Blue Dahlia, by Nora Roberts (In The Garden # 1)

>> Monday, January 17, 2005

Given how much I enjoyed reading Nora Roberts' Key Trilogy all in a row, I was planning to do the same with her new In The Garden trilogy, even though the last book won't come out until November. Thing is, I'm weak. I just couldn't resist the temptation, and so I read Blue Dahlia.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes the first novel in the new In the Garden trilogy. Against the backdrop of a house steeped in history and a thriving new gardening business, three women unearth the memories of the past and uncover a dangerous secret-finding in each other the courage to take chances and embrace the future.

Stella has a passion for planning that keeps her from taking too many risks. But when she opens her heart to a new love, she discovers that she will fight to the death to protect what's hers.

Trying to escape the ghosts of the past, young widow Stella Rothchild, along with her two energetic little boys, has moved back to her roots in southern Tennessee-and into her new life at Harper House and In the Garden nursery. She isn't intimidated by the house-nor its mistress, local legend Roz Harper. Despite a reputation for being difficult, Roz has been nothing but kind to Stella, offering her a comfortable new place to live and a challenging new job as manager of the flourishing nursery. As Stella settles comfortably into her new life, she finds a nurturing friendship with Roz and with expectant mother Hayley. And she discovers a fierce attraction with ruggedly handsome landscaper Logan Kitridge

But someone isn't happy about the budding romance...the Harper Bride. As the women dig into the history of Harper House, they discover that grief and rage have kept the Bride's spirit alive long past her death. And now, she will do anything to destroy the passion that Logan and Stella share...
Now I'm really, really sorry I read this one. Not because it was a bad read, not at all! In fact, it was excellent, a B+ read. The only problem is that now I'm totally fired up to read the next two books, especially the third one, and I'll have to wait! Oh, if only I had gone with my intuition!

Like the Key trilogy, this one is more interconnected than her previous ones. There's the same feeling that what's being told is the stories of these three couples at the same time, each book focusing on one of them, but not really neglecting the others. It was a bit more so with the Key trilogy, yes, but it was the same feeling here that you have to read the three books to get the whole story. That usually pisses me off, but in this case, since I kind of already knew that and planned to get the entire trilogy anyway, I was fine with it.

Something else I found interesting was that though the romance was important here, it shared almost equal space with the relationship between Stella, Roz and Hayley. Again, not something that I usually welcome when reading a romance novel, but the thing is, I was equally interested in both, and in the ghost story. I think I'm pretty sure of what's up with the Harper ghost, but I'm looking forward to finding out for certain.

The story itself and the characters? Really nice. I enjoyed both Stella and Logan, and had fun watching them butt heads and manage to find a way to blend their differences. And Stella's boys were well written and realistic and I liked that Stella had really loved her first husband. Roz was also fascinating, and I'm looking forward to reading a romance starring a 45-year-old woman. I'm pretty sure she'll be paired up with Mitchell Carnegie, and that should have an interesting "scientist ghostbuster" vibe. I'm most interested in Hayley and Harper. Hayley might have been a bit bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for me, but the way Harper went all gooby for her was endearing. :-) And I want to know what she's going to do about the father of her baby, if she'll end up telling him about Lily or not... Oh, and was it just me, or will we be having a gay secondary romance in one of these books, á la Brockmann's Hot Target, or Dallas Schulze's The Substitute Wife? If I had to guess, I'd look at Dr. Carnegie's son Josh, for some reason, but I might be completely on the wrong track, I don't know....

All I know is I can't wait till June!!!

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