Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nora Roberts: In the Garden Trilogy

Here we have three women, each at a different stage in their lives, who come together in one place and through their affection for each other and the men they come to love, become as close as family.  While different in age, experience and social class, they are linked through something more.  They’ve each experienced personal loss.  They each have, or are having, children.  They are each alone and lonely.  And they each love to garden.
Stella Rothchild is in her mid-30’s, she’s a widow and has two young sons.  After losing her husband to a plane crash, Stella decides to move south to be closer to her father and step-mother.  She’s hired to manage In the Garden, the gardening center owned and run by Rosalind Harper.  Upon taking the job, Stella and her boys move in to Harper House, the antebellum mansion Roz, her housekeeper David, and her eldest son Harper call home.  In the house the Rothchild’s discover the family ghost who is referred to as “the Harper Bride,” and each have different experiences with her.  It isn’t until Stella and Logan Kitridge, In the Garden’s resident landscape designer, begin to date that things really begin to get interesting at Harper House.  The typically benign ghost suddenly become hostile and objects to Logan’s addition to the family.  Eventually Stella is able to connect with the ghost long enough to make her understand that Logan would never hurt the boys.
When 47-year-old Rosalind Harper decides to investigate who and what the Harper Bride really is, she calls upon Dr. Mitchell Carnegie for help.  And when she decides to call upon Mitch for more personal reasons, the Bride once more becomes hostile.  Roz and Mitch, as well as the rest of the residents of Harper House are determined to figure out the truth of the Bride, if only to remove the presence from the house.  Only once Roz is able to make the ghost realize that she’d never again bring someone into her home that would hurt her, the Bride again backs off after giving the members of the household a bit more information that will help them find her.
After arriving on the steps of Harper House 6-months pregnant and needing help, 24-year-old Hayley Phillips doesn’t think that she’s in any position to be lusting after Harper, Roz’s eldest son.  But she does.  And unbeknownst to her Harper has been lusting after her, since the first moment he met the pregnant woman.  Neither acts on their desires for over a year until Hayley just can’t handle not acting.  After a year of hiding their feelings for one another they come together in a burst of heat and passion that leaps from the page and into your heart.  The only problem: the Harper Bride has some serious issues with their young love and she’s growing in power and ability.  Undeterred the couple forges their own path and they find a love for each other that neither believed possible.  Through their love, their affection for their friends and their determination to rid themselves of the suddenly hostile ghost, they are able to discover the entire story of the Harper Bride and are able to put her to rest.
This trilogy gives something of a familiar message – family is the most important thing.  Whether it’s the family you’ve always known, the family you choose to create through love, or the family you are just discovering you’ve always had - it is always the most important thing. 
Blue Dahlia, 2004
Black Rose, 2005
Red Lily, 2005
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