Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Art of Arranging Flowers, by Lynne Branard

Penguin Group NAL Signet Romance, ISBN 9780425272718, June 2014

Ruby Jewell endured a hard early life, sustained by the mutual love she and her younger sister, Daisy, enjoyed. Then Daisy died tragically young, when the sisters were in their early twenties, and in the two decades since, Ruby has kept her emotions locked up. She expresses them only through the flower arrangements she creates as proprietor of the Flower Shoppe, in Creekside, Washington. Ruby's life is safe, contained, and useful; with her flowers and her detailed client notes and tickler file, she promotes the happiness and well-being of others. Ruby has her friends, but her only real companion is her aging Lab, Clementine.

And then a young boy with a family life as troubled as her own was comes to the shop seeking an after school job. The town's most famous citizen, retired astronaut Dan Miller, needs a companion at short notice for a very fancy dinner. A new veterinarian moves into town, taking over the practice of the previous veterinarian.

This isn't an exciting book; it doesn't set out to be. It's a slow, gentle, feel-good story. All the significant characters are good, decent people, who have their foibles and weaknesses, but try to do the right thing and to be kind. Ruby and some of her friends and neighbors have some distinctly New Age-y beliefs which some readers will find off-putting or annoying. The promised romance is slow to put in an appearance.

All that said, I really enjoyed this book. Ruby and her friends are likable, enjoyable people, and it was good to spend some time with them. It's a sweet, gentle story, a wonderful comfort read, and on that basis I recommend it for those in the right mood for it.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.