The Bluebonnet Betrayal is an utterly charming read. This was my first encounter with garden expert Pru Parke, but I gather there are previous books in this Potting Shed series. An advance proof of this book was provided to me through NetGalley, for an honest review.
Pru Parke is recruited by the vice president of the Austin [Texas] Rock Garden Society (ARGS) to “save their bacon” at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show by serving as temporary representative for ARGS until the president, Twyla Woodhouse, can arrive to assume responsibility for the group’s garden display. Charmed by Twyla’s plan to transplant a bit of Texas to England via the lovely Texas bluebonnet, and thrilled to be even a small part of the Chelsea show, Pru rearranges her schedule and starts on her way, scheduled to meet Twyla at the show.
Twyla is a central figure in this story, although she makes only a cameo–but key–appearance, entering at the end of Chapter 6 and continuing through Chapter 7, before her untimely demise. Marty Wingate uses strategies for Pru and the reader to keep Twyla in mind. Heading each chapter are excerpts from the ARGS bylaws and newsletters (mostly writings of Twyla). More unsettling for Pru, she keeps hearing Twyla’s voice at key points in the story. Thus Twyla’s presence pervades the story, fueling the efforts of Pru, her spouse, and garden companions to realize the garden project and to uncover the truth behind Twyla’s death.
If the loss of Twyla were not sufficient motivation for Pru to persevere, it soon appears as though the very presence of the beloved bluebonnets in the display is also threatened. Faced with this double loss, Pru redoubles her efforts and strengthens her resolve.
Pru is an appealing character. Her love for the beauty of the flowers is contagious. Pru’s heartwarming relationship with her devoted spouse Christopher (AKA Kit) and the interplay with the dramatis personae of the garden project keep us as focused as the dedicated Pru on completing both tasks. I found myself rooting for both Pru and the bluebonnets.