Evangeline is a paid companion and a budding authoress. She is renting a cottage from the elusive Lucas Sebastian on an estate that is buzzing with paranormal vibes and rumors of things that go bump in the night. Most townsfolk are scared of the estate and the owner, but Evangeline finds herself attracted to both. When Lucas rescues her, Evangeline finds herself teaming up with her mysterious landlord.
The plot to this story sounded wonderful to me. I am not a huge fan of Ms. Quick and all her pseudonyms, that is to say I havent' read all of her books, but I have genuinely enjoyed the ones that I have read. I usually like all things romance and all things paranormal. This one also promised to have plenty of mystery. So when I was offered this book I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately this book didn't live up to any of my expectations.
This book really fell flat to me on many levels. The characters were very one dimensional. I never got the feeling that they were ever fully developed or created. I never felt attached or any sort of connection to any of the characters. Usually in a book, especially in a series, I feel some sort of camaraderie to at least one character. The characters in this story were all interchangeable. No one stood out, no one made an impression on me. The main characters, especially, lacked personality and their romance lacked heat.
The storyline seemed to have all the necessary components of a bestselling paranormal romance/mystery, yet it never kept me on the edge of my seat. It really read like a rough draft. It had all the right ideas included, but it was missing the details. I didn't feel like we had a proper flow to the story, no real build up or climax. The tempo was just a lazy stroll through an underdeveloped story.
Honestly if this was my first book by this author, I wouldn't feel compelled to pick up another. I think hardcore fans will be a little more tolerant of this book, but I can't. Even if I have lukewarm feelings for a series my curious nature will have me wanting to read the next books. I can walk away from this series without a backward glance and without feeling like I am missing out on anything.
Cherise Everhard, April 2012
I actually liked this book. Both main charachters, matter of fact all the charachters in this book fitted in the storyline and made the story great. From the first there was instant chemistry between the main charachters. Can't wait for the other two ladies books.
I enjoy all of her books regardless of which name she's writing under.
This one felt like there should have been a pre-quel. If I hadn't read her other books (Arcane, Dreamlight, etc) I think I would have felt like something was missing.
The characters needed to be fleshed out more, however, am looking forward to the other books in the series.
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 was never 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 too...
A Victorian romance with paranormal elements, Crystal Gardens is a nice, easy read for summertime. Evangeline appears to be a paid companion, but a recent attempt on her life has her new neighbor, wealthy Lucas Sebastian, thinking there must be more to her story. When she escapes to his mysterious garden, she shares some of her secrets and he takes her under his protection. Strong secondary characters and the irritation Lucas feels when members of his family start showing up make this more than just an average romance novel. The banter between the leads is delightful.