The first chapter opens with our main character, Evangeline Ames, getting out of bed in the middle of the night, ready to climb out her window to escape a killer. She heads for the only place she knows she might be safe, the eerie Crystal Gardens Manor. Successfully evading her would-be killer, she runs right into the new owner of the house, Lucas Sebastian. From here, they go on a wild ride of murders, treasure hunts and evading man-eating plants along with observing proprieties while engaging in romantic interludes of course. If you are a fan of Amanda Quick, then you won't be disappointed with this book. We have our feisty and independent heroine, Evangeline Ames, currently residing in Fern cottage next to Crystal Gardens. On holiday from her job as a paid companion in London, she suddenly finds herself in the middle of her own murder attempt while trying to investigate the secrets of Crystal Gardens. Then there is Lucas Sebastian, our dark and mysterious hero, the owner of Crystal Gardens, who is instantly attracted to Evangeline's plight and later on succumbs to her charms. Together, along with the novels amusing secondary characters, they solve the mystery of who is trying to kill her while falling in love in the process. Sounds simple enough right. Well not really. This is an Amanda Quick book after all. Ms. Quick is known for adding something extra to her already engaging plot twists, that of paranormal elements, most specifically the psychical aspect. This leaves her readers more than satisfied with the story.
Crystal Gardens is the first in the new trilogy, Ladies of Lantern Street. It would also be considered somewhat of a spin-off from her long standing psychical-thriller romance series, The Arcane Society. You can say Ms. Quick has become an expert in this type of genre, some say she might have started it.
So what do I like about this particular book? I do enjoy Ms. Quick's writing style, the dialogue is exceptional, her characters engaging and the plot well its never as simple as it seems. Her characters are imbued with paranormal talents or abilities ranging from reading and manipulating auras, clairvoyance, the ability to work with crystals. The paranormal that has been studied in a scientific set up but was considered mystical or of the occult during Victorian England which oddly enough gained it quite a following. Crystal Gardens also has quite a few female characters with different backgrounds. The book quickly delves into the history of each of these female characters and what becomes of them in a society that values them only for what they are worth in material terms. The other thing I like about the romantic aspect is that Evie had decided very early on that she was going to engage in a romantic liaison with Lucas even though it might not last, considering their stations in life. No shrinking violet is Evie that's for sure. And Lucas is typical of the dark mysterious and dangerous hero that we've come to love in Amanda Quick's novels. They're usually soft like a marshmallow when it comes to their lady loves. They just tend to growl more and be a bit scary for some people.
If you love a good romantic suspense set in this time frame and you like them with a bit of extra then you will enjoy reading Crystal Gardens. If you however are not a fan of these types of stories then I guess this one isn't for you. Those who are interested might want to check out Amanda Quick's other books, especially The Arcane Society Series.
Title: Crystal Gardens (Ladies of Lantern Street #1)
Author: Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz aka Jayne Castle)
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Historical, Paranormal
Published: April 2012
Publisher: Putnam, recently Jove
Rating:♨♨♨♨- for its engaging and mystery-ladened plot, intriguing main characters and for the very eerie and mysterious Crystal Gardens. However non fans might not find this enjoyable at all.