Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick

Novelist and professional companion Evangeline Ames has rented a cottage in the outskirts of Little Dixby, far from the London streets where she was recently attacked. Fascinated by the paranormal energy of nearby Crystal Gardens, she finds some pleasurable diversion 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 is plenty of whispering about him already, with rumors of treasure buried under his garden, and occult botanical experiments performed by his uncle — who died of mysterious causes. Immediately sensing each other’s psychic talents, as well as their mutual desire, Lucas and Evangeline find themselves with an even more pressing concern. Whoever tried to have her killed will try again. But who would want her dead? With Evangeline’s skill for detection, and Lucas’s sense of the criminal mind, they soon discover that they share a common enemy. And as the dangerous energy emanating from Crystal Gardens grows stronger, they realize that to survive they must unearth what has been buried for too long.

After finishing The Mystery Woman I decided to impose upon my public library again and backtrack to Crystal Gardens - which turned out to be a great decision. In my opinion Crystal Gardens is stronger than The Mystery Woman both in plot and character development; Evangeline and Lucas spend more significant time together and when his family descends to make sure that propriety is being observed they're forced to reveal parts of their past in way that brings them closer together. The only one I could have done without was maybe Luca's aunt, but since she was a vehicle for his sister and then eventually his brother to be introduced I can't say she was completely unnecessary. 

The suspense/mystery elements of the book were also fun to read. The whodunnit might not have been hard to figure out but there were enough strings around to other plots that while the ending wasn't uncharacteristic for Quick's work it was still enjoyable. Going back definitely has me excited about going forward - I might have to wait but the Ladies of Lantern Street will be worth it.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Crystal Gardens 2) The Mystery Woman