Daisies For Innocence is first in the Enchanted Garden Mystery series and features Elliana Allbright, aromatherapist extraordinaire and owner of Scents & Nonsense. A thirty-something recent divorcee, Ellie has lived in Poppyville, California her entire life.
In fact, her great, great grandfather was one of the founders of the town – along with Pauline “Poppy” Thierry, the local madam in 1849. Originally settled in order to cater to the miners headed into the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the California Gold Rush, modern-day Poppyville is a tourist town chock full of Old West flavor and offering nearby hot springs, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fly fishing.
Ellie lives with Dash, her Pembroke Welsh corgi, in a super-efficient Tiny House at the back of the Scents & Nonsense property. The shop is guarded day and night by a Russian blue shorthair named Nabokov who regularly attracts clusters of blue butterflies when he ventures out to sun himself in the garden. By the end of the book, Ellie’s growing menagerie is joined by a beta fish named Leonard.
The space between Ellie’s home and work is packed with garden beds connected by winding stone paths. There are seating areas and cozy alcoves interspersed with fairy houses, gnome doors and miniature tableaus tucked in surprising nooks and crannies. An etched boulder in the center of the space declares it The Enchanted Garden, and over time it has gained a reputation as a place for children to come explore the tiny “fairy” worlds while their parents have a cup of tea and nibble on the cookies Ellie’s best friend, Astrid Moneypenny, brings into the shop each morning.
However, the Enchanted Garden also provides the flowers and plants Ellie distills down into custom “perfumes” that do more than just smell good. She learned about plants and their essences from her gamma, who left behind a dog-eared but beautifully illustrated garden journal and an ancient, copper alembic. An alembic is a kind of still (think moonshine), but much smaller and used for distilling essential oils.
Her whole life, Ellie always had a fine-tuned sense of smell, which, combined with a natural ability to know how scents can help other people, uniquely qualifies her to create her special perfumes. When Astrid calls it a superpower, Ellie just laughs, but it turns out Astrid might be more right than Ellie realizes!
In Daisies For Innocence, Ellie’s part-time employee, Josie Overland, confesses that she has been dating Ellie’s ex-husband for a month or so. Ellie is surprised and worried at this news, as she doesn’t want Josie to get hurt the same way she did. But when she finds Josie dead on the boardwalk in front of Scents & Nonsense the next morning, she is unable to convince Detective Max Lang that she had no motive to kill Josie. After all, Max and Ellie’s ex, Harris, are best friends, and Harris has painted Ellie to be a jealous shrew.
Fortunately, Max’s partner, Detective Lupe Garcia is open to looking for other suspects. Unfortunately, Garcia’s new to town, and so it’s up to Ellie and Astrid to ferret out the real killer. Ellie also gets help from members of the Greenstockings, her women’s business group, and Ritter Nelson, an old high-school crush who is back in town visiting his sister.
And then there’s the mysterious plant that sprouted under the birdbath the same day Josie was killed – a plant that grows faster than anything Ellie has ever seen and that she can’t identify anywhere except in her gamma’s journal. As she looks into the life of a woman she thought she knew while hunting for her murderer, Ellie waits for the chance to distill the strange plant’s heady essence – and whatever memories it might bring – for herself.
The book includes a recipe for Astrid’s Chewy Double Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Cookies, aromatherapy tips, and essential oil blends for things like relaxations and concentration. There’s also the first chapter of Brownies and Broomsticks, the first of the NYT bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries that I write as Bailey Cates.
Next up? Spells and Scones, the sixth Magical Bakery mystery, will release in July, 2016, and I’m currently working on the second Enchanted Garden Mystery, Nightshade for Warning.
For more information about all my books, please visit www.baileycates.com.
Daisies For Innocence, An Enchanted Garden Mystery By Bailey Cattrell, January 5, 2016, $7.99. FIRST IN A NEW SERIES.