“Planting a flower’s like opening a book, because either way you’re starting something. And your garden’s your library.”Nora Roberts, Blue Dahlia, p. 115
I think it’s time to circle back to one of my favorite authors, Nora Roberts. Yup, back to the mushy love stories. She weaves together the romance and suspense of a book together flawlessly. She has so many good books that she has released over the past decades and the In the Garden series is another great favorite of mine. It brings emotion, adventure, and ghosts! Who doesn’t love a good ghost story!?
The first book of the series, Blue Dahlia, is a fantastic start to the series. From the beginning, the book pulled emotion from me as it starts off with Stella Rothchild’s husband dying in a plane accident, leaving her a widow and her two sons to grow up without a father. I really liked how, instead of staying in a town that really didn’t feel like home to her anymore, she moves back to her roots, Tennessee. Making a new start for her and her sons, and making sure they have the best life possible. I can relate with her doing this as I did just the same last year. I moved to Texas with never being here before and started pretty much completely over with my life. Granted, I didn’t have two sons to worry about. I really like the strength that Stella brings to the story as she doesn’t fold under pressure, but climbs over it and conquers whatever she is having to face. At least most of the time.
The one thing, or person really, that Stella isn’t able to control is that of Logan Kitridge, the Landscape Designer for In the Garden. He is her complete opposite, and if you’ve read through some of my older posts, you find that this is my favorite kind of character mash-up as I believe them to be more fun, bringing more to the story. Logan is used to working on his own, doing things his own way. But so does Stella, making her and Logan constantly butting heads when it comes to the landscape design part of Roz’s business, In the Garden. This makes the story entertaining as their differences are easy to play off of unlike if you have two characters that have too much alike, which can very quickly become boring. The story doesn’t constantly have them butted against each other though either, which can get annoying if that was the case. They have some common ground and some of that is the attraction that they have for each other. I knew of course that they would eventually get together at some point in the story, I mean, it is a romance novel after all, but it still made me feel giddy when they actually came together.
However, the two of them are just a piece of the story. There is also the Harper Bride, the spirit of a woman who has haunted the halls of Harper House for as long as anyone could remember. I will not lie, the first time I read this book I did get a little frightened. I always tell myself that I shouldn’t read ghost stories while I’m alone and in the dark but that always seems to be the best time to do so. I suppose it’s not a good ghost story if you don’t get a little anxious while reading it (or hearing it for).
My favorite part of the entire book though is not Stella and Logan getting together, or even Logan asking Stella to marry him, but when the Harper Bride bars Stella and the others from the room the boys are sleeping in. The moment that Stella said aloud that she is going to marry Logan, the Harper Bride turns from a spirit quietly singing to sleeping children, to someone none of them had ever crossed before. It brings chills down my arms every time I read this part, reading about Stella fighting against the cold steel force the Bride releases, making it impossible for the others to get to the children. The children who stay sound asleep while chaos erupts around them. This particular part of the book shows the strength that Stella has inside of her. Not only physically, as it takes a great will to not break down and give up, but she fights with all of her might against the beast that keeps her from her children. With her hands raw and bleeding from hammering against the Bride’s force, she reasons with the Harper Bride. Stella makes her realize that she will do anything she possibly can to figure out what happened to her. To find out how she came to haunt the halls of Harper House. Saying anything she can think of to get the Bride to release the hold she has on the room and allow Stella to successfully get back to her children.
About Blue Dahlia
Stella Rothchild is recently widowed and, along with her two sons, they head back to her home state of Tennessee to start fresh. She comes to be the manager of Rosalind Harper’s nursery, In the Garden, and finds an extended family in that of expectant mother Hayley Phillips and the head of the house and business, Roz Harper. Stella is not one to shrink away from what needs to be done. She is an organized soul that tries her best to bring order to the business, however, she finds that a difficult task when it comes to dealing with Logan Kitridge.
He has been doing just fine with handling the landscape portion of the business by himself. He may not be the most organized person, definitely not like Stella Rothchild in the least, but Logan Kitridge knows what he wants and does as he sees fit in order to meet his customers’ requests. However, Stella has put a hitch in the process he believes has been running smoothly for quite some time. And he wants nothing to do with it, or with her for that matter. He is absolutely fine with continuing to handle things on his own. Or so he thinks. Even with the two of them butting heads constantly, he can’t stop himself from finding her interesting and attractive. And soon they both find themselves falling hard for one another. Something neither of them expected or wanted.
And as their feelings start to bloom, the spirit that haunts the halls of Harper House starts to show the side of herself that none of them have ever seen before. And she’s out to do anything she can to stop the love from blossoming between Stella and Logan.
A list of Nora Robert’s books can be found here – Book List – She even has a printable list that can be found here – Printable List – and a list of series/connected books can be found here – Series/Connected Book List