Evangeline Ames has rented a country cottage far from the London streets where she was recently attacked. Fascinated by the paranormal energy of nearby Crystal Gardens, she finds pleasure in sneaking past the wall to explore the grounds. And when her life is threatened again, she instinctively goes to the gardens for safety.
Lucas Sebastian has never been one to ignore a lady in danger, even if she is trespassing on his property. Quickly disposing of her would-be assassin, he insists they keep the matter private. There are rumors enough already, about treasure buried under his garden, and occult botanical experiments performed by his uncle — who died of mysterious causes.
With Evangeline’s skill for detection, and Lucas’s sense of the criminal mind, they soon discover that they have a common enemy. And as the energy emanating from Crystal Gardens intensifies, they realize that to survive they must unearth what has been buried for too long…
This blurb came from the author’s website here.
I have been an Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle, Jayne Ann Krentz fan since I discovered each name separately and was shocked years later to discover they were the same person (yes she has written under other names too). Each had their own particular writing style and era in which their stories were set. While I enjoy each pseudonym I started with Amanda Quick so opening up a new Quick story is like settling down to chat with an old friend.
I know she will give me a spunky heroine who doesn’t tend to limit her interests to those designated as appropriate for women. I will have a heroine who is intelligent, stubborn, and things a lot of societies trappings are ridiculous. She will have some sort of emotional support whether from family, friends, or servants and she will drive the hero absolutely crazy because she refuses to think and behave in a manner predictable to him. I will get a hero who is usually misunderstood by society in general, possibly emotionally scarred by a woman and as a result avoids anything to do with the women of society. They also tend to have connections with some unsavory or outlandish characters. On top of characters whose interactions I thoroughly enjoy I also know I will get a mystery, adventure and maybe a suspicious death or two or three…
I am happy to say that Ms Quick once again met my expectations. She starts off with a bang as Evangeline, the heroine, awakens to discover someone has invaded her rental cottage and she flees into the night. As that incident continued to unfold the first suspicious death that the reader is aware of occurs. The reader is also introduced to Lucas Sebastian, the hero, and his right hand man Stone. Neither of them fit the typical mold for a well-to-do landowner and his man.
As I continued reading, the relationship between Lucas and Evangeline started unfolding. Both had different expectations once they realized a mutual attraction existed and that expectation really didn’t follow the usual gender split. Even though I understood where their opposing viewpoints came from I found it amusing as they maneuvered through those obstacles. The introduction of Evangeline’s two friends as well as Lucas’ half siblings helped to flesh out the primary characters and also caused me to guess who the books after Crystal Gardens will star as their main characters. The local villagers were also a treat to see as they provided a sense of normalcy and grounding to the story.
While Lucas and Evangeline were struggling with their feelings towards each other they continued working together to determine the reason behind some of the suspicious deaths. From the start of the book it was evident that Lucas suspected a connection between his investigation into his uncle’s death and the event that caused Evangeline to temporarily move to the country. I liked how Ms Quick drew several different people into the investigation and also how she handled the link without taking the easy way out. Any further details on that would result in a major spoiler.
All in all Ms Quick gave me a satisfying comfort type of read. I had romance, mystery, and some paranormal elements all nicely entwined. I am looking forward to the next books in the Ladies of Lantern Street series.
I give Crystal Gardens a B
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