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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…
Character Guest Post
Greetings from Portland, Oregon most affectionately known as the Rose City. Portland earned its name for its abundance of blooms. Yes, it’s true that Portland sees more rain on average than most cities throughout the United States, but the result of slogging through gray, wet winters is spring. Oh, glorious spring. There’s no place on the planet as beautiful and lush with color than Portland in the springtime. I can say this without hesitation because I recently returned to the Rose City to help my aunt Elin run her European-inspired flower shop, Blooma. After many cold, harsh winters in the Midwest, I had forgotten how the sun hits the top of Portland’s towering evergreens, the first blush of budding pink roses, and the glistening snowpack shimmering from Mt. Hood.
I’d grown up in the Rose City and spent my early years watching Aunt Elin create magnificent centerpieces and romantic bridal bouquets at her shop in Riverplace Village on the banks of the Willamette River. Blooma was a magical place to spend my afternoons surrounded by buckets of variegated white and purple hydrangeas, bunches of fresh cut rosemary, and Aunt Elin’s many floral tools—pruning shears, floral tape, and shiny glass vases. Elin taught me to trust my instincts when it came to design. After I graduated from high school I did just that. I followed my dreams to the National Floral Institute where my creativity really began to blossom.
But then I fell in love. Big mistake. Instead of returning to Portland to work side by side with my aunt, I got married and followed my husband to the Midwest. He was writing the next great American novel and couldn’t hold down a job while working on his literary masterpiece, so I became the breadwinner. I worked at a lifeless wholesale flower distributor where I spent most of my days getting berated by angry brides whose wedding flowers didn’t arrive as promised. Slowly over time, I lost touch with the flowers. My creative energy disappeared and one day I woke up in a loveless marriage and a dead-end job.
Thankfully a vase of stale, store-bought roses (that didn’t even smell like roses) changed my fate for the better. I’ll spare you with the pathetic details for the moment, but let’s just say that I dumped the flowers in the trash and was on the next train for Portland. I’ve never once looked back.
My new life in Portland has been better than I could have imagined. I pinch myself each morning when I walk along the cobblestone streets of Riverplace Village and take in the scent of sweet cherry blossoms from the trees that line the sidewalk or pause to watch the colorful dragon boats zipping across the Willamette. One of the most surprising and rewarding things about immersing myself in the world of flowers again has been the spark of creativity. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as spending a day crafting a layered, textured, aromatic arrangement for a customer and watching their face light up with joy. Flowers are an expression of love and I’ve found that love here in the Rose City.
About the Author
Kate Dyer-Seeley aka Ellie Alexander writes multiple mystery series, all with a Pacific Northwest touch. She lives in the PNW with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—at all three.
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