cover image BLUE DAHLIA


Nora Roberts, . . Jove, $7.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-515-13855-9

Flower metaphors run amok in this first installment of Roberts's newest trilogy, which focuses on a quaint nursery called In the Garden and the haunted estate neighboring it. The book starts out at a plodding pace, with the sudden death of Stella Rothchild's beloved husband and her subsequent move, with her two young boys, from Michigan to the outskirts of Memphis. Fortunately, the pace picks up after Stella plants her roots at Harper estate and secures a job managing In the Garden, which is owned by Roz Harper, the same blunt, self-assured woman who presides over the estate. Though strictly regimented Stella forms a fast friendship with Roz, she clashes with Logan Kitridge, the nursery's sexy landscape designer. Logan is the antithesis of Stella—brash and impulsive, he thrives on chaos—but their enmity inevitably gives way to love. The scenes between them crackle with wit, charm and sexual tension, and are rivaled only by the warm relationships that develop among Stella, Roz and Hayley, a distant relative of Roz's who comes to the estate seeking a fresh start. Less effective is a subplot involving a ghost who doesn't seem to approve of Stella's relationship with Logan. This thread provides a few spooky moments, but it would have been more effective without the prologue's clichéd setup. While this book isn't vintage Roberts, it's a promising start to a new series. Agent, Amy Berkower. (Nov.)