Rooted in Malice

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With tourist traffic near zero, February is usually the quietest time of year in Turtle Cove, Washington, and Orcas Island florist Kaylee Bleu finds that off-season boredom isn't her cup of tea. On one of many visits to the bakery next door, however, she encounters two people who are anything but quiet: surly whale watch boat captain Roz Corzo and her boisterous friend Jeanette Colson. Despite warnings about high winds and choppy waves, Jeanette convinces Roz to take them out on her boat that night, proclaiming that the special herbal tea she's made will fortify them in the brutal weather.

When Roz wakes up on deck the next morning and discovers Jeanette has vanished, she lands in hot water as the main suspect in her friend's disappearance -- if not in the sheriff's eyes, then at least in the court of public opinion. Everyone seems to think she and Jeanette were imbibing out on the boat, but Roz spouts off to anyone who'll listen that all they were drinking was the "disgusting" tea Jeanette made for them.

At the sheriff's request, Kaylee examines the dregs of the tea and discovers valerian root, an herbal sedative present in a dangerously concentrated dose. Despite Roz's cantankerous disposition, Kaylee doesn't believe she tried to drug Jeanette ... which means that Jeanette was the one most likely to slip the herb into their tea. But why?

The deeper Kaylee digs into Jeanette's disappearance, the more she discovers how steeped in contradictions the missing woman was. Did she meet with an accident? Was she targeted by an enemy? Or was she brewing nefarious plans that Kaylee can't even begin to imagine?

The harder Kaylee strains to string together a plausible theory about the case, the closer she comes to a truth that just might be too hard for her to swallow. Can she distill the facts about Jeanette before her cup of trouble runneth over -- with fatal consequences?

The Characters

At 40, Kaylee's life is about to change in a really big way.

When her job at the university is suddenly eliminated, Kaylee is left feeling lost. Yet it couldn't have happened at a better time.

A fortuitous phone call sets an exciting new course for Kaylee. She packs up her life and moves to take ownership of her grandparents' grand Victorian mansion flower shop and charming Wildflower Cottage, both in Turtle Cove, Wash., on gorgeous Orcas Island.

Of course, Grandpa Ed has been gone for years and while Kaylee feels the pang of missing him, she eagerly accepts her beautiful new surroundings to begin a brand-new chapter in her life.

Then Kaylee discovers that not everything in Turtle Cove is coming up roses. Will the cryptic clues in her grandfather's journal lead her to the truth about what really happened to him years ago -- and straight into the path of a killer?

Mary works part-time at The Flower Patch and welcomes Kaylee to Turtle Cove with open arms. As a retired police dispatcher, she has contacts with the local authorities -- connections that come in handy when she's helping Kaylee solve mysteries!

Jessica is the spunky owner of the Death by Chocolate bakery and coffee shop and Kaylee's best friend. She's energetic, funny and can't resist a good mystery. A petite woman with a big smile, she always has a handle on the local scoop, as well as a good conspiracy theory to share.

When Kaylee adopted Bear from a local shelter, it was love at first sight. Cute, curious and well-mannered, this lovable dachshund is Kaylee's constant companion, escorting her to the flower shop every day. His inquisitive nature might just land him in the middle of a mystery or two.