by Nora Roberts

November 2004
ISBN: 0-515-13855-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Jove Books
Mass Market Paperback

With a hint of history, a touch of tragedy, Nora Roberts begins her new trilogy, In the Garden, with Blue Dahlia. Lushly interwoven with a landscape nursery, we meet three interesting and compelling women. Brought together by fate, they will bond and form the foundation of this series.

Stella Rothchild thought she had everything. The man she loved, two sons and a thriving career as a nursery manager. It was torn from her grasp in a heartbeat when her husband is killed in a plane crash. Now, she has transplanted her Michigan roots into the soil of her birth in Memphis. Being near her father and stepmother is the excuse she needed to start a new life with her boys. The opportunity to work with Rosalind Harper and Harper House is the real attraction. The challenge of managing an operation of this scope is daunting, but Stella is more than up to the task. She will have to be.

Landscape architect Logan Kitridge is a genius in the field and a disaster in the office. Peripherally organized on scraps of paper in his pockets, he is an anathema to the structure that Stella requires. They make each other crazy. The fact that Logan is having a hard time resisting the feisty redhead is even more perplexing. She is too tightly wound and controlling. Why does his brain take a left turn to the bedroom whenever she is nearby?

Ms. Roberts is well on the way to another winning trilogy. This one offers an intriguing and chilling mystery as the ghostly Harper Bride walks the halls, singing lullabies to Stella’s children. Stella, Roz and young Hayley form an unusual bond across the decades. The heat from Logan and Stella’s fiery relationship does not need explicit details to smoke the pages. A little imagination goes a long way with this reader.

You would expect that after so many wonderful books, Ms. Roberts would either run out of ideas or lose some of the creative spark. She has not yet succumb to either malady and readers can only rejoice in this. Her newest book is as fresh and crisp as a dollar bill straight from the mint. Her plotting is still taut and perfectly paced. The romance is paramount but the character development is not shortchanged in any way. We learn enough about the other characters to be drawn to their stories at a later date. Don’t worry, Nora never disappoints readers in that regard. Her characters are too demanding. She must tell their stories or listen to incessant whining from her creative muse.

My hesitation in giving this wonderful book a higher rating stems from my expectation that the series will only improve, not for any lack of quality. Now all we have to do is wait for Black Rose to bloom in>

Reviewed in October 2004 by Paula.

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