Nora Roberts’ “In the Garden” trilogy offers many of the staples of the traditional southern Gothic romance. Set in Memphis, Tennessee, Roberts’ three books focus on a historic mansion inhabited by a vengeful family ghost. In “Blue Dahlia” (2004), “Black Rose” (2005) and “Red Lily” (2005), three couples unite in an effort to find the identity of this ghost, known only as the Harper Bride.
Recent widow Stella Rothchild accepts a position managing In the Garden, a Memphis area plant nursery owned by Roz Harper. Stella and her two young boys also move into Harper House, where Roz lives with her own adult son.
For decades Harper House has also been the home of the Harper family ghost. This mysterious woman walks the halls of the mansion at night singing lullabies. Children are usually the only ones able to see her.
When Stella begins a romance with landscape designer Logan Kitridge, the Harper Bride becomes unexpectedly vengeful. To protect her boys, Stella begins to search for the Bride’s history. She has the help of both Roz and Hayley Phillips, Roz’s distant relative, in this endeavor.
The death of her first husband, combined with an acrimonious divorce from her second one, has led Roz Harper Ashby to cherish her independence. She begins to reevaluate that condition when noted genealogist Dr. Mitchell Carnegie enters her life.
Roz has hired Mitch to trace the identity of the increasingly violent Harper Bride. As the relationship between Roz and Mitch deepens, it is threatened not only by the family ghost but also by Roz’s angry ex-husband.
Hayley Phillips’ life has improved decidedly since her first arrival at Roz’s door, pregnant and in need of a job. Now she is the mother of Lily, an enchanting toddler; and the friendship Hayley formed with Roz’s son, Harper, has blossomed into romance.
The Harper Bride once again seeks to destroy their love. This time, however, the Bride’s vengeance is more insidious as the ghost takes possession of the young mother’s body. Roz, Stella and their new husbands strengthen their efforts to fight against the Harper Bride’s sudden viciousness.
Originally issued by Jove as a mass market paperback, Roberts’ “In the Garden” trilogy will be reprinted early in 2014. Putnam’s Berkley Trade division will put out a new edition during the first quarter of this year.