Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Lost Night by Jayne Castle

Title: The Lost Night
Series: Harmony, Rainshadow
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515152846
ISBN-13: 9780515152845

Even the mysterious world of Harmony has people who don't quite fit in. They're drawn to places like Rainshadow Island, a beautiful sanctuary where anyone can feel safe—and where secrets are closely guarded.

Schooled in an exotic form of martial arts, and with the ability to detect auras of dangerous psychic criminals, Rachel Blake and her dust bunny companion have found peace and quiet on Rainshadow Island, operating a bookstore and café.

But her tranquil new life is thrown into chaos when Harry Sebastian, the descendant of a notorious pirate, arrives to investigate strange developments in the privately owned woods know as the Preserve.

Immediately drawn to the amber-eyes woman, Harry must tread carefully. While Rachel's special talents can help him track down dangerous rogues who have violated the Preserve, they can also sense the heart of darkness within him. But desire can weaken the toughest of defenses—and leave even the strongest man wanting more.

My rating:

Ooh, another Rainshadow book. I’ve become fascinated with the island, and more importantly, the Preserve, in the first book in the series and in this one that intriguing spot of land on Rainshadow Island featured even more prominently.

This second installment in the series, albeit interesting in concept and plot, was a rather slow reading at times (maybe because I was watching a rather interesting editorial piece on TV as well), but still, I enjoyed it.

And as predicted, the crystals that were found buried in the garden in Crystal Gardens were important (and will be).

Surprisingly, though the story pretty much revolved around her, the heroine in this book came through as rather bland. Where were the martial arts promised in the blurb? She was rather forgettable, if you ask me. No matter, because I was completely blown away by the hero. Or more specifically, the hero’s talent. Or even more specifically, the authors description of the hero’s talent. I was particularly impressed with the term ‘graveyard cold’. Ooh, chilling.

The ending was a little disappointing for me, though. Not the resolution of the case part, but the psy-stalker part. It was over a little too quickly for my taste. But what can I say, I’m weird that way. ;)

Anyhow, a solid story with a promise of a great story in the future (featuring Harry’s brother and North’s granddaughter). Can’t wait.

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.