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Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick
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I have read Amanda Quick’s novels since they were straight historical romances. Now she writes historical/romance/paranormal/mysteries and I still enjoy her books.

Crystal Gardens is the start of a new series based on ladies who use their paranormal talents for an agency who places them as paid companions. In reality these paid companions are really private inquiry agents. In this story Evangeline Ames has been sent to a village outside of London for the good of her health as there is someone out to kill her. Of course, the killer follows her but she gets away by running to the Crystal Gardens, a source of paranormal activity and the home of the handsome man who rescues her from the killer. Romance and mystery ensue.
  Familyhistorian | Sep 21, 2014 |
Quick read. ( )
  lindahallmann | Jul 12, 2014 |
I'm not sure where to begin with this book.

The quality of the writing is poor. The author might have reorganized the characters dialogue. There were redundancies of Evangeline's comments. The reader is left to feel anxiety in regards to the elementary and simple conversation. There is no thought involved and not much mystery. I would have liked to have "figured it out more" on my own rather than being held by hand. It was hard to maintain focus on the book. It was not engrossing by any means and I fould my mind was wondering on other things. I enjoyed some of the paranormal subject matter but constantly using the word "psychical" was irritating. I found the descriptions of the gardens nice. I felt I could visualize the flowers, the maze, and bath house.

It would have been more helpful to build up Eva's and Lucas' physical appearances and more of their intimate encounters.

Overall, the plot was okay but it wasn't something I'd recommend. I've been spoiled by Laurie R King and Jude Devereaux so it's difficult to enjoy other less thought provoking and intelligent writing styles.
  M_Sims | Jul 4, 2014 |
Crystal Gardens is the beginning of a trilogy, A Ladies of the Lantern Street Novel. Writing this novel as Amanda Quick means the time period is in the past, and one of the few historical paranormal authors I read. New readers to Amanda Quick might think her books are too quirky and weird. Old timers like me would do just about anything to get their hands on one of her novels. It amazes me that Ms Quick can switch up the time periods in her novels without compromising the characters and the storyline.

Evangeline Ames is a paid professional companion who is hiding out in the countryside after she was attacked in London. Her attacker, well, I can't go there without spoilers, sorry. Evie is fascinated by the paranormal and rents a cottage close to Crystal Gardens. She continually sneaks into the Gardens to study them. Thank goodness she does because another murder attempt sends her fleeing into the Gardens for safety. Much to her surprise and relief, she meets her landlord, Lucas Sebastian roaming the grounds. Lucas and his man send the attacker fleeing into the maze of the Garden. The Sebastian family has a history of being "different". And that's all I'm going to say on that.

Amanda Quick has a gift for writing strong female leads even in the time period of ladylike correctness. Her heroines are smart, likable and just a bit naughty. The love interest is usually smart, intriguing, and somewhat alpha, but not overpowering. The mystery of her novels is not a deep dark secret from the reader. Usually you can figure out the villain but reading how the villain is caught is part of the fun of the books. The conversation and interaction is the other good part. The novel moves along at a good pace with some family angst thrown in for tension.

Now, I've gone back and read some of the other reviews to see if I missed something or need to address anything. Here's my take. Ms Quick has a tendency to reuse certain words in her novels; that may irritate some new readers. If you've read her previous works, it's something you come to expect. That's her quirky side. As a fan of Ms Quick, I just accept it and move on. It has no bearing on the storyline. It's a trademark so to speak.

This is by no means my favorite novel but it did just what I expected it to. It kept me entertained and provided many smiles. I'm looking forward to the next two installments. ( )
  Fidget78 | Jan 5, 2014 |
This book was fantastic! Thrilling romance, clever dialogue, great characters, and a complex and interesting plot. Evangeline Ames is the ideal heroine! She's clever, daring, and very likable. Lucas Sebastian is handsome, unconventional, sexy and protective. The romance between the two is sizzling. The plot is engaging with lots of twists and story lines that seamlessly flow together for an exciting novel with just the right mix of adventure, paranormal elements, and romance. This was a fun read from beginning to end.

( )
  Azacia | Dec 8, 2013 |
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For my husband, Frank
with all my love
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The muffled thud of the shattered lock echoed like a thunderclap in the deep silence that drenched the cottage.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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.
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Moving to a country cottage where she seeks refuge in a paranormally charged garden, Evangeline Ames is rescued from a would-be assassin by the garden's owner, Lucas Sebastian, who taps Evangeline's detective skills to solve a buried-treasure mystery and stop a common enemy.… (more)

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