Black Rose, by Nora Roberts (In The Garden # 2)

>> Monday, June 27, 2005

Conquered by my weakness yet again! Back when I read Blue Dahlia, the first in Nora Roberts' new In The Garden trilogy, I made up my mind that I'd do my best not to read book # 2, Black Rose, until the third and last, Red Lily was out, so that I could read them together. It's always an added pleasure to read Roberts trilogies like that. Well, I tried and lasted almost a week. But it was calling my name so loudly that I couldn't help myself.

Number-one bestselling author Nora Roberts presents the second novel of her In the Garden trilogy (following Blue Dahlia), as three women must discover the secrets from the past contained within their historic home...

Three women meet at a crossroads in their lives,
each searching for new ways to grow-and find in each other
the courage to take chances and embrace the future.

Roz is a woman of independent means who thought love was behind her,
but when romance takes her by surprise;
she won't allow anything to keep her from her second chance at happiness.

A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis. And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night...

At forty-five, Rosalind Harper is a woman whose experiences have made her strong enough to bend without breaking-and weather any storm. A widow with three grown sons, she survived a disastrous second marriage, and built her In the Garden nursery from the ground up. Through the years, In the Garden has become more than just a thriving business-it is a symbol of hope and independence to Roz, and to the two women she shares it with. Newlywed Stella and new mother Hayley are the sisters of her heart, and together, the three of them are the future of In the Garden.

But now that future is under attack, and Roz knows they can't fight this battle alone. Hired to investigate Roz's Harper ancestors, Dr. Mitchell Carnagie finds himself just as intrigued with Roz herself. And as they begin to unravel the puzzle of the Harper Bride's identity, Roz is shocked to find herself falling for the fascinating genealogist. Now it is a desperate race to discover the truth before the unpredictable apparition lashes out at the one woman who can help her rest in peace...
This is a lovely book. A B+.

I loved that for once, I got to read about more mature characters, both in their late 40s. Romance novel protagonists tend to be pretty close to my age, so it's not a matter of me having liked this because I could identify with them better, or anything like that. I just like variety.

Roz and Mitch's is a relationship without great angst or conflicts, which is why it amazes me that Roberts was able to make it so interesting. They are attracted to each other from the first, flirt a bit, have a few dates, start sleeping together, decide they're in love and a bit later, that they should get married. No great snags, no big fights, just a natural, easy progression.

Roz would have had good reason for finding it difficult to trust, after her nightmare of a second marriage, but though it's not as easy for her as it might have been if she hadn't been hurt by Bryce, she didn't have great trouble realizing that she could trust Mitch and there really was no question of her letting bad past experiences influence their relationship.

And yet, without any conflict, I really enjoyed reading their romance and never got bored. I think it was a combination of the fact that there was a lot of stuff going on around them, livening things up, and that Roz and Mitch did have great chemistry and were interesting together anyway. Having said that, I never did get that extra zing, that knot in my stomach, while reading Black Rose, which is why this book didn't go into A territory.

Mitch was a yummy hero, a really nice, brainy and a bit nerdy guy, who was confident and mature enough that he could handle being equal partners with the very strong Roz. And speaking of Roz, wow! At one point, Stella says she wants to be like Roz when she grows up. You and me both, Stella!

Roz is truly a butt-kicking heroine, and the great thing is that while she can easily physically kick ass, she's just as good at manipulating situations so that people who are harassing her get what they deserve. There's this amazing scene at the country club where she basically destroys her ex husband which had me cheering. Up until then I'd half feared that she'd let him get away with too much.

I was remembering another Roberts book, Finding the Dream, in which the heroine had basically let her ex walk all over her. She didn't want to hurt their daughters by going after their daddy and having them realize he was pond scum, plus, she kind of saw the money he'd stolen from her as what she had to pay for having been so stupid about him. Well, in Roz's case, reason number 1 didn't apply, but I feared she'd go for number two (she was half-way there, not having gone after him for something he'd stolen from her before he left her), but she definitely didn't. She flattened him, and did it with great class.

And I absolutely adored that she didn't let her disgusting aunt (or cousin, or whatever) get away with her crap. She might have been in her 80s, but that's no excuse for being a horrid, judgmental bigot, and rude to boot, and Roz made her pay without a qualm.

I found all the stuff about Roz's business pretty fascinating, even though half the time I had no idea what she was talking about. Having lived in mostly plantless appartments in a big city all my life, most of the things about this part of the book were new to me. And also, of course, I never could identify any of the flowers, and had to keep running to the computer to either google for images or translate them to Spanish, as that's one aspect of my English vocabulary that's very poor.

In addition to all of this, the plot of the Harper Bride, the ghost of Harper House, continued to develop, and I thought it's going really well. The Harper Bride's not like any ghost I've seen in a romance novel. Those seem to be sappy cute most of the time, and just evil the rest of the time. The Harper Bride is neither. She's a sympathetic figure at times, but she's crazy, which makes her more than a little scary, as the things she does with good intentions tend not to be the best.

Add to this a wonderful supporting cast, secondary characters who are there for a reason and play important roles, rather than just popping up so that readers can see the protagonists of the first book again, or to tempt us to buy book 3, and you get a wonderful book. Now, of course, I'm berating myself for giving in to the temptation, because I just can't wait to read Red Lily!


Post a Comment

Blog template by

Back to TOP