Desert Isle Keeper
Blue Dahlia, which combines an intriguing mystery and a compelling romance, just earned a spot firmly on my keeper shelf . Halfway through reading this book I realized I wanted the next two books in the trilogy right now so I wouldn’t have to wait to find out what happens with the Harper ghost and the mystery skein that travels through all three of them.
Stella Rothchild lost her wonderful, loving husband and father to their two sons two years ago. Her world shattered the day he was killed in a plane crash, but she managed to keep herself together for her young sons, Luke and Gavin. Leaving Michigan is another step to healing and moving on. When she interviews for her dream job as a manager to a wonderful greenhouse/nursery in her birthplace of Memphis, Tennessee, she has no idea it will change her life.
Rosalind Harper Ashby owns the Harper mansion, and a thriving plant nursery called “In the Garden.” The business has grown substantially, and although she loves the day to day business of cultivating and growing her plants, she needs a manager to help organize the selling and landscaping side. Roz knows she has found her manager when she meets Stella. Roz is about ten years older than Stella, but shares a background with her that includes the loss of a husband and single parenthood. Roz’s adult son Harper also works at the nursery in new plant development. Both Stella and Roz are hopeful that they will work together splendidly, and Stella moves into the mansion for the first year as manager to make the job easier for both of them.
Hayley Phillips is the third member of the trio. She is 24, very pregnant, and a distant cousin by marriage to Roz. She comes to Memphis in hopes that Roz will give her a job through the last trimester of her pregnancy. The father of her child was a guy she liked, but didn’t love. When he found his soul mate, she didn’t want to mar his happiness. They parted friends, but Hayley knows she needs support when the baby comes – and she doesn’t want a handout. Her arrival is perfect since Stella needs a hard worker in the shop, and Hayley is excellent with the customers. The three women come together as a great team and develop a strong friendship.
Logan Kitridge is the landscaper for In the Garden. He runs his life and his landscaping in a rather “organized chaos” fashion. When he comes up against Stella’s regimented style, both are instantly irritated with each other. Stella cannot imagine how he can create such beautiful designs in such disorganization, and he hates her paperwork obsession. Their relationship develops slowly; Stella is a very careful person, and she will not emotionally endanger her children. Logan is an extremely straightforward person, and includes her sons in the budding relationship, earning Stella’s trust.
There is another character that must be mentioned in this review – the Harper ghost. She has been a part of the mansion for as long as anyone can remember. No one knows exactly who she is, but Roz assumes she must be a bride. She appears mainly to the children of the house and seems sad, so Roz believes she must have lost a child or something. From the first, Luke and Gavin see her; she sings to them, and seems benign. However, when Logan and Stella begin to see each other seriously, she very definitely becomes angry with Stella, all the while being careful not to scare the children. Stella is determined to discover her identity to protect her children, and all of the characters come together to research her identity. Nothing about the ghost resolves by the end of this book, hence my impatience for the next two novels.
My only quibble with this book was that because it is the first in a series, the background setup involving the mystery and each character detracted ever-so-slightly from Logan and Stella’s relationship. However, this was a very small issue and I enjoyed all these characters immensely. Roberts always does an excellent job with relationships between women and this book is no exception. Each is in a different point in their lives involving motherhood and children, and I look forward to reading Roz and Hayley’s stories, hopefully very soon!