Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick

Title: Crystal Gardens
Series: Ladies of Lantern Street
Author: Amanda Quick
Read copy: eBook
Published: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN: 1101580429
ISBN-13: 9781101580424

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 rating:

One could say the recent Quick/Krentz/Castle books are quite formulaic—a tall, dark, handsome, brooding, paranormally endowed hero + a headstrong, feisty, unconventionally beautiful, paranormally gifted heroine + paranormally enhanced environment + bad guys obsessed with treasure/artifacts/etc. + a possible murder case + love at (almost) first sight + lovin’ and sexiness + a possible revenge plot + HEA (which is a given in romance anyway).

But I love me some formulaic Quick/Krentz/Castle book, because despite the formula and predictability of the outcome, I can’t help but be entranced, root for the leading couple, wiggle in my seat thanks to the suspense, and keep turning page after page until the end. And then, of course, wish it didn’t end.

My reading experience of Crystal Gardens was no different. I’ve picked a book up after a few months of reading ‘drought’, because I knew I would not be bored and I also knew a Quick/Krentz/Castle book was just perfect to get me reading again.

And I wasn’t disappointed. I love it how she almost seamlessly combines different series and/or trilogies into a larger ‘themed series’. Her paranormals have started with the Arcane Society series (that spanned three different time frames – historical, contemporary and futuristic), turned into Ladies of Lantern Street series (historical), Dark Legacy series (contemporary), and Rainshadow series (futuristic) still blending with her Harmony series.

The heroes and heroines live together in this ‘paranormal world’ Ms. Krentz has created, sharing space and time and sometimes acquaintances, making them appear at the same time familiar and new to the reader.

Crystal Gardens was the same. Both familiar (paranormal abilities of the leading couple) and new (the exotic garden, for example). And I, as all the books before, loved it from beginning to end. Actually, Lucas Sebastian, the leading man, is now one of my favorite Quick/Krentz/Castle heroes. There was just something about him...*sigh* His leading lady was the usual Quick/Krentz/Castle heroine—coming from a lower class than the hero, headstrong, quirky, opinionated...And with two friends (who, by my estimation will feature in the next books in the series) that made me curious as to what will happen to them (especially the one with the ‘secret’).

There were some new elements in the story—the hero’s twin younger brother and sister with their curiosity and obvious love, respect and admiration for their older brother, the frightened and somewhat prejudiced hero’s stepmother (I suspected a far different secret on her part), the already-mentioned garden...And three dark crystals which will be the main ‘ingredient’ of the stories to come.

There were equal amounts of suspense, laughter, darkness, paranormal and loving to keep me entertained and turning the pages.


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