Before becoming a best-selling author, Sheila Roberts tried her hand at a variety of careers, including playing piano in a country-rock band and delivering singing telegrams. Fortunately for readers, she eventually discovered that what she loves best is writing fiction—stories that make women laugh while inspiring them to improve their lives. Her novels often include tips for personal growth or recipes, delivering a little ‘something extra’ that enriches the book’s appeal. Her latest, Love in Bloom, offers practical gardening tips, very apropos given the book’s theme and title.

Love in Bloom brings readers back to small town Heart’s Lake, where florist Hope Walker has an affinity for flowers and an uncanny insight into her customers’ needs. Unfortunately, she’s also struggling to recover emotionally after surviving breast cancer. The medical issues are resolved, but Hope’s heart and self-esteem took a hit that left an emotional scar that refuses to heal.

When hunky carpenter Jason Wells strolls into Changing Seasons Floral and places an order, Hope’s heart goes zing. But her practical self argues that healthy, handsome Jason would never want—or love—a woman with physical scars. So when her cute, sassy sister Bobbi makes a play for Jason, Hope steps back and tries to convince herself to be happy for them. She even agrees to help her sister compose notes, plan dates and pretend to have half-ownership in Hope’s flower shop. Their conspiracy backfires, however, when Jason learns the woman he’s really been falling in love with is Hope, not her sister.

Meanwhile, 76-year-old Millie Baldwin is new to Heart Lake and struggling to cope with her not-long-divorced, bitter daughter and two teenage grandchildren. And the novel’s third woman of interest, Amber Howell, is also recently arrived in Heart Lake, having moved there with her young son, Seth, and her unemployed chef husband. Amber is trying to keep from resenting her husband’s gloomy attitude but it’s growing more difficult each day.

Hope, Millie and Amber bond when they find themselves sharing neighboring plots at the Heart Lake community garden. There’s just something about the warm sunshine, green plants in fertile soil, fresh air and sympathetic company that calms, soothes and provides a haven for these three women. Together, they find their way through trying days, supporting each other as they make difficult decisions, share laughter and resolve important life issues.

There’s a lot to like about Love in Bloom. Roberts brings a charming tone, wry wisdom, and many laugh-out-loud moments to her latest novel. Whether a new reader or longtime fan, fiction lovers everywhere will thoroughly enjoy their time spent visiting Heart Lake.

Lois Faye Dyer writes from Port Orchard, Washington.

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