Saturday, September 11, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick

Crystal Gardens

Amanda Quick
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Series: Ladies of Lantern Street (Book 1)
Publication: Brilliance Audio (April 24, 2012); Berkley (April 24, 2012)
Length: 10 hours and 14 minutes; 345 p.

Description: New York Times bestselling author Amanda Quick delivers “a promising start to a Victorian-era series”* with the first Ladies of Lantern Street novel…

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.

My Thoughts: Evangeline Ames has come to the quiet, rural town of Little Digby to get over an attempted murder and to write the next chapters of her sensational novel. She has been there a couple of weeks suffering from both boredom and writer's block, when she is awakened one evening by someone breaking in. She flees to the nearest home, that of her landlord Lucas Sebastian. She attempts to hide from her assailant in the very scary gardens that surround the house. She had been warned by the locals that strange things happened in that garden and her own paranormal senses tell her that the locals are correct. Lucas comes to her rescue and exhibits some paranormal senses of his own doing so.

The two had met in a local bookshop when Lucas arrived in town to stay at Crystal Gardens. Lucas was fascinated by her but his main concern was learning who had murdered his uncle. After Evie's attack, he took advantage of the situation to get closer to her by providing protection. Someone was clearly trying to kill her. But Evangeline was no helpless victim. She might outwardly seem like an unobtrusive lady's companion but she was employed by an agency to do discreet private inquiries. The agency looked for young women with paranormal skills.  

Lucas and Evie get closer as they work to find out who killed his uncle, who is trying to kill her, why the paranormal energies are increasing at Crystal Gardens making the gardens more and more dangerous, and who is hunting for the hidden Roman treasure that is rumored to be buried in the Night Garden. Of course they also have to deal with the ramifications of their relationship in a time when a woman's reputation was worth more than gold. 

Evie had no intention of ever marrying because she believed herself too old, too poor, and of too low a social status but that doesn't mean that she isn't willing to explore her sensual side if the right man and the right situation comes along. And Lucas looks like the right man. Her justification is that it will help her be a better writer of her sensational novels if she has some experience. Lucas, having determined to have her in his life, is more than willing to accommodate her. When the two are compromised by spending the night together in the garden, Lucas seizes the opportunity and announces their engagement. It takes a while to reconcile Evie and it takes some serious but unconventional courting before he can win her hand. 

I love the relationship between Evie and Lucas. Neither one of them fits into the normal mode of society and wouldn't even if they didn't have paranormal powers. I like the banter between them. I like that Evie knows Lucas better than his own family and accepts him as he is. The rest of the world is pretty much afraid of him. He is a man of responsibility and honor who has a paranormal gift that makes him very valuable in solving the most difficult of murder cases. I also like the relationship that Lucas has with his much younger twin brother and sister. 

This was a very good romance that I recommend to lovers of historical romance, paranormal romance, and Jayne Ann Krentz in all her many names and genres. 

Favorite Quote:
"'For your own good' are the four most irritating words in the English language."

A flicker of amusement whispered through him. "Yes, I have been told that on a number of occasions."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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