Nora Roberts has written several trilogies that I have enjoyed. Her latest one is the In the Garden trilogy. The books are about the Harper Bride, a ghost that haunts the Harper house and the three female friends that try to deal with the ghost and discover who she is. Black Rose is the second book in the trilogy and the newest one to be released. The first two books did have their own plots, but there were connected by an overall plot dealing with the ghost. I think the books would make more sense if they are read in order. Since this is the second book in a trilogy, some things I will be discussing could be spoilers for the first book. The third book, Red Lily, will be released in December of 2005.
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The first book, Blue Dahlia, introduced the characters and set up what was going on. Roz Harper owned Harper house and the In the Garden nursery. She started the business on the grounds of the house and made it successful. The house had been in Rozs family for years. Roz had grown up in the house, lived there with her first husband and raised her children there after he died. She saw the ghost when she was a child and when her own children were young. Harper Ashby, one of her sons, also worked at the nursery. He lived in the carriage house on the grounds. He spent most of his time doing grafts to create new versions of plants. David, a childhood friend of Rozs sons, ran the house. Roz decided she needed a manager for the nursery, so she hired Stella. She and her two sons moved into Harper house. Shortly after that, Hayley, a young pregnant woman, arrived. She had been a distant relative of Rozs first husband. Roz gave Hayley a place to live and a job in the nursery. The ghost showed up to sing to Stellas children. The ghost got upset when Stella decided to start a relationship with Logan, the landscaper that worked for Roz. The women decided they should try to identify the ghost. Roz decided to hire Dr. Mitchell Carnegie, a genealogist, to look into the Harper family history and possibly identify the ghost. The ghost did finally share her name, Amelia, late in the book.
Black Rose picked up in December, several months after the first book ended. Stella and Logan were planning a spring wedding. Hayley was still living at Harper house with her baby Lily. Hayley seemed to remain clueless about the feelings Harper had for her. Business was still busy at the nursery, and they were already planning for the spring. Mitch finished the book he had been working on and was ready to start the project for Roz. They were attracted to each other, but Roz was hesitant to get involved because of the disaster that was her second marriage. Roz was having to deal with her ex-husband since he moved back to Memphis and seemed determined to cause her trouble. Roz and Mitch started a relationship while working to figure out how Amelia was connected to the family. Amelia wasnt happy about Roz getting involved and showed her displeasure.
Black Rose focused on Roz more than the other characters, though Mitch was also important. Stella and Logan had been the main characters in the first book while Roz and Hayley were more in the background. For this book, Stella and Logan were more in the background and Roz and Mitch got more attention. The three women are the main character of the trilogy overall. The male characters get their turn to be more important as well, but they dont get as developed as the women. Things about Roz and Hayley were shared in the first book, creating a foundation for the characters. Roz became more fully explored in Black Rose. I expect the same thing to happen for Hayley in Red Lily. I liked that the main characters were back, though I would have liked for Stella and Logan to have been used more. For most of the book, it was like they werent even around. Rozs ex-husband was around for some scenes since he was trying to cause her trouble. He was a rather flat character, but that worked all right for him. Rozs two other sons were home for Christmas and in some entertaining scenes. It would have been nice if they were around more as well.
Most of what happened in Black Rose was connected to the search to discover how Amelia was connected to the Harper house and the Harper family. The ghost shared her name at the end of the first book, so they did have a little more to go on, but it didnt make the search simple. Mitch uncovered a lot of information about the family. I did think those things were interesting. Not too much of Mitchs work was described as he did it. That would have slowed the pace down. Instead, Mitch mostly shared what hed discovered later. The mystery of how Amelia was connected to the house and family was interesting for me. I enjoyed reading about that. The mystery wasnt as strong as those in some other books by Roberts, but I still enjoyed it. By the end of the book, some more questions about Amelia were answered, but other remain to be solved in the last book of the trilogy.
The members of the Harper family knew about the ghost and most of them saw her at some point when they were children. Roz also saw her when her children were young. People in the surrounding area had heard stories about the ghost, but very few people outside of the immediate family had even seen her. Stella, her children, Hayley, Logan, and Mitch did all end up seeing the ghost. Most of the time Amelia seemed to be looking over the children. She was very protective of any children that were in the house. Amelia was able to influence dreams in some way and she did that to try to keep Stella and then Roz from getting involved. Amelia did turn more violent when she felt that Stella was choosing Logan over her children. Amelia actually managed to attack Roz at one point in an attempt to keep her from continuing the relationship with Mich. Amelia believed that all men were liars and cheats and she did her best to convince Roz of that. I really enjoyed the supernatural element of the book. I would have enjoyed it if there had been more of that in the book. Nora Roberts has written other books dealing with supernatural elements. Anyone who doesnt like to read about ghosts may want to stay away from this book.
Since Roz owned a nursery and several of the other characters work there, the nursery did end up being important to the book. I love having flowers and buy more every year. I dont know everything about flowers, but I manage to have nice flowers. I thought it was interesting to read about the nursery, especially since Ive been adding to my flowers recently. Many types of flowers were mentioned, some I even have, and others I havent heard of. Roz did a lot of work with preparing plants to be sold and some of that was described. Before reading this book, I hadnt realized how busy a nursery would be in the winter months. These books are set in Tennessee, which is south of where I live. The characters were talking about having flowers blooming even in the winter, which doesnt happen here. Some people could find the descriptions of the nursery and the flowers boring, but I didnt. The book made me want to try to do more with the flower beds I have and maybe even attempt to put in other flower beds.
Nora Roberts writes a futuristic mystery series with the name J.D. Robb. The books in the In Death series have stronger mysteries in them and are more violent at times as well. The series features a group of characters that return for each book. Some of the characters are around more than others. I have read all of the books in the In Death series and really enjoyed them. I actually started with those books before moving on to other Nora Roberts books. The In Death series is a little different since it is set in the future, but it is very good. People that like books by Nora Roberts may also enjoy that series.
Black Rose was a very entertaining book that continued the In the Garden series that started with Blue Dahlia. People that read and enjoyed that book should also enjoy this one. Fans of Nora Roberts should like this book, though I do think the books should be read in order.
In the Garden Series
Blue Dahlia ~ Black Rose ~ Red Lily ~
Nora Roberts Book Reviews
Reflections ~ Dance of Dreams ~ Hidden Star ~ Captive Star ~ Secret Star ~ Night Shift ~ Night Shadow ~ Night Smoke ~ Night Shield ~ Cordina's Crown Jewel ~ Cordina's Royal Family ~ Once More With Feeling ~ Midnight Bayou ~ Three Fates ~ The Villa ~ Sweet Revenge ~ Genuine Lies ~ Chesapeake Blue ~ Birthright ~ Engaging the Enemy ~ Remember When ~ Northern Lights ~ Dance Upon the Air ~ Heaven & Earth ~ Face the Fire ~ Key of Light ~ Key of Knowledge ~ Key of Valor ~ Remember When ~
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