Review: Blue Dahlia (In the Garden trilogy)

Rating: 5 / 5

If there's a word that gives me the heebie-jeebies it's 'gardening'. So, it's not that much of a surprise, knowing Ms. Roberts' penchant for research and delving into her subject matter that I stayed well away from her In the Garden trilogy. This weekend a whole lotta I-have-nothing-to-read saw me putting my hands on Book 1 in the trilogy, Blue Dahlia, and all I can think of right now is being at the library the first thing tomorrow so I can grab the next two books in the series.

Tragedy strikes Stella Rothchild when her husband's plane crashes leaving her a young widow with two little boys and depriving her of her best friend and ally. Wanting to get over the past and move closer to her father, she decides to move back to western Tennessee, to a new job as manager of the In the Garden nursery. Roz Harper, the demanding owner, loves her on the spot and has only one requirement - that Stella and her two kids move into her ancestral home, Harper House, so that Stella can be constantly available to deal with the day-to-day problems of the nursery.

Roz's open-hearted kindness towards Stella and her sons paves the way for the start of a promising friendship between the three women who live at Harper House, Stella, Roz and Roz's young relative, Hayley who is soon expecting a new baby. Stella loves being close to her family and soon her efficiency, planning and organisational skills start showing results in the nursery's day-to-day revenue. The only fly in the ointment is Logan Kittridge, Roz's brilliant and expensive landscape designer. And her sons' friendly acceptance of a golden-haired, sad-eyed woman who comes into their bedroom and sings lullabies to them as they sleep. Apparently, Harper House's resident ghost, the Harper Bride has decided to make friends with the boys too.

After Logan and Stella get their initial differences out of the way, realise they are intensely attracted to each other and start to think about actually having a relationship together, they seem to antagonise the ghost. Once friendly, they are now treated to blasts of her disapproval and when Logan almost gets knocked head-over-heels over a balustrade the friends decide that they have to find out who the Bride is and what makes her tick. And perform an exorcism of sorts. With Roz's son Harper helping, they rope in genealogist Dr. Mitchell Carnegie when it appears the Bride will do anything to keep Stella and Logan apart, to the extent of keeping her away from her kids, raising the hackles on Stella's maternal instincts .....

I cant get over how amazing this book is. A perfectly easy read, the relationships are what makes it click. Everyone here works and sounds exactly right. From Stella's father and step mother, to the 6 and 8 year old boys, to the live-in housekeeper, to the primary protagonists.

When Stella is first introduced, the author has her putting a plastic protector over the pages of her recipe book. As my own poor, splattered, recipe books will bear witness, I was thinking that Stella had to be this amazingly organised, super efficient, perfectly planned, crazy (in my book) woman. But, Roberts develops her character without making her irritating to the reader.

Stella has had a very stable, loving relationship with her first marriage. It takes her a couple of years to find her feet and I can imagine that she deals with having two absolutely mischievous little boys and holding a job by being as regimented as possible. Having a ditz for her mother is what probably gave her the start though. Stella's planned efficiency suffers a serious roadblock when she encounters chaotic, messy Logan and the sparks fly when they come together. I loved that Stella's first marriage was a very happy one and she was the one hesitant into going forward, of course she has to put the boys first, while Logan is sure of what he wants immediately. Such a pleasant divergence from my current reading list.

And, the men are all delicious as always. I have a crush on the name Logan (yes people do!) after Hugh Jackman made it his own, and what can I say, Roberts references it. With 2 little boys can comic books be far behind and once again I found myself marveling over Roberts' innate instinct for what works in her books.

For those still on the fence, yes, there's enough growing and planting and mulching to make this Papaya turn yellow, but the detail never takes away from the story and the story is where the heart is. Go read it. Right now.


Series Order
1. Blue Dahlia
2. Black Rose
3. Red Lily


avdi said...

Yes this I could read anytime ! Will look it up on my favorite book site. Lovely Papaya !

Bouncing-Bubble said...

I've reserved the book following ur order :D
lovelyrevu, and yea I agree th one cld have crush on names!

Smita said...

You know what???

Me & WIAN have been pondering voer Nora Roberts, wanted to pick but weren't sure...

Now am gonna pick her books...

As always lovely review and glad to know that even u go weak over male chars in books ;)

samir said...

This is why I wish there was checkbox somewhere I could tick as read. Do not really have much to contribute here, as not really a fan of romantic novels. Detailed well-written review as usual.

couchpapaya said...

avdi, bubbles - yay! hope u guys have fun reading it. let me know what u think!

smita - i think she's one of the best romance writers right now. my other post on nora roberts has a couple of reccos for her trilogies. if u want her single titles try norhtern lights, the three fates, the villa, carolina moon. she also writes a futuristic series as jd robb. as for the man-love, it's no secret :D and nora roberts writes the best heroes. the ones here are ok, but my love for her heroes is all saved for roarke of the robb series .... the others are all pale imitations of him :D

samir - good to see u and thanks for leaving a comment. so i guess outlander didnt convert u ? :D

Bouncing-Bubble said...

all i cld say after reading the book is , the review couldn't have been better. yes, i loved the bk and her style of writing. but I swiftly ran thru the pgs where gardening is detailed.

alas, I had to return the other 2 books as somebody's reserved it and I've crossed the no. of renewals.

Bouncing-Bubble said...

btw long time no see. busy?

couchpapaya said...

bubbles - oh great, glad u enjoyed it :D when nothing else is there i find myself picking up nora roberts, she's a guaranteed read. that being said dont read her back to back because her style of writing gets repetitive, so in a way it's good that u had to return them.

we moved so i havnt had internet for 2 weeks and it's driving me CRAZY. it's getting installed this weekend, 4 more days to go ARGHHH

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