Trying to escape the ghosts of the past, young widow Stella Rothchild, along with her two energetic little boys, has moved back to her roots in southern Tennessee - and into her new life at Harper House and In the Garden nursery. She isn't intimidated by the house - nor its mistress, local legend Roz Harper. Despite a reputation for being difficult, Roz has been nothing but kind to Stella, offering her a comfortable new place to live and a challenging new job as manager of the flourishing nursery.
As Stella settles comfortably into her new life, she finds a nurturing friendship with Roz and with expectant mother Hayley. And she discovers a fierce attraction with ruggedly handsome landscaper Logan Kitridge.
But someone isn't happy about the budding romance...the Harper Bride. As the women dig into the history of Harper House, they discover that grief and rage have kept the Bride's spirit alive long past her death. And now, she will do anything to destroy the passion that Logan and Stella share.
©2004 Nora Roberts; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio
"Roberts, the queen of romance, launches a new trilogy with a captivating tale in which her considerable talents at creating richly compelling characters and witty, spellbinding stories come into full bloom in a paranormal-tinged romance." (Booklist)
Never was drawn to Nora Roberts, but Blue Dahlia tugged at my passion for dahlias and not having ever seen a blue one. The extraordinary landscape designs, the luscious nursery set up, the amazing skills of the gardeners were far more erotic than her sex scenes! (which were pretty steamy.) Oh yeah, the plot was great, the characters, spanning 3 generations, are all folks you root for (pun intended) and there's even a very unpredictable ghost in the magnificent southern ancestral home. Though I'd had two other books lined up, when Blue Dahlia was done I immediately got the next in this series, The Black Rose, because, well, there was no choice. Irrevocably hooked was I.
As talented and sweet to the ears is narrator Susie Breck, the characters, especially the men, confused me at the start. Had to re-wind over and over (actually broke down and bought the paperback). So, here's a list of the characters, that I wish I'd had, to make the first scenes more enjoyable, as this is one delicious series of books:
Setting: In The Garden Nursery at Harper House near Memphis, Tennessee
All the women are gorgeous, the men good looking and the children way beyond average.
STELLA (35ish, widow with two young sons from Minnesota - token Yankee)
ROZ Harper (45ish, matriarch of Harper household, owner/head gardener of Nursery, widow having raised three (?) boys)
HAYLEY (25ish, pregnant with no husband and thus banished from her southern home where she was raised by her father. Distant cousin of Roz)
LOGAN (Late 30's? Landscape designer and gardener, long time employee of Roz, grew up in the area)
DAVID (Late 30's, best buddy of Logan and banished from his family cause he's gay. Manages the Harper House and In The Garden Nursery, family gourmet cook and sage adviser to all.
HARPER (guess he's Harper Harper, haha, she doesn't call him by any other name in the novels. late 20's? Son of Roz, grafter/cultivator extraordinaire)
If you get those folks straight, it's all smooth sailing from there. Excellent muli-dimensional plot and terrific bits about cultivation, grafting and garden design. (Course, it doesn't sound like Tennessee has gophers. Lucky them.)
This is obviously a fantastic place to start with Nora Roberts. Humorous, inspiring female characters, educational with an intriguing mystery—how pleasantly surprised I am to find how well Roberts crafts a story AND sows a seed!
Just love it. When I finished reading it I was so bummed there wasnt more but then I had this feeling it was part of a trilogy and it is! Cant wait to dig into Black Rose.
The story and narration were very good and I look forward to book 2 of the series. This was my first Nora Roberts and I think I'm going to continue listeing. It was a little slow to start but eventually captured my attention through the end.
Listening to the story let my imagination go wild. I loved the voices and the story line. I could just picture the heat between Logan and Stella. I just love Roz, Harper and Hailey. I listened to it again right after I finished the series.
The sex was beautiful not dirty, but very very hot!
I had never listened to her before, but I love her. I will be looking for others she does.
She thought her life was over, but it was just beginning, a new life, love and adventure.
I hope the rest of Nora Roberts books make you love the people like I did these people.
Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.
A very typical Nora Roberts, with a good friendship story, a new romance, a birth and a ghost. Stella is a newly widowed, mother of two boys who moves back to her hometown in Tennessee, looking for a fresh start and a safe new place for them to settle. She ends up at a garden nursery owned by Roz, a strong older woman who provides her with a satisfying job and a safe roof over their heads at Harper House.
It is well known that a harmless, female ghost who is very protective of children inhabits Harper House, they call her, The Harper Bride. Once Roz takes in another border, Hayley, a pregnant, single, young girl, the ghost begins to let herself be seen more frequently than ever before. The three women bond and develop a very close, supportive, family like, friendship,.....all is well at Harper House.
Eventually Stella starts to date Logan, a local man who has become entirely smitten with her and her boys. Logan starts to frequent Harper House more often and for reasons unknown the ghost becomes unsettled and shows a different side to herself. When he asks for Stella's hand in marriage and The Harper Bride learns that they may be leaving to live with him, she becomes very upset and may not be so harmless after all. The ending was quite abrupt. I'm not sure if I will get into the series but it was a nice cozy with good narration.
This is the first part of a novel that should have been one book and I feel cheated. It doesn't stand alone except in the most "generous" sense because the characters are all fairly flat and while one storyline for one character is resolved, the rest are left lying there like fish on the counter.
I eventually bought and finished the 2nd and 3rd installments and by the time I finished the last one I was genuinely annoyed. This is one book puffed and plumped and pumped up with unnecessary "stuff" until it can be called three books. By the third book, I had had all I could stand of long bits about flowers and the increasingly unbelievable ability and behavior of the "Harper Bride".
Roberts has written some really very nice novels but I don't recommend this one novel pretending to be three (the sequels are The Black Rose and The Red Lily. Ditto this review for those. By the end of the third book you'll be laughing with scorn at the increasing nonsense.)
No. The narrator was simply awful, with her totally inaccurate and annoying southern accents. Ugh!
As above, her accents are awful and quite distracting.
This was a slow go for me - I would say I was a good 50% thru the listen before it really captured me. The dynamics of the characters who lived in Harper house were really good. I especially like Stella and her unexpected beau. The ghost was interesting and without being a spoiler I will say I was disappointed and felt like I was left hanging with the ending. I guess I will have to continue to read the series.
Sidebar - I wish these talented writers would understand they can still have successful careers without using the unnecessary vulgar language. That is why I did not give it 5 stars.
This is the first of 3 in this series, and it sets the stage by character development and then creating interest in them. Narration was expressive and well done. The book went quickly, it was an easy and pleasant listen.
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