Review: Red Lily (In the Garden trilogy)

Rating: 3 / 5

Red Lily is the third part of the In the Garden trilogy. Read the reviews for the first and second parts.

It's almost 6 months after the events of Black Rose. Things have settled down enough at the In the Garden nursery for Roz and Mitch to get married too. Hayley Phillips, Roz's poor cousin, many times removed, is feeling irritable and anxious under the June Tennessee sun. And downright hot whenever she comes across Roz's son, Harper. After circling each other for 2 years, Hayley finally makes her move, to find that Harper has been interested all along.

And of course, as with the previous books, the elements of love and passion combine to bring out the ghost's insanity, this time centered on Hayley and Harper. But, the ghost has learned new tricks, she can now possess Hayley, and she soon finds that she likes inhabiting a body ... a lot!! Can the 6 friends work together fast enough, to find Amelia's grave and ensure she gets the burial she deserves, before she seriously injures Harper and Hayley. And, to do that they have to find out what exactly happened at Harper House, way back in 1892.

Meh. That's my feeling after reading this book. When a ghost is more interesting than the primary couple in the romance, that's what you can expect. Just ... meh.

I think my problem was that even after 2 books, Harper and Hayley just weren't all that interesting to me. Hayley is very young, a great character in the other books, energetic and fun, but here she quickly gets overly emotional. The type who if taken to a nice hotel, gabs about being Cinderella and how no one has ever done anything as nice for her before etc etc, entirely too talkative, even for a book. And who says woo-hoo and awesome a lot.

Harper, it's difficult to get a handle on him. He's a loner, preferring his garden to people, but then you have him involved with a steady stream of women and little bits of sophistication like him sipping wine (sexily) when on a date with Hayley thrown in and he seemed too much a mix of all other Roberts heroes - Roarke, Logan etc for me to understand him. Like any young couple, they spend the majority of the book having misunderstandings and fighting, and that part seemed real to me. The way they resolved the misunderstandings, hmmm not so much.

With the trilogies I read before, Roberts made sure to keep the most interesting couple last, I remember the tension between the vampire and the other-world Princess to be so great that I practically inhaled two books to get the third in the Circle trilogy. I understand why they were last here, after having a baby in the first book Hayley obviously needs time to be interested in a relationship. But, while they were good side characters, they don't work so well at center stage. Add in that the final scene with the ghost was pretty cliche, straight out of a lot of horror books/ movies and I was quite disappointed. I always expect more out of Nora.

But, if you take the overall story binding three books together, you realize what a master Roberts is with pacing. The ghost which seems benevolent in the first part, gets truly unhinged and malevolent in the next two and Roberts keeps feeding us information about her along with the main romances without missing a beat. And the thing that I love best about her books, the family aspect, towards the end you truly get how these people have all come together to be one big, extended family. Characters are so well-defined that scenes like Hayley talking about Harper to his mother, which would have seemed eeky, have exactly the right voice.

And you have to admire Roberts ability to tie together all the gardening analogies with the story and character arcs of women from different generations. And her knowledge on the subject, even if I got cross-eyed reading about all the fecund pistils and swollen stamens. Ok, I'll stop now.

So, overall as a trilogy, it's about average. Do yourself a favor and dont read the books back to back. Sometimes the sentence structure and language can seem very repetitive.


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


Smita said...

Woohoo! So you finish the series. Fantastic analysis girl. You know the only series of book i have read is shopaholic and am in between the ladies no 1 detective agency. Former is par excellence and later am yet to finish. Besides 'Ghost' by daniel steel i haven't actually read anything on this theme. But i don't want to buy also. Hmmm lemme see how i manage to read this. These days no book is able to grab my attention and am leaving trails of unread books. Btw latest Picoult book is out too, planning to grab a copy?

Bouncing-Bubble said...

not reading this as of now. All the three bks are with me right now :) currently reading desirable daughters in snail's pace (lol) waiting to read the series now.

couchpapaya said...

smita - u know me, if an author has a series chances of me checking it out are v.v. high ... i have problems letting go :D hope u manage to get the books ... as for picoult, am kinda burnt out on her writing. was at the bookstore yesterday and picked up one called plain truth, read the first page and put it back :( the latest release i really, really, REALLY wanna read is lover avenged ..... but ur not interested in that series :)

bubbles - oh cool, let's hear what u think when done!!

avdi said...

oops the garden series flopped out ! Me 2 have a load of books waiting to be read. Need time TIME.

couchpapaya said...

avdi - hehe if only we all inhabited the LOST universe. pls tell me u watch it!!

smita - hey, if u would rather not read the paranormal aspect, nora roberts has a new series, the first book released recently and from all the reviews is a winner - it's called vision in white! plus now that i remember there's another series 'born in' which doesnt have the paranormal aspect. i think the third book there was forgettable too, but the first 2 were fun.

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