Friday, November 5, 2010

Blue Dahlia

Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
Book One of the In The Garden trilogy

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…

Trying to escape the ghosts of the past, young widow Stella Rothchild, along with her two energetic little boys, has moved back to her routs in southern Tennessee—and into her new life at Harper House and the 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 wiht 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.
--Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts, Copyright ©2004 by Nora Roberts, published by Jove Books

My Review

I read this series when it first came out and enjoyed the ghost story thread that went through all three books. However, I can’t say the same for the romance story in this first book, Blue Dahlia. It’s the standard love story of a young widow with two small children moving to a new town. She finds a job that caters to her skills and she gets to spend more time with her father and stepmother, whose company she prefers far more than her own natural mother’s. She meets Logan, her boss’s landscaper and their styles immediately clash. He’s loose and laid back, she’s efficient and organized. Of course, for the sake of their mutual boss and friend, they find a way to get along. And of course, they take that “getting along” concept straight through to an engagement. Standard romance and I’m sorry to say, a trifle boring. Enjoyable, but not unique.

In this first book of the In the Garden trilogy, I feel as if it’s the story of the Harper Bride that kept me reading…okay, listening as I was listening to the audio version. The Harper Bride, as she’s always been known, has lived in Harper House since before Roz was born. Roz has always thought of the Bride as a benevolent spirit, paying occasional visits to her as she grew up and paying special attention to her three sons as they were born and as they grew. And she continues to behave that way when Stella moves in with her three boys. It’s only as Stella’s romance with Logan heats up that the Bride begins to act out, trying to keep the two separated.

Growing up, Roz never bothered to learn anything about her supposed ancestor’s ghost, but now she’s intrigued. Who exactly was the Harper Bride? How is she related? What does she have against Stella and Logan’s romance? And what tragedy occurred that resulted in her spirit being trapped in the house?

At the end of the story, the Bride leaves them with a tantalizing clue to her identity. Only her first name, Amelia, but it’s a start…to book two, Black Rose.

I give this story THREE STARS.

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