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Romance Review – Crystal Gardens


Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick


Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)



Ladies of Lantern Street – book 1

Evangeline has taken a sabbatical from her day job and retired to the country to write her first novel.  Of course, that’s not the only reason – there was that little matter of a violent altercation involving her last case.  And then there is the inspiration to be found for a supernatural novel in the local Roman ruins and the country house known as Crystal Gardens which locals prefer to avoid.  Sadly, after completing four chapters of the novel she is extremely uninspired, suffering both boredom and writer’s block.

Additional inspiration strikes when our heroine flees her cottage for Crystal Gardens pursued by a murderer with a knife and falls almost literally into the arms of Lucas, the new owner of Crystal Gardens.  The carnivorous plants in the Night Garden get the attempted murderer, so Lucas attempts to get to the bottom of the attack by interviewing Evangeline.  Not much is resolved so he returns her to her cottage before anyone sees them together.  [The setting is Victorian so seeing the heroine, dressed only in her wrapper, in the company of the hero would be far more shocking than a contemporary heroine who moonlights as Miss Kitty Galore at the local strip club.  Evangeline now has the cure for her writer’s block and her boredom, she will make the villain of her piece into the hero and model him after the fascinating Lucas!

Lucas sends for an aunt to provide propriety to the situation and has Evangeline move into Crystal Gardens so he can protect her while trying to solve the crime.  To Lucas dismay, more and more family members appear throughout the story adding further complexities to the story line.  Besides solving murders, attempted murders, thefts, and the mystery of the out-of-control gardens; Evangeline deals with Lucas’ stepmother who has dark secrets and a taste for melodrama, the matchmaking aunt and the much-younger and scientifically, but not psychically, inclined siblings.

This is a paranormal romance.  The hero, the heroine, the heroine’s friends, the plants, AND the pool in the garden all possess some sort of psychic power.  Despite the psychic stuff, this is NOT an Arcane Society novel – so don’t spend your time looking around virtual corners expecting them to show up.  They don’t.

This is romantic suspense – it has sexual tension but not a whole lot of sex – and what occurs is not detailed. Krentz is great writer – whether she is in her Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz, or Jayne Castle mode.  Her characters are fascinating, the dialogue is witty, and the plots are page turning.  Probably because it is a Victorian setting, this book is ‘cooler’ in tone than some of her others.  If you are new to the author you might want to start with one of her earlier novels – Scandal perhaps, or Ravished.  Of course that might be because the Victorian era never was a personal interest of mine but she does make it breathe…

Good read? Yes.  Will there be more in this series?  Undoubtedly.  Will I buy them?  Definitely.  And the ultimate accolade?  My husband liked it also…


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