I loved reading Elly in Love from page one! Actually I loved it before page one. The cover art itself is beautiful. This is such a sweet book. It is the first book by Colleen Oakes that I have read, and it was wonderful. It wasn't a typical romance and it felt genuine to me. The characters were charmingly flawed and lovely and I loved them all.
Elly in Love is the second book in the Elly in Bloom series. I wish I had read the first one, as it might have made things a little clearer, but it wasn't vital to enjoy this book. Elly Jordan is the (slightly overweight) owner of a lovely little flower shop in St. Louis. She has charm, she has wit, and she usually has some small stain on her rumpled clothes. She is dating Keith, the (also slightly overweight) owner of a local deli. Her life seems to be going along really well, maybe a little too well. She is being bugged by her teenage employee--aptly referred to only as "Snarky Teenager"--to open a new, higher-end shop downtown. Elly has been offered a spot on a top-rated reality TV series to design flowers for a celebrity wedding. Then a creepy man appears to be stalking her. On top of it all, she's pretty sure that Keith is hiding something from her. As everything comes to a head all at once, Elly must decide what is the most important thing to her. In the end she may lose her boyfriend, the only family she's every known and her business all in one fell swoop.
Elly Jordan may now be my favorite fictional character. She made me laugh and she made me cry. She made me cringe and she made me look in the mirror. I loved her character! I could relate to her in so many ways. She was so insecure--even when Keith told her how beautiful she was (once referring to her as a "curvy Grecian goddess) she never believed him. I almost have a crush on Keith myself. He was such a sweetheart to Elly, even when he disagreed with her decisions. Elly never thought she was good enough, or pretty enough and always compared herself to skinnier, prettier people. Even when she thought she looked good, someone inevitably put her down. I would have liked her to stand up for herself a little more, particularly with Snarky Teenager, but I also liked how she let her talent speak for itself. In the end Elly realized what was important to her, and didn't care what anyone else thought. She also learned a few important lessons about trust and forgiveness.
The descriptions from this book were beautiful! I loved picturing the beautiful scenery and bouquets that Elly designed. Somehow Ms. Oakes made me even able to smell the things she was talking about. I think I wrinkled my nose in disgust a few times during the Dennis scenes. The description of the wedding scenery was amazing. And I could only laugh at Elly in her designer dress and Crocs!
I cannot wait to read the third book Elly Inspired when it comes out, and I will also be going back to read the first book Elly in Bloom. This book was a little confusing to me since it didn't claim to be Christian fiction, but did have some Bible verses, a couple little prayers and a church service. However, there was some language that I did question. Overall though, this book was great and I will be adding it to my list of favorites!!