Baking for Mercy

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Despite having a handsome fiancé, a sparkling engagement ring, and an upcoming dream wedding, life isn't quite coming up roses for Jillian Green this Valentine's Day. Instead, it's coming up calla lilies, purple ones to be exact, and an unusual bouquet delivered to Jillian at The Chocolate Shoppe Bakery has her wilting with anxiety.

Although friends and family thornily insist that the flowers are from Jillian's betrothed, Hunter Greyson, the unsettled bride-to-be suspects that the unwelcome arrangement was sent by her ex, David Drake. However, David was convicted of embezzling from his boss years ago, causing Jillian's own career to decompose in the process, and by her calculations he should still be rotting in prison. Why would he reach out now, when she's long since weeded him out of her life? Is he sending her an olive branch, or is he leading her up the garden path with more lies?

Soon, Jillian realizes that this bouquet delivery isn't just garden-variety romantic drama. Instead, it sets off a chain of peculiar events, and the trouble is poised to blossom out of control if Jillian doesn't nip it in the bud. That task is easier said than done, however, as a group of outsiders have come to Moss Hollow intent on enacting a grassroots movement against a new business in town, and someone from Jillian's past is at the center of the controversy.

Never one to be a shrinking violet, Jillian tries to root out the cause of all this conflict with her usual pluckiness. However, as she unearths one surprise after the next, the situation becomes more and more volatile. It might be best if Jillian leaves well enough alone, but if she doesn't, will someone she cares about be pushing up daisies?

The Characters

At 39, Jillian is living the life she always dreamed. Using her creative talents, she's built a successful career as one of the top executives at a prestigious advertising agency in California, and she's engaged to an amazing man who showers her with love and the finer things in life. Life couldn't be more perfect.

But as quickly as a chocolate souffle can flop, Jillian's "perfect" fiance is arrested for embezzlement, putting a quick end to the engagement, and the advertising agency coincidentally "downsizes" Jillian after the scandal, leaving her without a job. But Jillian is a strong Southern woman who has learned how to endure from her feisty and iron-willed grandmother. She decides to leave California and make a fresh start where her life began, in the quaint town of Moss Hollow, Ga.

Under Grandma Bertie's roof at Belle Haven mansion and under her wing, Jillian prepares to take over the family business: The Chocolate Shoppe Bakery & Cafe. But she doesn't expect to find murder on the menu! Will returning home to reconnect with her Southern roots ultimately prove to be a blessing or a fatal mistake?

Longtime member of the Sweetie Pies baking club and grandmother extraordinaire, Lenora has managed the bakery for decades and is considered a part of the family. Since fixing a salad is Jillian's greatest culinary accomplishment on most days, she encounters a few hurdles while learning how to create the decadent treats the bakery is known for. She's grateful for Lenora's wise counsel and encouragement!

The curious and cuddly house cat keeps a close eye on the happenings at Belle Haven mansion and lends a hand -- or paw -- in helping Jillian solve the intriguing mysteries of the small town.

Savannah is one of Jillian's oldest and best friends. She's delighted Jillian moved back to town and looks forward to reconnecting with her childhood companion. But she's also keeping a secret that may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Nadine's untimely demise.

Jillian's down-to-earth and lovable grandmother is ready to retire from the hectic demands of running The Chocolate Shoppe Bakery & Café, but she refuses to sell to a complete stranger. Jillian is her last hope for keeping the business in the family, even if Jillian can barely boil water. Bertie is determined to help Jillian succeed in the business and to see her marry a good Southern man before the bloom falls completely off the rose.

Cornelia may be Bertie's twin, but she is different from her sister in every way, from her flair for the dramatic to her eccentric nature. She moved back to Belle Haven mansion to live with Bertie five years ago after the death of her husband. She claims to possess a joie de vivre that simply cannot be tamed. Bertie prefers to call it "flighty." Despite her theatrics, Cornelia has a generous heart and wants nothing but the best for her grandniece. She will do anything to see Jillian happy and settled in Moss Hollow ... even if it means bending a few rules.