Three women learn that the heart of their historic home holds a mystery of years gone by, as #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts brings her In the Garden trilogy to a captivating conclusion.
A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis. And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night
Hayley Phillips came to Memphis hoping for a new start, for herself and her unborn child. She wasn’t looking for a handout from her distant cousin Roz, just a job at her thriving In the Garden nursery. What she found was a home surrounded by beauty and the best friends she’s ever hadincluding Roz’s son Harper. To Hayley’s chagrin, she has begun to dream about Harperas much more than a friend
If Hayley gives in to her desire, she’s afraid the foundation she’s built with Harper will come tumbling down. And that wouldn’t be the only consequence, since her dreams are tangled up with Roz and the nursery. Hayley will have to put the past behind her to know her own heart againand to decide whether she’s willing to risk it
Previously in the In the Garden trilogy
About the Author
Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels. She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. There are more than 400 million copies of her books in print.
Date of Birth:1950
Place of Birth:Silver Spring, Maryland
Read an Excerpt
By Nora Roberts
Chapter OneHarper House July 2005
Tired down through the marrow, Hayley yawned until her jaw cracked. Lily's head was heavy on her shoulder, but every time she stopped rocking, the baby would squirm and whimper, and those little fingers would clutch at the cotton tank Hayley was sleeping in.
Trying to sleep in, Hayley corrected and murmured hushing noises as she sent the rocker creaking again.
She knew it was somewhere in the vicinity of four in the morning, and she'd already been up twice before to rock and soothe her fretful daughter.
She'd tried at about the two a.m. mark to snuggle the baby into bed with her so they'd both get some sleep. But Lily would have nothing but the rocker.
So Hayley rocked and dozed, rocked and yawned, and wondered if she'd ever get eight straight again in this lifetime.
She didn't know how people did it. Especially single mothers. How did they cope? How did they stand up under all the demands on heart, mind, body-wallet?
How would she have managed it all if she'd been completely on her own with Lily? What kind of life would they have had if she had no one to help with the worry, the sheer drudgery, the fun and the foolishness? It was terrifying to think of it.
She'd been so ridiculously optimistic and confident, and stupid, she thought now.
Sailing along, she remembered, nearly six months pregnant, quitting her job, selling most of her things and packing up that rattletrap car to head out.
God, if she'd known then what she knew now, she'd never have done it.
So maybe it was good she hadn't known. Because she wasn't alone. Closing her eyes, she rested her cheek on Lily's soft, dark hair. She had friends-no, family-people who cared about her and Lily and were willing to help.
They didn't just have a roof over their heads, but the gorgeous roof of Harper House. She had Roz, distant cousin and then only through marriage, who'd offered her a home, a job, a chance. She had Stella, her best friend in the world to talk to, bitch to, learn from.
Both Roz and Stella had been single parents-and they'd coped, she reminded herself. They'd better than coped, and Stella had had two young boys to raise alone. Roz three.
And here she was wondering how she'd ever manage one, even with all the help only an offer away.
There was David, running the house, cooking the meals. And just being wonderfully David. What if she had to cook every night after work? What if she had to do all the shopping, the cleaning, the hauling, the everything in addition to holding up her end at her job and caring for a fourteen-month-old baby?
Thank God she didn't have to find out.
There was Logan, Stella's gorgeous new husband, who was willing to tinker around with her car when it acted up. And Stella's little guys, Gavin and Luke, who not only liked to play with Lily but were giving Hayley a hint of the sort of things she had coming in the next few years.
There was Mitch, so smart and sweet, who liked to scoop Lily up and cart her around on his shoulders while she laughed. He'd be officially here all the time now, she thought, once he and Roz got back from their honeymoon.
It had been so nice, so much fun, to watch both Stella and Roz fall in love. She'd felt a part of it all-the excitement, the changes, the expansion of her new family circle.
Of course, Roz's marriage meant Hayley'd have to stop dragging her feet on finding a place of her own. Newlyweds were entitled to privacy.
She wished there was a place close by. Even on the estate. Like the carriage house. Harper's house. She sighed a little as she rubbed a hand over Lily's back.
Harper Ashby. Rosalind Harper Ashby's firstborn, and one delicious piece of eye candy. Of course she didn't think about him that way. Much. He was a friend, a co-worker, and her baby girl's first crush. From all appearances, that love affair was mutual.
She yawned again, lulled like the baby by the rhythm of the rocking and the early-morning quiet.
Harper was, well, just flat-out amazing with Lily. Patient and funny, easy and loving. Secretly she thought of him as Lily's surrogate father-without the benefits of smoochies with Lily's mother.
Sometimes she played pretend-and what was the harm in that?-and the surrogate part of father didn't apply. The smoochies did. After all, what red-blooded American girl-currently very sex-deprived girl-wouldn't fantasize now and again about the tall, dark, and ridiculously handsome type, especially when he came with a killer grin, heart-melting brown eyes, and a pinchable butt?
Not that she'd ever pinched it. But in theory.
Plus he was completely smart. He knew everything there was to know about plants and flowers. She loved to watch him working in the grafting house at In the Garden. The way his hands held a knife or tied raffia.
He was teaching her, and she appreciated it. Appreciated it too much to indulge herself and take a nice hungry bite out of him.
But imagining doing it didn't hurt a thing.
She eased the rocker to a stop, held her breath and waited. Lily's back continued to rise and fall steadily under her hand.
She got up slowly, moving toward the crib with the stealth and purpose of a woman making a prison break. With her arms aching, her head fuzzy with fatigue, she leaned over the crib and gently, inch by inch laid Lily on the mattress.
Even as she draped the blanket over her, Lily began to stir. Her head popped up, and she began wailing.
"Oh, Lily, please, come on, baby." Hayley patted, rubbed, swaying on her feet. "Ssh now, come on. Give your mama a little break."
The patting seemed to work-as long as she kept her hand on Lily's back, the little head stayed down. So Hayley sank to the floor, stuck her arm through the crib slats. And patted. And patted.
And drifted off to sleep.
* * *
It was the singing that woke her. Her arm was asleep, and stayed that way when her eyes opened. The room was cold; the section of the floor where she sat beside the crib a square of ice. Her arm prickled from shoulder to fingertip as she shifted to keep a protective hand on Lily's back.
The figure in the gray dress sat in the rocker, softly singing the old-fashioned lullaby. Her eyes met Hayley's, but she continued to sing, continued to rock.
The jolt of shock cleared the fuzziness from Hayley's head, and had her heart taking one hard leap into her throat.
Just what did you say to a ghost you hadn't seen for several weeks? she wondered. Hey, how are you? Welcome home? Just what was the proper response, especially when the ghost in question was totally whacked?
Hayley's skin was slicked with cold when she pushed slowly to her feet so she could stand between the rocker and the crib. Just in case. Because it felt as if a few thousand needles were lodged in her arm, she cradled it against her body, rubbing it briskly.
Note all the details, she reminded herself. Mitch would want all the details.
She looked pretty calm for a psychotic ghost, Hayley decided. Calm and sad, the way she had the first time Hayley had seen her. But she'd also seen her with crazed, bulging eyes.
"Um. She had to get some shots today. Inoculations. She's always fussy the night after she gets them. But I think she's settled down now. In time to get up again in a couple of hours, so she'll probably be cranky for the babysitter until she gets her nap. But ... but she should sleep now, so you could go."
The figure faded away seconds before the singing.
* * *
David fixed her blueberry pancakes for breakfast. She'd told him not to cook for her or Lily while Roz and Mitch were gone, but he always did. Since he looked so cute fussing in the kitchen, she didn't try very hard to discourage him.
Besides, the pancakes were awesome.
"You've been looking a little peaky." David gave her cheek a pinch; then repeated the gesture on Lily to make her giggle.
"Haven't been sleeping much lately. Had a visitor last night."
She shook her head when his eyebrows rose, and his mouth curved into a leer. "Not a man-too sad for my bad luck. Amelia."
Amusement faded immediately, replaced by concern as he slid into the breakfast nook across from her. "Was there trouble? Are you all right?"
"She was just sitting in the rocker, singing. And when I told her Lily was fine, that she could go, she did. It was completely benign."
"Maybe she's settled down again. We can hope. Have you been worried about that?" He took a careful study of her face, noted the smudges under the soft blue eyes, the pallor beneath the carefully applied blush on her cheeks. "Is that why you haven't been sleeping?"
"Some, I guess. Things were pretty wild around here for a few months. Our gooses were constantly getting bumped. Now this lull. It's almost creepier."
"You've got Daddy David right down here." He reached over to pat her hand, his long, concert pianist's fingers giving it a little extra rub. "And Roz and Mitch will be back today. The house won't feel so big and empty."
She let out a long breath, relieved. "You felt that way, too. I didn't want to say, didn't want you to feel like you weren't enough company or something. 'Cause you are."
"You, too, my treasure. But we've gotten spoiled, haven't we? Had a houseful for a year around here." He glanced toward the empty seats at the table. "I miss those kids."
"Aw, you softie. We still see them, everybody, all the time, but it's weird, having everything so quiet."
As if she understood, Lily launched her sip-cup so that it slapped the center island and thudded on the floor.
"Atta girl," David told her.
"And you know what else?" Hayley rose to retrieve the cup. She was tall and lanky, and much to her disappointment, her breasts had reverted to their pre-pregnancy size. She thought of them as an A-minus cup. "I think I'm getting in some sort of mood. I don't mean rut, exactly, because I love working at the nursery, and I was just thinking last night-when Lily woke up for the millionth time-how lucky I am to be here, to be able to have all these people in our lives."
She spread her arms, let them fall. "But, I don't know, David, I feel sort of ... blah."
"Need shopping therapy."
She grinned and got a washcloth to wipe Lily's syrupy face. "It is the number-one cure for almost everything. But I think I want a change. Something bigger than new shoes."
Deliberately, he widened his eyes, let his jaw go slack. "There's something bigger?"
"I think I'm going to cut my hair. Do you think I should cut my hair?"
"Hmm." He cocked his head, studied her with his handsome blue eyes. "It's gorgeous hair, that glossy mahogany. But I absolutely loved it the way you wore it when you first moved here."
"All those different lengths. Tousled, casual, kicky. Sexy."
"Well ..." She ran her hand down it. She'd grown it out, nearly to her shoulders. An easy length to pull back for work or motherhood. And maybe that was just the problem. She'd started taking the easy way because she'd stopped finding the time or making the effort to worry about how she looked.
She wiped Lily off, freed her from the high chair so she could wander around the kitchen. "Maybe I will then. Maybe."
"And toss in the new shoes, sweetie. They never fail."
In high summer business slowed at the garden center. It never trickled down too far at In the Garden, but in July, the heady late winter through spring rush was long over. Wet heat smothered west Tennessee, and only the most avid of gardeners would suffer through it to pump new life into their beds.
Taking advantage of it, and her mood, Hayley wheedled a salon appointment, and an extra hour off from Stella.
When she drove back into work after her extended lunch break, it was with a new do, two new pair of shoes, and a much happier attitude.
Trust David, she decided.
She loved In the Garden. Most days, she didn't feel as if she was going to work at all. There couldn't be a better quality in a job than that, in her opinion.
She enjoyed just looking at the pretty white building that looked more like someone's well-tended home than a business, with the seasonal beds spreading out from its porch, and the pots full of colorful blooms by its door.
She liked the industry across the wide gravel lot-the stacks of peat and mulch, the pavers and landscape timbers. The greenhouses that were full of plants and promises, the storage buildings.
When it was busy with customers, winding along the paths, pulling wagons or flatbeds full of plants and pots-everyone full of news or plans-it was more like a small village than a retail space.
And she was a part of it all.
She stepped in, and did a turn for Ruby, the white-haired clerk who manned the counter.
"Don't you look sassy," Ruby commented.
"I feel sassy." She ran her fingers through her short shaggy hair, then let it fall again. "I haven't done anything new with my hair in a year. More. I almost forgot what it was like to sit in a beauty parlor and have somebody do me."
"Things do slide with a new baby. How's our best girl doing?"
"Fussy last night after her shots. But she bounced back this morning. My butt was dragging. Pumped now though." To prove it, she flexed her arms to show little bumps of biceps.
"Good thing. Stella wants everything watered, and I do mean everything. And we're waiting on a big delivery of new planters. They'll need to be stickered and shelved once they come in."
"I'm your girl."
She started outside in the thick, drowsy heat, soaking the bedding plants, the annuals and perennials who'd yet to find a home. They made her think of those awkward kids in school who never got picked for the team. As a result, she had a soft spot for them and wished she had a place where she could dig them into the soil, let them bloom, let them find their potential.
One day she would have a place. She'd plant gardens, take what she'd learned here and put it to use. Make something beautiful, something special. There would have to be lilies, naturally. Red lilies, like the ones Harper brought to her when she was in labor with Lily. A big, splashy pool of red lilies, bold and fragrant that would come back year after year and remind her how lucky she was.
Sweat trickled down the back of her neck, and water dampened her canvas skids. The gentle spray annoyed the gang of bees covering the sedum. So, come back when I'm finished, she thought as they flew off with an annoyed buzz. We're all after the same thing here.
She moved slowly, half dreaming, down the tables holding the picked-over stock.
And if one day she had a garden, and there was Lily playing on the grass. With a puppy, she decided. There should be a puppy, all fat and soft and frisky. If she was able to have all that, couldn't she add a man? Someone who loved her and Lily, someone funny and smart who made her heart beat just a little faster when he looked at her?
He could be handsome. What was the point of a fantasy if the guy wasn't great-looking? Tall, he would be tall, with good shoulders and long legs. Brown eyes, deep delicious brown, and lots of thick dark hair she could get her hands into. Good cheekbones, the kind you just wanted to nibble your way along until you got to that strong, sexy mouth. And then-
"Jesus, Hayley, you're drowning that coreopsis."
She jerked, whipping the sprayer, then on a little yip of distress whipped it back again. But not before the water hit Harper dead-on.
Gut shot, she thought, torn between embarrassment and inappropriate giggles. He looked down at his soaked shirt, his jeans with a kind of grim resignation.
"Got a license for that thing?"
"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry. But you shouldn't sneak up behind me that way."
"I didn't sneak anywhere. I walked."
His voice was aggravated, but so Memphian, she thought, where she knew hers hit twang when she was excited or upset. "Well, walk louder next time. I really am sorry though. I guess my mind was wandering."
"This kind of heat, it's easy for the mind to wander, then lie down to take a nap." He pulled the wet shirt away from his belly. His eyes crinkled at the corners when he narrowed them. "What did you do to your hair?"
"What?" Instinctively she reached up, pulled her fingers through it. "I had it cut. Don't you like it?"
"Yeah, sure. It's fine."
Her finger itched on the trigger of the sprayer. "Please, stop. That kind of flattery'll just go to my head."
He smiled at her. He had such a great smile-sort of slow, so that it shifted the angles of his face and lit up in those deep, dark brown eyes-she nearly forgave him.
"I'm heading home, for a bit anyway. Mama's back."
Excerpted from Red Lily by Nora Roberts Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The first book to this series was good. the second book was a slow start but the third was just amazing...couldnt put it down! I guess it was because i could relate better to Hayley and juat routing for the two of them to get together! Also you know theyre finishing up the research and are very close to figuring out what happened to Amelia...just amazing
I really enjoyed the backstory to this trilogy and enjoyed seeing how it played out in this last book of the In the Garden trilogy. Even though I am not a fan of gardening, I truly enjoyed this series, basically due to the strong men as well as the backstory. Great read.
I think this book is one of the best Nora Roberts has ever written. The Love seems very real, the other characters are very intereting and the whole works very well into a very good read.
I love this book so far its been so good i love harper and her i cant wait to see what happens!
Another great book by Nora Roberts. If you enjoy her books this book along with the other two keep you guessing!!
As a lover of all Nora Roberts books this is just another one I can honestly say I recommend. The series was a great read and only left me longing for more Nora Roberts.
excellent from start to finish. nora roberts brings all 3 books together and keeps you interested right to the end. i highly recommend the entire trilogy. this would make a great library/book club discussion
Definitely the best in the trilogy. I think all us gals need a Harper =)
This was my favorite of the trilogy. Nora Roberts never disappoints. This series I thought was a little slower than some of her others, but was still a good, easy read! And as always a good love story!
book 3 picked up where book 2 left off. I knew the love story of what was going to happen, and I could predict the ghost would be stronger, but even with the assumptions of what was to come in the story, the plot still surprised me in the end and left me a very satisfied reader.
I always hate when trilogies end, and the "In the Garden" trilogy (BLUE DAHLIA, BLACK ROSE, and now RED LILY) is no exception. You get to know the characters so completely, and feel such a connection with them, that they become almost real--and you just want to keep on reading about their lives!RED LILY is the story of Harper Ashby, oldest son of Rosalind (BLACK ROSE), and Hayley Phillips. Hayley had come to Harper House the previous year, pregnant and alone, to beseech Roz, a distant cousin through marriage, for a job. Unwed, with her baby's father out of the picture, Hayley wasn't looking for a handout, but for a chance to start over. What Roz offered her was so much more--a job, a place to stay at the renowned Harper House, and a family.Now she has her daughter Lily, a great job, and a roof over her head, but lately she's been thinking of Harper, the man whose been her friend through it all, in a brand-new light--that of a love interest. Afraid to ruin their friendship by telling him how she feels, she keeps quiet. Harper, on the other hand, has wanted Hayley in a more than friendly fashion ever since he laid eyes upon her--pregnant and all--more than a year ago. But he's sure that she doesn't think of him in the same way, and he's leary of messing up the friendship that means to much to him.As these two friends--both wanting to be so much more--fight their attraction to each other, the resident ghost of the house, the Harper Bride, kicks into high gear. She's always been loving and kind to the children in the house, singing them lullabies in the night, but she seems to hate men, and she's become especially violent now that Hayley is entertaining thoughts of romance.As the whole crew--Roz and her new husband Mitch, a geneologist trying his hardest to discover who the Harper Bride really is; Stella and Logan, both employees of Roz's In the Garden shop; and Hayley and Harper, who live on Harper/Ashby land--try to figure out the Bride's agenda, their lives are in danger, and their hearts and passions intertwine with that of the ghost's.I loved this entire trilogy, and read RED LILY in one day. It was a perfect conclusion to this powerful family saga, and I was especially happy to finally learn the answers to who the Harper Bride was, and what happened to her.I will admit that there was one surprise twist to the storyline that I didn't see coming, and wasn't really thrilled with, but since Ms. Roberts wrote it and I didn't, I can't complain! Overall, the story was still great, and in time I learned to live with what I thought was an unnecessary plot device.Pick up this trilogy today--you won't be disappointed!
Finally finished the last book in the trilogy. I enjoyed this one better than the second one but I don't really care for this author. In the final installment we find out more about Hayley and Harper (surprise, surprise) and Amelia's ghost is finally put to rest. Looking back over these three books, everything just tied together too nicely. Each woman was married after know their partner for less than two years and you are led to believe that they will live happily ever after. Just a little too Pollyanna for me.
Excellent ending to an excellent trilogy!
This is the final in the In the Garden trilogy and they finally find out about the Bride. I liked the characters and their relationships. It was a fun set of books to read and I now need to go back to the first.The ghost aspect is good and a bit scary, I love the strength of the women and the men who know when to back down and not try to control them. We may be smaller as a group, but we don't like to be pushed around by anyone.This is a cute sweet romantic tale.
The conclusion of the In the Garden trilogy finds single-mom Hayley struggling with her attraction for Harper. For his part, Harper is hesitant to pursue Hayley due to employee status. Things heat up, however, when the resident ghost takes a hand. Amelia is determined to have her baby and peace at last - and she's not beyond possessing Hayley to gain both. Can Hayley and Harper and the rest of the crew finally lay the disturbed spirit to rest? The weakest of the three installments, IMHO, but still an exciting conclusion.
Red Lily is the final book from the In The Garden Trilogy. I think this was the best book in the series. All the couples in the series had great chemistry, but none like Hayley and Harper. My favorite character in the whole series was Amelia (the ghost) and she really came through in this novel. I found the conclusion to be a little rushed, however I did enjoy the book overall. I do recommend this series.
Red Lily didn't catch my passion for reading Nora Roberts'books. Too slow in development and a sense of déjà vue for me.
This is the third book of the In the Garden Trilogy. This trilogy is about 3 women who meet during crossroads in their lives.With the undying support of her friends, Hayley and her new daughter have laid down roots in a new town. But when one of those friendships blossoms into something more, Hayley must choose between two different kinds of love...
Wow! Part 3 of the Gardening series is just as good as the first 2. The saga of the angry, crazy, sad family ghost continues. Now, we spend more time in the propagation facility and dip into hybridizing. Love strikes another couple. And, the entire ghost problem is resolved. A very satisfying story.
Hayley Phillips came to Harper House in Memphis looking for a new start, fell in love with the owner's son, got pregnant and engaged at the same time. The Spirit possessed her body in and out of time and made her feelings not be completely her own.
More about finding out what the ghost wants than about the romance, though the romance part was very sweet.
I truly enjoyed the first and third book of the series the best, the second book was good but started out slow. My biggest problem with this series and many others Nora Roberts has written, is that her endings seem very rushed. She spends all this time laying out amazing character story lines and then leaves so much unfinished business that has to be wrapped up within the last couple of chapters or all wrapped up in an epilogue. Especially with the third book of this series, it felt like Roberts was fed up with the book and wanted it to be done, so she had so much happen in such a short amount of time and then ended the story very abruptly. Again her characters are amazing and very relatable, and most of her writing ability leaves the reader on their seat waiting to know what happens next but she needs to work on being able to end a story not so abruptly.