Dead Cereus
by Kira Seamon

"In the greenhouse, we don’t learn from our mistakes. We grow from them!"

Food, flowers, fun, and a chocolatey murder light up this cozy mystery/romance novel. "With her scholarship at Shellesby College hanging by the thinnest thread," sparky undergrad Holly Jackson must find a way to redeem herself in the eyes of Director and Professor Emeritus Ashton Berkeley. He also just happens to be Ivy Berkeley's father, Holly's gorgeous rival who seems to have everything Holly lacks—except Holly's loyal grad student boyfriend, William Smith. Will has eyes only for "Hurricane Holly," but that doesn't stop Ivy from batting her eyes at him any chance she gets.

Holly must secure Berkeley's favor to end her academic probation and compete with Ivy for a coveted internship with Professor Ogletree, a controversial chocolate industry magnate, by acing her assignment as organizer and emcee at the upcoming Night Lights Gala. The conclusion of the annual event is held in the prestigious college greenhouse complex as the rare night-blooming cereus cactus is scheduled to bloom. But when Holly engages in another wildly entertaining mishap involving Ivy and herbal teas while the body of Professor Ogletree is found outside after a scuffle, she's forced to befriend her rival and solve the murder or face the loss of her scholarship.

Seamon's writing is at its best when she delves into her atmospheric descriptions of flora and botanical plants and the luscious natural foods and drinks concocted from plant ingredients (recipes are included in the back). All of the plants are found within the varied landscapes of the college greenhouse complex. Interesting characterizations, humorous, multilayered plot twists, and an old-fashioned sweet romance make this book an appealing read for romance and mystery enthusiasts, who will undoubtedly want to see more work from this debut author.

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