|In the Garden Trilogy|
|Penguin Group USA, Inc. (2010)|
Nora Roberts's In the Garden Trilogy "America's favorite writer" (The New Yorker) takes us to a historic Southern mansion that houses a gardening business—and a ghostly presence—in this winning trilogy of romance and suspense.
I don’t have hobbies. I have passions. Gardening is one of my passions, and spring—when it’s time to get out there and dig in the dirt—is my favorite season.
I live in the woods, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and my land is rough and rocky. A tough field for a passionate gardener to play in. I’ve solved part of the problem with many raised beds, but the rocks still find a way. Every spring, it’s a battle—me against rock, and most years I win.
I’m fortunate to be married to a man who enjoys yard work. Because if I want to plant a daffodil bulb in the stony ground, I’ve got to call my guy with the pick. But it’s worth it. Every spring when I see my daffodils popping, watch my willows greening, see the perennials I’ve planted in place of rock spearing up, I’m happy. Just as I’m happy to get out there with my spade and cultivator to start prepping the soil for what I might plant this season.
It’s hard, sweaty, dirty work, and it pleases me to do it, year after year. For me, a garden is always a work in progress, never quite finished, and always a delight to the eye. Nearly twenty years ago, my guy planted a tulip magnolia in front of our house. Now, every spring, my bedroom windows are full of those gorgeous pink blooms. And when they fade and drop, something else will flower to make me smile.
At the end of a long day, whether it’s writing or gardening, or just dealing with the dozens of chores life hands out, there’s nothing quite like a walk in the garden to soothe the mind and heart.
So plant some flowers, watch them grow. The rewards far out-reach the toil.
Titles by Nora Roberts
FROM THE HEART
A LITTLE MAGIC
A LITTLE FATE
(with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)
The Once Upon Series (with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)
ONCE UPON A CASTLE
ONCE UPON A STAR
ONCE UPON A DREAM
ONCE UPON A ROSE
ONCE UPON A KISS
ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT
The In the Garden Trilogy
The Key Trilogy
KEY OF LIGHT
KEY OF KNOWLEDGE
KEY OF VALOR
The Irish Trilogy
JEWELS OF THE SUN
TEARS OF THE MOON
HEART OF THE SEA
The Chesapeake Bay Saga
Three Sisters Island Trilogy
DANCE UPON THE AIR
HEAVEN AND EARTH
FACE THE FIRE
The Born In Trilogy
BORN IN FIRE
BORN IN ICE
BORN IN SHAME
The Dream Trilogy
DARING TO DREAM
HOLDING THE DREAM
FINDING THE DREAM
Titles by Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb
Titles by J. D. Robb
(in order of publication)
NAKED IN DEATH
GLORY IN DEATH
IMMORTAL IN DEATH
RAPTURE IN DEATH
CEREMONY IN DEATH
VENGEANCE IN DEATH
HOLIDAY IN DEATH
CONSPIRACY IN DEATH
LOYALTY IN DEATH
WITNESS IN DEATH
JUDGMENT IN DEATH
BETRAYAL IN DEATH
SEDUCTION IN DEATH
REUNION IN DEATH
PURITY IN DEATH
PORTRAIT IN DEATH
IMITATION IN DEATH
DIVIDED IN DEATH
(with Susan Plunkett, Dee Holmes, and Claire Cross)
OUT OF THIS WORLD
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Susan Krinard, and Maggie Shayne)
Also available ...
THE OFFICIAL NORA ROBERTS COMPANION
(edited by Denise Little and Laura Hayden)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Blue Dahlia: Book One of the Garden Trilogy
A JOVE Book / published by arrangement with the author
All rights reserved. Copyright © 2005 by The Jove Publishing Group. This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability. For information address: The Jove Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-1-101-49499-8
A JOVE BOOK®
JOVE Books first published by Berkley Publishing Group,
a member of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
JOVE and the “J” design are trademarks belonging to
Penguin Putnam Inc.
Electronic edition: May 2005
For Dan and Jason.
You may be men, but you’ll always be my boys.
If the plant root ball is tightly packed with roots,
these should be gently loosened.
They need to spread out after planting,
rather than continue to grow in a tight mass.
—FROM THETREASURY OF GARDENING
, ON TRANSPLANTING POTTED PLANTS
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
Table of Contents
Memphis, Tennessee August 1892
BIRTHING A BASTARD WASN’T IN THE PLANS. WHEN she’d learned she was carrying her lover’s child, the shock and panic turned quickly to anger.
There were ways of dealing with it, of course. A woman in her position had contacts, had avenues. But she was afraid of them, nearly as afraid of the abortionists as she was of what was growing, unwanted, inside her.
The mistress of a man like Reginald Harper couldn’t afford pregnancy.
He’d kept her for nearly two years now, and kept her well. Oh, she knew he kept others—including his wife—but they didn’t concern her.
She was still young, and she was beautiful. Youth and beauty were products that could be marketed. She’d done so, for nearly a decade, with steely mind and heart. And she’d profited by them, polished them with the grace and charm she’d learned by watching and emulating the fine ladies who’d visited the grand house on the river where her mother had worked.
She’d been educated—a bit. But more than books and music, she’d learned the arts of flirtation.
She’d sold herself for the first time at fifteen and had pocketed knowledge along with the coin. But prostitution wasn’t her goal, any more than domestic work or trudging off to the factory day after day. She knew the difference between whore and mistress. A whore traded quick and cold sex for pennies and was forgotten before the man’s fly was buttoned again.
But a mistress—a clever and successful mistress—offered romance, sophistication, conversation, gaiety along with the commodity between her legs. She was a companion, a wailing wall, a sexual fantasy. An ambitious mistress knew to demand nothing and gain much.
Amelia Ellen Conner had ambitions.
And she’d achieved them. Or most of them.
She’d selected Reginald quite carefully. He wasn’t handsome or brilliant of mind. But he was, as her research had assured her, very rich and very unfaithful to the thin and proper wife who presided over Harper House.
He had a woman in Natchez, and it was said he kept another in New Orleans. He could afford another, so Amelia set her sights on him. Wooed and won him.
At twenty-four, she lived in a pretty house on South Main and had three servants of her own. Her wardrobe was full of beautiful clothes, and her jewelry case sparkled.