Desert Isle Keeper Review

Red Lily

Nora Roberts
December 2005, Contemporary Romance
Jove, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0515139408
Part of a series

Grade: A
Sensuality: Warm

This is the final installment in Roberts’ In the Garden trilogy. Although it’s not necessary to read the books in order, to understand the wallop she packs into this last book, it’s best to read at least one of the other books first. I’ve been eagerly awaiting Harper and Hayley’s story and I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

A short recap first. The series centers around Rosalind Harper Ashby's greenhouse business, which for her, is more than a business - it's her life. Two other women come into her life: Stella, a widow with two young boys who becomes her greenhouse manager; and Hayley, a young pregnant woman who becomes a valued employee. Since Rosalind’s sons are grown, and she has plenty of room in her large home, she opens it to the women and their children. Someone else lives in the house as well, the Harper Bride, a ghost. Each book develops the relationship between the women as they each find their own love.

Hayley Phillips has never forgotten the magnitude of the gift that Rosalind Harper gave her when she was desperate and pregnant. Rosalind’s offer of a home and a job changed her life forever. Even though Hayley is a “shirt-tail” relative, she knows that Rosalind’s kindness was very generous. Because of her gratitude, Hayley has put her attraction to Roz’s son Harper on the back burner, not to mention the fact she is a single mother of a one-year-old daughter, Lily (who feels much freer in her affections and loves Harper unabashedly).

Harper Ashby has also always felt attracted to Hayley, but uses his own mental labels to keep his hands off her, like “friend”, “fellow employee”, etc. However, as the mystery of the Harper ghost, Amelia, takes a rather frightening twist, his protective instincts regarding Hayley can no longer be hidden. When Hayley, after much discussion with her fellow employee and friend, Stella, decides to make the first move, Harper is delighted and he knows he wants Hayley in his life, always.

The Harper ghost has made an appearance in all three books of the trilogy, but in this book her actions are much different. As the mystery surrounding her life comes closer to a solution, she begins to target Hayley, and her methods are no longer friendly, to say the least.

I loved Harper and Hayley as a couple. Harper is the perfect hero - gorgeous, kind, loves kids and flowers, and is understanding but has a stubborn streak and his own ideas. Hayley is outspoken and fun, but a very caring person. Family is very important to her. She worries over betraying Roz’s friendship by falling in love with her son. She never hides that from Roz, though, and is upfront about her feelings when the situation between her and Harper changes into something more.

This last book ties the series up nicely and the other two couples - Stella and Logan from Blue Dahlia, and Roz and Mitch from Black Rose - add continuity and a sense of community as all their lives are intertwined. Like many of Roberts’ series, the women’s relationships are an integral part of the story. The same is true for this series, and it was a pleasure spending time with Stella, Roz and Hayley, all very strong, interesting women. This book ends the trilogy wonderfully...enjoy!

-- Liz Zink

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