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VINE VOICEon February 16, 2008
Roz Harper is a loving and kind, but fiercely protective of those she loves. When the Harper House resident ghost known as the Harper Bride starts terrorizing those she loves, Roz decides it is time for some answers. The Harper Bride who has never brought harm to anyone in the house before is now pulling all the stops out.

Dr Mitchell Carnagie is hired to delve into history to discover what happened in the past. When he sees first hand the terror at the house, he decides immediately to learn more. As he spends more time at Harper House, Mitchell finds himself drawn to Roz. He finds her strength, beauty, and vulnerability to be a potent combination he can't resist. When Mitch and Roz decide to explore their special connection, again the ghost vehemently protests.

As more is revealed about the Harper Bride, it is disclosed her name is Amelia. Mitch learns more about Amelia through old books and photographs. The more they all learn, the more disturbing the story becomes.

Great second book of the series. I didn't think it was possible, but this book surpassed the first.
0Comment27 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Do you think it's true that every house has a secret? If the walls could talk would you want to hear what they had to say? The Harper House in this story could certainly tell you a few things.

We meet Roz, descendent of the owners of the Harper House, where she now resides. Recently divorced, she is a likable perky, wealthy woman in mid-life, searching to find answers to some hidden happenings in her home. It seems Harper House has had a ghostly residence for years; a young woman who sings to the newborn and has stayed in the shadows until recently. Her gentle presence, which was tolerated through the years, is now turning into rage and violence; nearly taking the life of Roz and endangering her entire household. Who is this woman and why will she not leave the house? Why has she turned from gentle to savage and how is she connected to the family? Chilling questions for sure; and you will devour the book to find out the answers.

The author does a wonderful job in story and character development in this novel. She allows you to know the main players, draws you into their personal lives and emotions

and uses this as building blocks to the danger and mystery that surrounds them.

Ms. Roberts adds some romance and humor which makes the work a comfortable read without losing it's mysterious element. I found this book to be outstanding. a real page turner and one that I can highly recommend
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on April 27, 2006
Black Rose, the second in the In the Garden series, focuses on Rosalind (Roz) Harper; head of Harper House; owner of the In The Garden nursery; mother to luscious Harper (as well as Austin and Mason); close friend of Stella Rothchild; distant cousin by marriage (on her late husband's side) and friend to Hayley Phillips; hot babe; temperamental; difficult. I could go on, but you probably get the picture. Roz is a powerful woman who works at maintaining control of her life. This can be difficult when ex-husband (#2...a mistake), Bryce Clerk, makes a serious effort to make her life miserable.

When the situation with the Harper Bride (the ghost) turns very dangerous in Blue Dahlia, Roz decides to hire a professional to find out what's up with the ghost (whose name we learn is Amelia). Enter genealogist, Dr. Mitchell Carnegie, in Black Rose. Mitch's arrival on the scene adds new energy to Roz's life (though she seems to have plenty of that already), some anxiety, and a growing passion for the handsome (of course), brilliant, kindly man who has come into her life.

At the same time, Hayley Phillips, who came to Roz about six months pregnant in Blue Dahlia, gives birth to baby Lily, named after the red lilies Harper Ashby (Roz's eldest son) brings to the birthing room just before Lily arrives. There's an underlying sexual tension growing between these two as the story develops and, by the end of Black Rose, the stage is set for Red Lily, Hayley's story.

Meanwhile, the ghost continues to act up as Roz and Mitch's relationship heats up. Mitch spends more and more time at Harper House studying journals, photos, and other Harper family records and documents, which upsets Amelia. She has a healthy hatred for men. "They lie. They all lie" (she mind talks to the women). She continues to sing to the young children, whom she obviously adores. As Mitch's research continues, a picture of a woman, perhaps a mistress who gave birth to a child by a Harper ancestor and is then cast aside, begins to emerge. But just what is her problem? Why is her spirit still earthbound? The answer will come, hopefully, in Red Lily.

Carolyn Rowe Hill
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on June 6, 2005
BLACK ROSE, the second installment in the GARDEN trilogy, is a big improvement over the premier of the series (BLUE DAHLIA), includes snappy dialogue, interesting characters, a satisfying romance and very few thorns to mar the reading experience. While I recommend the book, particularly to those who were disappointed in BLUE DAHLIA, at times there seemed to be too many characters cluttering up each scene, scenes including the main couple were not as plentiful as hoped, and the hero's unrealized desire to rescue the heroine was a little disappointing.

BLACK ROSE continues the story of three women drawn to Rosalind Harper's historic southern home to run a nursery/landscaping business and solve a ghost story. ROSE is Roz's story, and follows the forty-something owner while she struggles to build her business, overcome a bitter second marriage to a philandering con man, and track down the truth about the resident ghost with the help of visiting genealogist, Mitchell Carnegie.

The most appealing feature of this book was Roz's character. All too often it seems that authors leave romance to the twenty and thirty-somethings, and when they do try to write more mature heroines, they often read like a twenty-two year old with too much mileage and not enough wisdom. In ROSE, it was clear from the beginning that Roz was strong, independent and, despite the blow to her self respect dealt by her last husband, had the confidence to claw her own way out of her problems. Love-interest Mitchell was not as clearly drawn, but was appealing both because of his willingness to take responsibility for mistakes in his first marriage, and in the way he obviously respected as well as loved Roz.

Unfortunately, Mitch's protective instincts found very little outlet in this book, despite the plethora of opportunities presented by the return of Roz's ex-husband and a ghost with increasingly physical ways of expressing her displeasure. Roz's grown son, Harper, was too eager to intervene when danger or insult threatened, and Roz did her fair share of rescuing herself in most cases. While I always find it appealing when heroines work their own way out of trouble-especially considering the number of helpless-damsel characters in romance-it can be overdone and probably was just a bit in this book. I would have been a little more impressed with Mitch if he had managed a heroic intervention or two.

My only other criticism is that Roberts tried to include too many people in this book: Stella and Logan, their children, Roz and Mitch, Roz's four kids (including Harper), Mitch's son, Hayley, Hayley's daughter, Roz's ex, Roz's ex's new girlfriend, and a number of Roz's acquaintances in the Ladies-Who-Lunch set, among others. The net result was that there were actually very few scenes where Roz and Mitch had an opportunity to interact, and keeping track of the trials and tribulations of all the different characters was distracting and took some of the edge off both the suspense and the romance.

ROSE was a good read overall, and I look forward to the last installment in the trilogy.
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on April 24, 2006
I agree with the reviewers who disliked the character of Roz. If I had to listen to her boast about her "handsome, strapping sons" one more time...!

I usually enjoy Nora Roberts books- they are light but engrossing stories. And I liked Blue Dahlia, but I had to force myself to finish Black Rose.

My biggest gripe is about the way almost every male character (Mitch, Harper, David, Josh, Mason, Austin, & Logan) were characterized as demi-gods and noble protectors of all women and children. And yet, aside from the 3 main female characters-- made up of Roz (head-strong & arrogant), Stella (uptight & intense), and Hayley (young & emotional)-- almost every other minor female character was portrayed as catty, petty, and shallow. Even in regard to her close friends, Roz claims with exasperation that women are so much more complicated, and thank goodness she had sons!

If I didn't know better, I'd think Nora Roberts has forgotten that her audience is virtually all-female. How could any mother/sister/daughter/girlfriend not feel mildly offended by this book? Not every woman is overly emotional and needy.

However, I rated it a 1 because the Harper Bride storyline was still intriguing enough to get me through the rest of the girl-bashing.
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on January 2, 2006
The "In the Garden" gang is back, with this novel focusing on the romance between Rosalind (Roz) Harper and Mitch Carnegie.

Roz has hired Mitch to research her family history in order to learn the identity of the resident ghost. Widowed at a young age and divorced from a gold digger in middle age, Roz has learned to stand on her own and not to anticipate another relationship. Her otherworldly houseguest couldn't agree more.

However, things get steamy as Roz and Mitch develop a genuine attraction. A recovering alcoholic, Mitch has made amends for the mistakes he made as a young man and is ready to move forward with Roz-much to the Harper ghost's distress.

Besides the ghost's histrionics and financial attacks by Roz's ex, there's a garden center to be run, and Roz doesn't allow anyone to stand in the way. She is a strong, even bull-headed, character who knows what she's about.

The characters that make up the "In the Garden" trilogy are strong and memorable. Roberts continues to fill out the story in the second installment. While people with black thumbs may not appreciate some of the gardening lingo, I find it to be a great metaphor for the process of growth the people in this story go through.

I give this book five stars for character strength, easy readability, and a fun plot. "Black Rose" is a worthy successor to "Blue Dahlia," perhaps even better.

-C.W.
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on January 29, 2006
I liked this book better than the previous one in the series, Blue Dahlia. I think it's mostly because the hero and heroine got more stage time than the hero and heroine in the first book did. I was glad that Roz got her share of the spotlight.

Another reason I liked this one better was because of the villains. Blue Dahlia didn't have much in the way of villains-- mostly just the promise of evil to come. In this book, the connecting evil in all three books (a ghost) gets way, way scarier. I read the scary bathtub scene while I was in the bathtub, and it wasn't such a good idea, but it was deliciously scary! It was on par with the bathtub scene in Fatal Attraction. Yes, that good. Also, the ex-husband villain was one I just loved to hate, and the less-than-tied-up ghost evil was ok to leave that way, since the ex-husband evil was suitably taken care of (i.e. beaten to a bloody pulp by characters you love to cheer for) at the end.

Overall, Roz as a character was entertaining, deep, and different from most romantic heroines. She was refreshing, if not quite as lovable as some of Nora's other "strong woman" characters (most notably, the pure bitch character Ripley from the Three Sisters Island trilogy or feisty Brenna from the Irish trilogy). Following Nora's general pattern of starting with the nice girl character, moving on to the lovably bitchy one, and finishing with the mentor/free spirit type, I was expecting Roz to kick some butt, and wasn't disappointed.

I'm excited to read the conclusion to the series, Red Lily, and find out how Nora treats a young (24 year-old) mother. (Dear god, please don't have her use the word "awesome" more than is strictly necessary. Apparently, Nora assumes all twenty-somethings use "awesome" as a regular part of conversation. Those of you who know me-- a typical 20-something-- do I say awesome too much? If so, just smack me and tell me to stop it, because it's really freaking annoying.)
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on November 6, 2005
First, let me say I've been a fan of Nora Roberts for years.

The first book in this series, "Blue Dahlia", was an entertaining read and I loved the paranormal aspect.

However, this second of the trilogy had me a bit confused. There's so many characters...living and dead...that I finally had to make an organizational chart of the generations!

I've read every one of Roberts' trilogies. In the others, each book pretty much stands alone. "Black Rose" keeps referring to events from "Blue Dahlia", which I read over a year ago, without giving the details of those events. Since I'd passed the book along, I couldn't look back to find out just what had happened with the Harper Bride, Stella and Roz in the first installment. I found this to be a bit frustrating.

The scenes between Roz and her ex were wonderful and it was nice to read about a 40 something woman and a new romance...by the name of Mitchell!

If I didn't expect more from Roberts, I probably would have rated this book higher. But, based on what I know she can write...I'm giving "Black Rose" four stars.
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on June 29, 2005
In Memphis, forty-five year old Rosalind "Roz" Harper for the most part feels good about life mostly because of the young that has brought her family home Harper House back to life. Her "son" David takes good care of the estate. Her In the Garden's nursery manager Stella Rothchild does likewise although the mother of two young sons will probably leave once she weds her beloved Logan. Finally her beloved employee Hayley Philips has a delightful newborn who makes Roz feel like an indulgent grandmother.

The two flaws in Roz optimistic outlook are the return of her sponge of an ex husband Bryce Clerk doing what he does best trying to live off someone else with Roz his target and the mystery of the Harper Bride ghost. The former is a question of ignoring him though Bryce keeps pushing; the latter is to much a presence to pretend she is not there so Roz hires genealogist Dr. Mitch Carnegie to look into her past. Mitch quickly becomes a ghost believer even as he falls in love with his reluctant client, who ponders a second chance after the failure of her first attempt at marriage.

This paranormal family drama is a Nora that can stand alone but reading the previous novel, BLUE DAHLIA, enhances the experience as the audience will have a taste how far the Harper "extended" family including ghosts has come. The ensemble cast seems genuine and clues to the mystery of the ghost augment the novel. Nora Roberts is at her best with the first two novels of the Garden trilogy leaving readers to anticipate quite a finish to the miniseries.

Harriet Klausner
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on February 20, 2006
I don't know what it is about Roberts' novels that I don't like, and this has become a recent phenomena since I loved her earlier works, or maybe I do know and keep buying her books anyway so that she can change my mind and prove me wrong; but other than the Quinn brothers novels-an awesome series that should not be missed, I have resigned myself to the fact that I don't like Nora Roberts' new novels and I never will.

Roberts writing style and story telling are still fantastic and they are the only reasons I was able to tolerate this second installment in In the Garden Trilogy-not to mention the first one, which I struggled to even be interested in.

Although Black Rose had a story that was more interesting than the first one and had a smoother more coherent plot-line with a lot less clatter, it lacked the depth of romance the first one possessed, which was hardly all that much either. There was hardly any tension or buildup to Roz and Mitch's love affair, I frankly did not care weather they ended up together or not, and I was more interested about the family ghost that lurks in Roz's mansion and their uncovering of her identity in order to find out the reason she keeps haunting Roz's house and land; even her ex-husband's dramas and constant harassments were more entertaining than her affair with Mitch.

Which comes to my next point: Roberts does not write romances anymore and she should stop selling her novels as such. They are works of fiction with a hint of romance dashed in to keep the fans happy. What Roberts does best is spin a good story that touches on family dramas and love with an added supernatural twist. Her always entertaining and dead-on dialogues that go on between characters are the strongest features in her stories.

But let's go back to Black Rose. I already showed you that this is no romance novel, so skip it and the first installment if that's what you are looking for. However if you want to pick it up for the aforementioned qualities that Roberts usually writes about and that's exactly what you are looking for or enjoy, then by all means go ahead and pick it up.

So why the 2 star rating?.....well even as a story I had a hard time liking the novel for 2 reasons: one, the aforementioned dull romance that you hardly even cared to read about; and two, I literally hated Roz.

I did not just dislike her or disrespected her, or was frustrated with her behavior, I HATED her. I have never read a more arrogant, know-it all, haughty, cold, officious, abrasive, and conceited heroine in my life! Halfway through the book, I was screaming at her as if I was watching a sports game for god-sakes and everytime she opened her mouth, you felt as if some goddess was speaking and all those who happen to be near her vicinity-including her sons and so-called best friends that have known her for a year-should sit in awe and fascination that she should bestow this rare honor to speak to such lowly and unworthy creatures. It sadly gets even worse as they fawn and twitter at the slightest thing she does and then have heart palpitations and cower in fear whenever she has a hissy fit.

That I would still read her last book in this debacle of a trilogy in order to find out what will happen to the family ghost, and after ranting about the worst heroine I have ever read, which was mainly the reason I have rated this novel so low, truly shows Roberts' talent as a story teller.
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