aunt. "Britta!" Elin waved through the clad of travelers wearing raincoats. She stood next to the platform of Portland's historic brick Union Station. "Over here!" She held a bundle of pale purple peonies in her arms.
The years have been kind to her, I thought as I walked toward her. Her pale hair fell to her shoulders in a blunt bob. She walked with a casual elegance and her bright blue eyes sparkled with delight.
I look like my father. No one ever believes that I'm half Swedish. My mother, like Elin, had been tall, thin, and blond. They were both born in Sweden, but moved to Portland as young children. Living in the Pacific Northwest didn't stop them from keeping their Scandinavian traditions or language alive. I grew up speaking Swedish exclusively to my grandparents and Spanish to my dad, who was Argentinian. I inherited his dark hair and olive eyes. Although my pale skin definitely came from my Scandinavian side.
"Aunt Elin!" I hugged her tight, smashing the peonies.
"Britta, darling. Let me look at you." She took a step back, holding onto my arm. "You look absolutely beautiful. You're glowing."
I laughed. "I don't know about glowing. Maybe more like glowering with anger."
She fluffed the flowers and handed them to me. "You know that peonies are flowers of good fortune. They're meant to support your future and bring healing."
"Tack!" I thanked her in Swedish and took the bouquet. "I could use some of that right now."
"That's what I thought." She kissed both of my cheeks.
"Where did you find them this time of year? They're not in season."
"Not here, no, but my suppliers can get me almost anything. I put in a special order for these when I learned that you were coming home."
I sighed. "That's the nicest thing anyone's done for me in a long time, Moster." I fell into using an old Swedish term of endearment for my aunt.
She shook her head. "Well we're going to have to do something about that, aren't we, lilla gumman?" She too lapsed into Swedish. Loosely translated, lilla gumman meant my little darling. Warmth spread up my body. It was good to be home and back with someone who knew and loved me.
She motioned to the parking lot. A light drizzle fell from a patchy gray sky. "Bundle up. There's a chill in the air today."
"A chill?" I grinned. "This is beach weather compared to Minnesota." I craned my head upward and let the rain mist on my face. "It feels blissful."
Elin helped me with my bags and directed me toward a black Jeep with the Blomma logo printed on the sides. Like everything that Elin touches, the logo was a simple understated design. The word Blomma was written in a pale mint green modern script that reminded me of whimsical ivy vines.
We put the bags in the back. Elin turned the heat on, while I shrugged off my winter parka. Hopefully I wouldn't need it again. Ever.
"Do you mind if we go to the shop first?" Elin asked as she maneuvered the Jeep onto Broadway and headed toward downtown. She wore a cable-knit sweater, jeans, and rain boots. Standard Portland attire. I couldn't wait to ditch my Midwest layers for good.
"Not at all," I replied staring out of the rain-splattered window. "I'm dying to see the workshop."
Elin pointed out a variety of new buildings and high-rise condos as we made our way through downtown. Portland had grown dramatically since I last visited.
I glanced toward the riverfront, where bikers and joggers exercised despite the rainy sky. I couldn't do that back in Minnesota right now, I thought.
After a quick drive, Elin steered the Jeep into Riverplace Village. My heart thumped with excitement. This was the home that I remembered.
Riverplace Village is like its own little city within the city. It's easily accessible by foot or bike from downtown. The Willamette River is just steps away from the village of eclectic shops, restaurants, and the famed Riverplace Inn. It's a favorite stop for tourists, as there's no need to leave the village. You can spend the afternoon reading a book and watching the geese on the grassy hill next to the river, stroll along the riverfront footpath, stop for an espresso, and of course grab a gorgeous bouquet of flowers or glass of Oregon pinot noir at Blomma.
When Elin emigrated from Sweden she brought her European culture with her. Blomma is the only flower shop–wine bar in town.
"It's just like I remember," I said, squeezing Elin's hand as I stepped out of the Jeep. Blomma's front windows were draped with olive leaf garlands intertwined with clementines, lemons, and gold LED lights. Forest green awnings hung above windowed garage doors that had been painted deep red. A sandwich board sat near the entrance. Elin had written a quote in her lovely handwritten script: "Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light." ~Theodore Roethke.
I adjust the bundle of peonies. "What a wonderful quote."
Elin smiled. "It's true. Wouldn't the world be a much kinder place if we all held more flowers and light, yes?"
"Yes." I glanced at the blooms in my hand and then down the long cobblestone path that connected the other shops in Riverplace Village. Two doors down the windows of Demitasse, an artisan coffee shop, were thick with steam. Torch, a candle and specialty gift shop, sat on the other side of the street from Blomma. Farther down there were a hotel, an Italian restaurant, and an American bistro. Cherry trees strung with twinkle lights and antique lampposts flanked the path. Every storefront had tempting window displays, collections of outdoor seating, giant planters, and welcoming signage. I'd forgotten how quaint and homey the village felt.
Excerpted from "Natural Thorn Killer"
Copyright © 2018 Kate Dyer–Seeley.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kate Dyer-Seeley has a way of painting scenic locations with her words that you just can’t help but fall in love with and this book is no exception. Britta and Aunt Elin are charming characters with so much potential to blossom in future books. I can’t wait to see where they go next!
Dollycas’s Thoughts Blooma, a flower/wine shop in Portland Oregon is where Britta Johnston finds herself after leaving her lazy husband and job behind. Her Aunt Elin’s shop is expanding and she is thrilled Britta is bringing her artistic talents home. Soon after Britta arrives she learns that a real estate developer wants to buy out all the local business owners so he can tear everything down and rebuild a marketplace with housing on the waterfront. Most of the owners are refusing to sell, but the developer gives one last push and that push may have caused his demise. Britta arrives at Blooma and discovers the developer dead surrounded by dead roses and her Aunt Elin’s garden shears pushed right into his chest. When the police decide Elin is their main suspect Britta decides to sow a few seeds of her own to find the real natural thorn killer. Blooma is a delightful setting for this cozy mystery. Elin’s interest in wearable items made of flowers is unique and fresh as is her whole outlook on her business. Flowers grown locally is what she uses for all her creations. She tunes and really listens to her customer’s wishes to make something original and that is what set her above other florists. Plus she has a wine bar and she is opening up a cottage next to the shop for events and classes. The whole Riverplace Village sounds pretty fantastic. We meet Britta Johnston in the middle of a cold Minnesota winter when she is fed up with her husband and realizes she will never be happy at her job. She just packs up, gets on the train and heads home to Portland. I myself would probably take the Minnesota weather over the Oregon cold rainy weather but I sure can’t blame her for changing her life and following her dream especially when her aunt’s business is the perfect place for Britta to bloom. The mystery was well planned and plotted. I formed an instant dislike for the victim, as had almost everyone around him. That means plenty of suspects. It also means Detective Pete Fletcher and Officer Thomas “Tomo” Iwamoto spent a lot of time around the flower shop. I really enjoyed Tomo, he was so friendly and good-natured. Detective Fletcher was great too. The mystery was not easy to solve and kept me guessing right up until the end. All of the characters we met within this story were pretty fleshed out for the first book in a series. They were very engaging and relatable. They are characters I want to get to know more about and the relationships they build together. This series is off to an excellent start! I am excited to see what is next for Britta and Elin.
Looking forward to the next book in the series !!
Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley is the first installment in A Rose City Mystery series. Britta Johnston has been putting her dreams on hold (having her own floral shop) and working two jobs so her husband, Chad can work on his novel (he needs to concentrate on it fully). When Britta discovers that Chad is having an affair, she decides it is time for a change. Britta packs up her belongings and heads back home to Portland, Oregon where her Aunt Elin lives and has her floral boutique and wine bar combination, Blooma. Aunt Elin raised Britta and is happy to have her return. The timing is perfect since Elin is getting ready for the grand opening of her cottage that will feature classes/workshops on floral design (flower jewelry for example). Britta is soon immersed in running Blooma, but not everything is rosy. Someone is leaving dead roses at the shop and a seedy real estate developer is intent on buying up Riverplace Village (where BLooma and other charming shops are located). Britta is opening up Blooma one morning and notices the doors to the cottage are open. She goes inside and finds Frank Jaffe, the developer, on the floor with Elin’s floral shears sticking out of his chest and roses scattered on the floor. Detective Pete Fletcher hones in on Elin as the killer which makes Britta determined to dig up the guilty party. In Natural Thorn Killer I was drawn right away into the story. I liked the author’s conversational writing style. The book had a nice steady pace and good flow. The two main characters of Britta and Elin are engaging and relatable. I liked their creative energy and ideas. I appreciated that the author gave the characters a Swedish background and had Swedish words/phrases sprinkled throughout the story. Two side characters that added to the story were Nora who owns Demitasse (spunky) and Officer Tomo Iwamoto (great personality). I enjoyed the descriptions of the Riverplace Village where Blooma was located. It sounds just charming and has a nice small-town feel (even though it is in Portland). The author included some interesting facts about Portland. I did feel that it was too soon for a romance for Britta since she just left her cheating husband. I really hope that there will not be a love triangle (there are hints of it). The author included wonderful descriptions of the flowers and arrangements created at Blooma along with interesting facts about the flowers. She really brought them alive with her words. The one downfall of the book was the mystery. There were a limited number of suspects and little investigation (just some questioning). There was a lack of action and the reveal was disappointing. I wish the author had found a different way to wrap up the book (it was more supposition that fact). The why part of the murder was slightly farfetched. At the end there are tips for increasing the longevity of a bouquet of flowers, recipe for Swedish pancakes, and how to pair flowers with wine (never thought of that before). I give Natural Thorn Killer 4 out of 5 stars. If the mystery had been more compelling, I would have been a very happy reader. The next book in A Rose City Mystery series is Violet Tendencies.
attention to detail, well developed characterization, and a captivating plot NATURAL THORN KILLER by Kate Dyer-Seeley The First Rose City Mystery Britta Johnston lives a lackluster existence in Minnesota working at a mind numbing wholesale florist company to support her husband who's been writing the great American novel for years. When she discovers he's cheating on her, she stops kowtowing to him, packs her bags, and returns to Portland, Oregon and the aunt who raised her. The timing is perfect for Aunt Elin as she's getting ready to launch a new part of her floral boutique and wine bar, but not so perfect for the loud egocentric real estate developer who wants to raze the entire shopping village to make way for new development. After a contentious shop owner meeting, Britta finds him dead in Blomma surrounded by roses. Now Britta finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation while making a new life for herself. NATURAL THORN KILLER is a delightful start to a new series. The setting is unique and described so vividly it was easy to see myself walking through the village and stopping at all of the wonderful shops. The characters are engaging with backstory evident and starting to ooze out. I especially liked how the author brought different cultures to the fore. The addition of Swedish language and culture not only brought interest, but a feeling of hygge. I also loved the character of Tomo, not only his fun loving attitude, but his Japanese culture. And I want some of his mom's noodles! With attention to detail, well developed characterization, and a captivating plot NATURAL THORN KILLER is a winner. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
This was a very enjoyable cozy mystery. I enjoyed meeting Britta. I don't know how she had the patience with a husband who didn't work and basically mooched off his wife. What a shock poor Britta had when she found out her husband was cheating. Oh he made me so mad with his excuses and begging Britta to come back. I say fat chance of that happening. The best decision she made was packing up and going to stay with her aunt Elin. It's a perfect arrangement for both of them. Britta has come to the picturesque place nestled in Portland, Oregon. The description that the author gives about the area had me wanting to pack up and move there myself. She helps readers visualize the quaint shops and beautiful landscape. I was mesmerized by the details of the flowers in Elin's flower shop. I didn't realize there were so many different kinds of roses, but I sure could smell the intoxicating scent as you open the door to the shop. The intricate knowledge of flowers really highlighted the story for me. Elin is excited about expanding her business and Britta has come at the perfect time to help her. I could sense the excitement Britta had when she knew she would be running the shop as Elin focus is on teaching classes about floral techniques, designs and other related topics that include the beauty of flowers. There is just one problem with this great plan and his name is Frank Jaffe. I didn't like his rudeness and superior attitude at all. He has this big plan that include buying Elin's shop and developing it into something profitable. Many shop owners are not in favor of being bought out and Frank seems to have made some enemies in the town. I wonder who Britta finds dead in the shop the day after Frank tries to convince everyone to let him buy them out? My question is why and how did he get into the shop? I enjoyed the investigation and the determination Britta had to help solve the murder. The author does a great job of letting readers get to know the characters with wonderful dialogue and fascinating facts about them. It is a race to the finish as Britta starts to get too close to the true killer. Can she clear her and her aunts name before someone else gets hurt? I have become a huge fan of the author and can't wait for the next book in the series. At the end of the book the author has included floral tips as well as some delicious recipes to cook up. I received a copy of this book from The Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. The review is my own opinion.
After adoring this author's Pacific Northwest cozy series, I am basically here for everything/anything that she writes. So you can probably guess how thrilled I was to hear that she had this new series coming out! I can't say that I've yet read a cozy series featuring flowers but I was definitely here for it. And I loved my time with this book and these new characters. It was a fun read and definitely different from any of the other cozy series that I'm currently reading. In this book, Britta comes home to Portland after realizing how unhappy she is in her marriage. Her passion is flowers so she comes back to help her aunt in the floral boutique that her aunt owns. Soon after she arrives though, trouble finds them both as a dead body is found in the cottage behind their floral shop. And just as fast, I was hooked on this book and these characters! I think though before I tell you everything that I enjoyed about this book, that I better tell you about my one and only complaint with this book. I feel like the author completely glossed over Britta's failed marriage in the beginning of the book. It almost would have worked better for me if she hadn't included the discovery of her husband being unfaithful. There were just no details relating to it all and everything happens so fast - I could have skipped all of that and just started with Britta arriving in her old hometown. My two cents though so take it for what it's worth! As soon as the murder happened though, I was firmly entrenched in the story and figuring out whodunnit. I also really became attached to both Britta and Elin's characters. I think that the author has a knack for creating characters that you come to care about which happened while I was reading this book yet again. I'm really looking forward to more books with these characters! I also loved how in this book the author gave tidbits and details relating to Britta and Elin's Swedish heritage. It just added a different flavor to the book that I couldn't help but enjoy. The mystery portion was also very enjoyable. I didn't figure out who the killer was until the very end (although I did suspect at one point). It's always fun to find that the author is able to turn you around enough that you don't see the end coming. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this book and have already added the next book to my TBR list (despite the fact that it isn't scheduled to release until November of this year). I will be right there ready to gobble it up when it does come out! I found myself easily swept away by this book and it has me wishing to visit Portland sometime myself. I even wouldn't mind a rainy day or two thanks to reading this one. Ha! I loved that this book was so focused on flowers...something that I wouldn't have said that I was terribly interested in. I love to garden but fresh veggies are where it is at for me. I just might have to consider planting some flowers though after enjoying this book so much! I can easily recommend this book to cozy mystery fans. It just has the perfect cozy feel that I look for. And don't worry food lovers - the author included enough delicious descriptions to scratch that foodie itch that I didn't even know that I had. Recommended! Bottom Line: A really enjoyable beginning to this new cozy series! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my honest opinion.
She's done it again! Another amazing cast of characters that I'm in love with! This new series has amazing potential and hooked me right away. I have the blackest of thumbs but the way Ellie writes makes me want to grow a field of flowers! She's incredible and I know you'll all love this new book!
I am already a fan of Kate Dyer-Seeley/Ellie Alexander so it was no surprised that I was captivated by the first book in her new series. The idea of a florist sounded great and these two ladies are exceptionally talented. I found descriptions of working the flowers and arrangements as fascinating as I did the mystery, especially the work they did for the floral fashion show to launch the expansion of the classes. I have noticed in her other books that the vocational details are so well written into the story that I always enjoy reading those parts, which isn't always true of other cozy mysteries. The secondary characters are delightful, or really really irritating, and I quickly become connected with Britta and her aunt Elin who owns the shop. Getting a back story for each of them help create main characters as whole people for me and made them more real. Britta is in the process of divorcing her husband and castigates herself for sticking with with an emotional vacuum until she almost lost herself. The hints of romance fit well into this stage of her life since she isn't really ready to move forward, but what woman who has been ignored and taken advantage of wouldn't be ready to feel special in the presence of a good guy. The mystery had me wondering all the way through and trying to evaluate each of the characters as potential killers.
Kate Dyer-Seeley's Natural Thorn Killer introduces the reader to Britta Johnston who has left her cheating husband back in Minnesota and returned home to Portland to join her aunt Elin, and help with Elin's flower shop, Blooma. She's settling in nicely, getting ready for the grand opening of Elin's expansion into the cottage next door, when she stumbles upon the dead (and murdered!!!) body of real estate developer Frank Jaffe. Lots of suspects in the trendy Riverplace Village, but Ms. Dyer-Seeley kept this reader guessing whodunit until the end! Well done, and I really enjoyed this first book in the Rose City Mystery series!
Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley was an excellent beginning to this new cozy series. I admired Britta when she moved back to Portland. She's so much stronger than she thinks she is and her character is evolving in this first book. I can relate to some of her feelings as she makes the decision to move home to "find herself". Ms. Dyer-Seeley's descriptive writing of Portland and the flower arrangements made me feel like I was there in the shop and cottage. The story line flowed, the pacing of the plot was quick and the twists kept me guessing until the reveal. I also enjoyed the subtle possibility of a romance for both Britta and her aunt Elin. The secondary characters were also well drawn and I am looking forward to getting to know them better in future books. I want to walk through the shops and be friends with all of them. I have to say that I enjoyed everything about this book from beginning to end. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own. I would like to sincerely thank Kensington for allowing me to read this ARC.
Sometimes you just connect with an author’s writing style immediately. Sometimes you connect with the main character of a cozy from the very first book. Other times you connect with the relationships depicted, the setting described, the chosen careers of the character or the way the suspense is built. And sometimes, it all just clicks and the book is deeply enjoyable. Happily, Natural Thorn Killer was one of those books that just clicked with me on so many levels. The characters are well-rounded, the descriptive writing is wonderful and the plot is expertly crafted. If you are a fan of the cozy mystery genre, I recommend this author.
I received a free copy of Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley in exchange for an honest review. Britta Johnston, floundering florist, has been working multiple jobs for years to support her husband while he works on writing his first book. Britta Johnston, furious florist, packs her bags and leaves her husband when she discovers he has been copulating instead of creating in his copious free time. Britta moves home to become a family florist by helping her Aunt Elin in her newly expanded floral boutique. Britta then becomes a florist fascinated with investigating the homicide of a man she found slain in her aunt’s workshop. As Britta works to become a flourishing florist, she makes friends, practices her art, begins to reawaken her heart, and figures out whodunit. This was a refreshing cozy mystery. The protagonist moves to a big city, so you do not have to worry about the town’s population level dropping drastically over time. I enjoyed the book and hope you will, too! #NaturalThornKiller #NetGalley
Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley is a great start to a new series. I am a huge fan of Ellie Alexander, so when I realized that she also writes as Kate Dyer-Seeley, I was beyond thrilled. Britta, the main character, returns to her home town of Portland after a tumultuous marriage. Returning home to her Aunt Elin unleashes the designer in her and her floral creativity took my breath away. The author describes Britta's floral designs in such vivid ways, that I could see and smell her creations while I was reading. Elin has created a floral cottage, equipped to offer classes and her one of a kind arrangements. Having Britta there to help is a joy to Elin, as they have a very special bond. Of course, every small community has it's big shot, and Portland is no different. Frank's overbearing presence doesn't go over well the local business owners and when he is found dead in Elin's floral cottage, no one seems too upset. Britta offers as much help as she can to local detective, who along with police officer Tomo, is trying to put this murder investigation to rest. All the characters in this story work as a unit, they all meld together and truly create a believable story. I had a wonderful time losing myself in this story and the author should be so proud of the story she told. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley. Natural Thorn Killer releases on March 27, 2018.