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4.4 out of 5 stars
Red Lily (In the Garden, Book 3)
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harper Ashby and Hayley Phillips have been circling around their attraction for each other for quite awhile now. Neither wants to ruin the special friendship they have established, but both crave for something more. The chance to love each other is there and they are going to grab it with both hands. Along with Hayley's young daughter Lily, Harper and Hayley start to form a family.

However, all is not right at Harper House. Amelia, the ghostly presence that has lived in the house since the late 1890s is getting more violent, more unpredictable. She's been taking over Hayley's body, using Hayley in order to get her story across. It's taking a heavy toll on Hayley, along with Roz and Stella and company. This close knit group must find a way to rid Harper House forever of Amelia's ghost, while also providing a fitting ending for a woman who was treated shabbily in life. Can they do it, or is Amelia destined to haunt Harper House forever?

Red Lily is the fabulous conclusion for Nora Roberts latest trilogy. This is a truly creepy novel, more so in my opinion than previous Roberts' trilogies have been. The way Amelia subtly and slyly takes over Hayley's body is spooky to read about, but is counterbalanced nicely by the blooming relationship between Hayley and Harper. Also enjoyable for this reader was catching up with the other tenants of Harper House.

This is by far the best of the three stories, and even if you weren't all that thrilled by Blue Dahlia and Black Rose, as I myself wasn't, I think you'll find Red Lily to be a fast-paced, and action packed romance that definitely shows off Ms. Roberts romance talent once again.

All in all, this is suspenseful and romantic tale that will keep you on the edge with the mystery surrounding Amelia.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harper and Haley finally get their story. Through the entire series they have gotten to know and love each other. Haley came to Harper House pregnant and very alone, but now has a large extended loving family. She is desperate to let Harper know her feelings, but fears from both of them keep desires hidden.

Amelia, the Harper Bride escalates her violent tendencies as soon as the love between Haley and Harper becomes evident. Haley, Harper, Roz, Mitch, Stella, and Logan race against time to solve the mystery before something tragic happens.

The final book in the garden series did not disappoint!! I loved the entire series, and it will be a permanent addition to my library.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As slow and meandering as the first two books in Nora Roberts' In the Garden trilogy were, "Red Lily" is the exact opposite. In a fast-paced, interesting, romantic thriller, Roberts is back to herself as she tells two stories at once: the romance of single mother Hayley and Roz's eldest son Harper--and the escalating haunting of the ghost who wants something from Hayley and is willing to posseses her to get it. But what does she want?

Nora comes back alive in this book as she describes Hayley's winsomly darling baby daughter, Lily--one cannot help thinking that the author is describing her own adored grandbaby, it seems so real and true! The romance is perhaps a bit less graphic than in past books, but just as pleasing as always, and the dialogue is fresh and "now" and right.

I'm so glad to see Nora back in the groove. I believe that she has settled happily and comfortably into the third stage of a women's life--wife and grandma--and this book positively shimmers with that happiness. I lift a glass of wine to her and this wonderful book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really hate to give Nora Roberts low marks on a book, but this one leaves me no choice. Instead of a neat wrap to a compelling trilogy, it was more of a dragged-out ending to a story that just didn't stretch far enough. In "Blue Dahlia" we met the whole crew starring in this series and got an introduction to the Harper Bride, who haunts Harper House, where most of them live. In "Black Rose" we learned more about the Harper family, and how the Harper Bride fit into it. In this book, the rest of the secrets about the Harper Bride were revealed, but as to the romance, it felt like a rehash of things we already read in books 1 and 2.

Hayley Phillips appeared at Harper House in "Blue Dahlia," pregnant and alone in the world. She's a distant cousin by marriage of Roz Harper, the mistress of Harper House, and the owner of the gardening center she started. Even six months pregnant, Hayley caught the eye of Harper Ashby, Roz's eldest son who lives in a guest house on the property and works with grafting and other technical aspects of running the garden center. Hayley's daughter Lily was born in the second book, and loves Harper like she would a daddy, so Hayley is fearful if she follows her feelings for Harper that everything will get messed up and she'll have to leave her wonderful new home. When she finally acts on her feelings and finds that Harper reciprocates, there isn't much more to be said. So, instead of having their budding relationship develop, there are too many scenes where Hayley discusses her feelings with Roz, while going on and on about how odd it is to discuss her love life with her lover's mother.

Meanwhile, the Harper Bride is becoming a lot more than a benign ghost who sings to children and breaks the occasional dish. Amelia, as the ghost is known, starts to inhabit Hayley's body and mind, often sliding her own peevish thoughts in with Hayley's, and showing Hayley the world through her twisted view. Because of this, the crew at Harper House becomes a bunch of amateur psychologists who analyze the whys and wherefores of the ghost's thoughts, feelings, and lifestyle. In short, it became a bit much. I half expected them to call Dr. Mira for her input, but they appeared to have it all worked out themselves, all the way down to determining that the resident ghost really wouldn't have been a good mother after all. I also just didn't care for the way the final showdown with the ghost went down. It was too obvious what was going to happen, as well as being a bit anticlimactic.

Naturally, a person can't read the first two books of this trilogy and skip the third. Just don't expect as much from this one as the first two. All three books are filled with likeable and admirable characters. It just felt as if the story had already been told by the time we got to the third book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you haven't been reading the "In the Garden" trilogy, I highly recommend the first 2 books. This can be read stand alone as enough background is given with the setup and first few chapters. The series follows the stories of 3 women who come to live at Harper House in Tennessee and are at various stages in their lives: Stella who had been suddenly widowed and left with 2 young boys in Michigan and moves back to the place of her birth to get a better job and be near her father and wonderful stepmom; Rosalind (Roz) Harper Ashby who is 45+ and has raised 3 boys to adulthood and started her own nursery business, "In the Garden" when she was widowed and finally Hayley a very distant cousin of Roz's who comes to her 6 months pregnant and unmarried to get a job at In the Garden. Roz, Stella and Hayley have formed very close bonds of friendship. By this third book, Roz and Stella are married and all 3 have encounterd the "Harper Bride" ghost. They have worked hard with Logan, Mitch and Harper and Dave to identify the ghost. They know her name is Amelia and that she was most likely a mistress to Roz's Great-grandfather. In the first two books, Roz and Stella find new loves and are married. Now Hayley has her 14 month old daughter Lily and is working hard but finds herself with the "hots" for Harper, Roz's oldest son who works at In the Garden behind the scenes mostly doing propagation and making hybrids and so on. Harper has also been attracted to Hayley for sometime but thinks SHE thinks of him as a brother and so has not made any moves.

As Hayley and Harper begin to act on the attraction they feel, time, Amelia's ghost is making herself more known to Hayley and sometimes in a very dramatic "possession" type of way. This becomes very scary and unnerving to both Hayley and Harper.

I felt Nora Roberts did a wonderful job and both the romantic lines and the investigations into learning the full truth about Amelia!! NR did a great job also describing Hayley's daughter Lily and her antics and relationship with Harper. Harper's love for Lily too was wondefully done with humor and affection. The real detective work and contributions by Mitch, Hayley, Roz and Harper to uncover the full and complete truth and put things to right were right on the money. I also love how NR keeps some humor in her stories which helps bring realism to even this "ghost" story!!

A fun read!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nora did not disappoint. Contrary to some reviewers, I found this last book in the "In the Garden" trilogy a well-written, well-played out conclusion to a most interesting story. Red Lily is Hayley's story and very descriptive of a young woman with a great deal of love to share and a great desire to share it with Harper Ashby. Unbeknownst to Hayley, Harper had always had an attraction to her, however, neither one felt it was the proper time or circumstance to act upon their feelings. Hayley makes the first move and that is all it takes for their relationship to blossom. Hayley's little girl is just fascinated by Harper and this should make for a "happy ever after" ending were it not for the resident ghost, Amelia. Amelia has taken a special interest in Hayley and decides to take over her body as well as her mind to right the injustice that had been done to her over 100 years ago. Just as Stella and Roz had experienced her wrath, Hayley pays the price of falling in love, thus irritating the Harper Bride. It is most interesting how Nora Roberts weaves a tale of suspense and intrigue with the characters we have come to love in this series. Stella, Logan, Roz, Mitch, Harper, Hayley and David all come together to bring about peace and justice and to uncover the mystery of Reginald Harper (Roz's great grandfather) and the consequence of his actions played out through many generations. You will not want to miss the conclusion to this series. Red Lily is definitely worth the read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the conclusion of the Trilogy. It tells the story of Hayley Phillips, a young mother who came to Memphis to start a new life. What she finds is a new job, a beautiful home she shares with her distant cousin Roz and some new best friends. What she didn't count on was falling in love with Roz's son Harper. She also didn't count on being possessed by the family ghost. Through the many interactions with Amelia they find out what happened to her and they finally put her to rest. This was a pretty good book . The only thing I didn't like about this trilogy was the gardening descriptions which really bored me. I skipped those parts. Even though I did skip those parts I still liked it!! So it didn't keep me from enjoying it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nora Roberts' greatest talent is in creating a realistic sense of place for the reader. She is better than almost all other present-day writers in this area. In the "In the Garden" trilogy, she takes us to a large plant nursery outside Memphis and makes it so that we can see the mansion, the gardens, carriage house, indeed, the entire locale. One almost feels that he has been there. Roberts creates the same realism in her other novels--Alaska, an island off New England, the Louisiana Bayous, etc. I would add as an aside that gardens are a recurring theme in Ms. Roberts' works, even in frigid "Northern Lights."

Her characters are generally engaging, but she throws in one in "In the Garden" who is, for lack of a better term, annoying. The genealogist is supposed to be a "hottie," attracted to Ros, the principle character in the middle book, "Black Rose." But the genealogist/professor is pedantic one moment, as he carefully explains for the ignorant, and sappy the next as he romances his employer, Ros. A somewhat similar character appears in the Three Sisters Island trilogy by Ms. Roberts: a "scientist" who is investigating witches by using vaguely described technical instruments. The genealogist and quasi-scientist could have been of some other occupation and the books would have been better.

I can accept witches and ghosts in fiction. They are part of a long literary tradition, from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling. The failing is when a writer tries to look at ghosts and witches with some modern-scientific and logical perspective and thus destroys the illusion. The only exception is when this is done humorously, as in "Ghostbusters," and even then the results are questionable and silly.

The plots are OK in all Ms. Roberts' books--nothing spectacular--just OK. She throws in sex scenes, generally two per novel. They are warm and gauzy sex scenes, lacking in specifics such as one came to accept in old movies. I suppose these episodes are necessary for some readers, but I don't believe the gratuitous bedroom (or in one case, the lawn} scenes add anything worthwhile.

Closer editing would help in numerous cases. Surprising errors occur. The Atlanta Braves, for example, do not play the Seattle Mariners--ever. Celiac disease was unknown in Ros' grandfather's infancy. College basketball players cannot be drafted 10th in the first round by the Boston Celtics and still be playing college ball. Etc. Some may consider these niggling points, but they are the sort of thing that can puncture the balloon of reality for a reader.

Despite the imperfections, the books are fine examples of escapist literature. I would not call them "chic lit." The term itself is somehow offensive. Fiction is either good or bad or somewhere in between. To defend a book's shortcomings by saying, "Well, it was written for women" is saying, "Well, it may be a bad book but women have no taste." I cannot accept that.

Nora Roberts' books are not perfect. Few novels are. But the atmosphere alone is sufficient to bring me to read more by this writer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Hayley Phillips came to Memphis to look up her distant cousin, Rosalind Harper, she never imagined where she'd end up just a few years down the road. Finding a job was what she was hoping for, finding a family was something she least expected.

Now two years later, her daughter Lily is 18 months old. While Hayley always admired Harper Ashby from afar, she never acted on her attraction. For one thing she had neither the time nor the energy to purse any sort of relationship. She also would never jepordize her place in the Harper household by going after Roz's son. Soon, her attraction to Harper overcomes her common sense and she shows him how she feels. She never expected that he felt the same.

Harper Ashby was bowled over by Hayley when she first showed up at Harper House, very pregnant and very alone. He never expected to be physically attracted to a woman who was six months pregnant. As the months passed, Harper's feelings for Hayley grow into something more, something that he can no longer deny.

This is the conclusion of the IN THE GARDEN trilogy. While in the previous two books, Amelia is somewhat of a benign presense, in RED LILY, she is determined to be heard. She does this by possessing Hayley's body. Soon Harper and Haley along with Logan, Stella, Roz, and Mitch are racing to find out what happened to Amelia before she hurts Hayley in her quest for vengeance.

While I'm not one for ghost stories, Nora Roberts made this so real that I was a little creeped out going to bed the night I finished it. From the beginning, I bounced back and forth between feeling sorry for and despising Amelia. I think that Roberts wrapped this series up very nicely.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon November 30, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hayley Phillips had no place to go to safely raise her newborn Lily, so she came to Memphis' legendary Harper House hoping to obtain work from her distant relative forty-something Roz Harper at the attached In the Garden nursery (see BLUE DAHLIA). She has found much more as she becomes friends with her curmudgeon host, Stella and others who shower her and Lily with love. However over time, Hayley realizes she also loves Roz's son Harper, but fears revealing her deep feelings because she worries how Roz and their friends would react; not even love is worth the cost of that friendship. Besides she has doubts that the deep regard is truly hers as she thinks the Harper Bride has somehow entered her mind. Harper shares her feelings including not wanting to hurt their friendship that means so much to him.

Hayley believes the Harper Bride, a ghost singing lullabies in the mansion, has chosen her as the one to help the spirit leave this plane. Accompanied by Harper, Roz and her beloved Mitchell (see BLACK ROSE), and Stella and her cherished Logan they begin a quest to learn what happened in 1893 to keep this specter haunting the mansion.

RED LILY is a terrific ending to the delightful In the Garden trilogy. Haley fantasizes about Harper and dreams of things that happened to the Harper Bride not her. This makes her wonder if the Bride or she loves Harper. The ensemble cast returns from the previous novels, but remains consistent to their distinctive personalities. The mystery of the ghost and the potential romance make for a fine finale as the audience will wonder whether the Bride, Haley, or both loves Harper. Nora Roberts proves once again she is one of the best writers in the romance world.

Harriet Klausner
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