Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
I downloaded the audiobook through the public library's OverDrive service.
I am a big fan of Nora Roberts. Before I ever read anything by her, I had this impression that she wrote hot 'n heavy cheesefests. She doesn't. She's a really good writer and she excels at giving her books a "sense of place." I especially enjoy her books on audio; Brilliance Audio does a great job with them and they are my fix of choice when I need an escape to somewhere lovely but am too broke for a plane ticket.
Blue Dahlia is the first book in the In the Garden trilogy. The "place" is western Tennessee, a garden and landscaping business located on the grounds of a gorgeous old family estate. Most of the book takes place in early spring creeping into summer, which suits me perfectly as I battle through a dreary Yankee January. Three women at different life stages find their lives converging and intertwining with each others'-- and with the house ghost.
This trilogy shares a lot of characteristics with my other favorite Nora Roberts series, the Bride Quartet. There's a sigh-worthy grand old estate, a big "family" that is formed by choice and circumstance, and the business about which they are all passionate underlying everything. A lot of Goodreads commenters seem to feel that there are too many "gardening tips," but I disagree. Nora Roberts sets her scenes so well precisely because she includes little details about the characters' lives, interests, and activities. I didn't find it at all overbearing, and I'm no gardening junkie.
My treadmill sessions while listening to this book were a breeze! Running is so much easier for me when I listen to something interesting but comfortably happy. The narrator, Susie Breck, manages to give each character a distinct voice, which helps me follow the action with a minimum of brain power and a maximum of enjoyment.