elly in bloom Colleen Oakes’ Elly In Bloom will be one of your perfect summer beach reads.

From the synopsis: “Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, chubby 32-year old Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet little life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique wedding florist in St. Louis. It’s not bad for a woman who drove away from her entire life just two years ago when she found her husband entwined with a red-headed artist.

Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a terribly behaved sheepdog and a sarcastic assistant who she simply calls “Snarky Teenager”, but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly. Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for.

With the help of her friends, staff and the occasional well-made sandwich, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined.”

I liked Elly at the beginning of the book, but in the middle, I found myself getting rather frustrated with her. However, as is needed by most heroines in a novel,  Elly experiences an epiphany that changes her whole outlook on things.  One of my favorite characters ended up being “Snarky Teenager” who we never come to learn by name, but hopefully will in the sequel.

I liked that Elly wasn’t a stereotypical protagonist. She doesn’t fit the typical “beautiful” sort of character, which I think makes her more relatable to many readers.  Her lesson to learn is a tough one- most of us have found ourselves attracted to that guy we know isn’t right for us, but is the one we think we deserve.  Elly’s own growth in this area is nice to see and endears her even more to readers.

One thing I particularly liked about this book is that I liked Elly’s friends and neighbors and fellow business owners. I even briefly entertained the thought of starting my own small business if it meant I could garner that close neighborhood feel.

Perfectly entertaining, I think fans of chick lit will definitely enjoy Elly in Bloom,  and I’m looking quite forward to the sequel.