The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling author Nora Roberts explores the promise of second and third chances in Book Two of her In the Garden trilogy. This book belongs to Roz Harper, independent woman and owner of In the Garden, a nursery business in Tennessee. At age 45, Roz has mostly recovered from a short and disastrous second marriage, thanks to support from her sons and her surrogate family of friends and employees, all introduced in Blue Dahlia. Ready to start dating again, she embarks on a relationship with Mitch Carnagie, a man with his own set of issues in the past. He helps her view herself not as the victim of a failed marriage but as a black rose -- long, exotic, a little haughty, and most certainly, sexy. The progression of this older romance rings true, as do Roz's relationships with the younger women who work for her, and her son's first reaction to his mother's dating. The reappearances of the deceitful second husband and the Harper Bride, the ghost who haunts her historic home, adds to the plot, but the love story between Mitch and Roz is paramount. Readers who are gardeners will also enjoy the day-to-day detail of running a nursery. Ginger Curwen
Book two of Roberts's In the Garden trilogy (following Blue Dahlia) ably showcases the author's many strengths, from her creation of appealing characters to her melding of the eerily paranormal with the delightfully down-to-earth. Rosalind Harper is the owner of a historic Tennessee mansion and the force behind the thriving garden business on its grounds. Widowed young and then scarred by an unwise second marriage, Roz has sworn off dating, instead inviting a collection of family, friends and their children to share her home. Unfortunately, the house is also inhabited by a mysterious ghost, known as the Harper Bride. Roz hires genealogist Dr. Mitchell Carnagie to track the Bride's identity, but the unpredictable and passionate relationship that develops between the two sets off still more malignant displays from the ghost. Roberts postpones the ghost story's resolution for the trilogy's end, but brings Roz and Mitch to a satisfying commitment complete with realistic power struggles and peace treaties among their various children. Roz's inherited privilege is off-putting at times, and her calm in the face of ghostly attacks seems far-fetched. Yet she remains a warmly appealing heroine, resolutely finding her path through a midlife romance that is more complex and hard-fought than 20-something love. Agent, Amy Berkower. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In this sequel to Blue Dahlia, characters walk fully formed onto the page, and Roberts loses no time putting Roz Harper and professor Mitchell Carnegie together and at odds with each other. Roz is attracted to Mitch, but her miserable second marriage soured her on trusting men; Mitch, however, sees Roz for who she really is and knows that it's time to put his own past behind him. Unfortunately, their growing intimacy has the opposite effect on the ghostly Amelia, driving her to ever more violent acts. Even the nonbelievers are forced to acknowledge her existence when her anger takes a dangerous turn. Susie Breck's smooth Southern accent puts the right touch on Roz's steel-spined gentility, and her deft character studies compel you to keep listening. Unfortunately, we still must wait for the final installment in Roberts's "In the Garden" trilogy. Highly recommended.-Jodi L. Israel, MLS, Jamaica Plain, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“America’s favorite writer.”—The New Yorker
“America’s favorite writer.”—The New Yorker
Read an Excerpt
She considered him an interesting man and gave him top marks for not hightailing it after the experience they'd all shared the previous spring.
He had, in her opinion, the credentials she needed, along with the spine and the open mind. Best of all he'd yet to bore her in their discussions of family lineage and the steps necessary to identifying a dead woman.
Just now it looked as if he hadn't shaved in the past few days, so there was a dark stubble toughening his face. His bottle-green eyes appeared both tired and harassed. His hair badly needed a trim.
He was dressed much like the first time she'd met him, in old jeans and a faded sweatshirt. Unlike hers, his basket was empty.
"Help me," he said in the tone of a man dangling from a cliff by a sweaty grip on a shaky limb.
"Six-year old girl. Christmas. Desperation."
"Oh." Deciding she liked that warm bourbon voice, even with panic sharpening it, Roz pursed her lips. "What's the connection?"
"Niece. Sister's surprise late baby. She had the decency to have two boys before. I can handle boys."
"Well, is she a girly girl?"
He made a sound, as if the limb had started to crack.
"All right, all right." Roz waved a hand and, abandoning her own cart, turned down the aisle. "You could've saved yourself some stress by just asking her mother."
"My sister's pissed at me because I forgot her birthday last month."
"Look, I forgot everything last month, including my own name a couple of times. I told you I was finishing some revisions on the book. I was on deadline. For God's sake, she's forty-three. One. Or possibly two." Obviously at wit's end, he scrubbed his hands over his face. "Doesn't your breed stop having birthdays at forty?"
"We may stop counting, Dr. Carnagie, but that doesn't mean we don't expect an appropriate gift on the occasion."
"Loud and clear," he responded, watching her peruse the shelves. "And since you're back to calling me Dr. Carnagie, I'd hazard a guess you're on her side. I sent flowers," he added in an aggrieved tone that had her lips twitching. "Okay, late, but I sent them. Two dozen roses, but does she cut me a break?"
He jammed his hands into his back pockets and scowled at Malibu Barbie. "I couldn't get back to Charlotte for Thanksgiving. Does that make me a demon from hell?"
"It sounds like your sister loves you very much."
"She'll be planning my immediate demise if I don't get this gift today, and have it FedExed tomorrow."
She picked up a doll, set it down again. "Then I assume your niece's birthday is tomorrow, and you waited until the eleventh hour to rush out and find something for her."
He said nothing for a moment, then laid a hand on her shoulder so that she looked over, and up at him. "Rosalind, so you want me to die?"
"I'm afraid I wouldn't feel responsible. But we'll find something, then you can get it wrapped up and shoot it off."
"Wrapped. God almighty, it has to be wrapped?"
"Of course it has to be wrapped. And you have to buy a nice card, something pretty and age-appropriate. Hmm. I like this." She tapped a huge box.
"What is it?"
"It's a house building toy. See, it has all these modular pieces so you can design and redesign your own doll house, with furnishings. It comes with dolls, and a little dog. Fun, and educational. You hit on two levels."
"Great. Good. Wonderful. I owe you my life."
"Aren't you a little out of your milieu?" she asked when he took the box off the shelf. "You live right in the city. Plenty of shops right there."
"That's the problem. Too many of them. And the malls? They're like a labyrinth of retail hell. I have mall fear. So I thought, hey, Wal-Mart. At least everything's all under one roof. I can get the kid taken care of and get . . . what the hell was it? Laundry soap. Yeah, I need laundry soap and something else, that I wrote down . . ." He dug in his pocket, pulled out a PDA. "Here."
"Well, I'll let you get to it then. Don't forget the wrapping paper ribbon, a big bow, and a pretty card."
"Hold on, hold on." With the stylus he added the other items. "Bow. You can just buy them ready-made and slap it on right?"
"That will do, yes. Good luck."
"No. Wait, wait." He shoved the PDA back in his pocket, shifted the box. His green eyes seemed calmer now and focused on her. "I was going to get in touch with you anyway. Are you finished in here?"
"Good. Let me grab what I need, then I'll meet you at the checkout. I'll help you haul your load out to your car, then take you to lunch."
"It's nearly four. A little late for lunch."
"Oh. He looked absently at his watch to confirm the time. "I think time must warp in places like this so you could actually spend the rest of your natural life wandering aimlessly without realizing it. Anyway. A drink then. I'd really like to have a conversation about the project."
"All right. There's a little place called Rosa's right across the way. I'll meet you there in a half hour."