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Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick
(Jove, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-5151-5299-9
While there is not much new and different in the storyline, readers will not be disappointed by Crystal Gardens, the first book in The Ladies of Lantern Street series by Amanda Quick, if all they are seeking is a comforting read.

Someone is trying to kill Evangeline Ames. She decides to travel to the countryside to escape the memory of the attack. The owner and landlord of her new home is away, so she has taken to exploring the rather interesting gardens on the property. When another attempt is made on her life, she escapes to the gardens and runs right into her new landlord, Lucas Sebastian. He came to Crystal Gardens when he learned of his inheritance of the estate from his uncle who died of a heart attack. Lucas believes his uncle died under more mysterious circumstances than what was reported to him and has set out to find out what really happened.

Lucas' uncle performed many paranormal experiments on the vegetation in the gardens, rendering them beautiful but deadly after sundown. Someone is after the source of the paranormal activity in the garden and Lucas intends to find out whom. After he rescues Evangeline, he realizes that he can use her detective skills to help him solve the mysterious death of his uncle. Evangeline can use Lucas' intuitive sense about the criminal mind to find out who is trying to kill her.

Danger lurks on the grounds of Crystal Gardens. The paranormal energy emanating from the plants and stones within the gardens make them treacherous to navigate at night yet that is exactly what Lucas and Evangeline must do to solve their respective mysteries. The sparkle of the stones in the moonlight is not the only thing lighting up the gardens. The energy between Evangeline and Lucas is electric. Can these two find the answers that they seek in time to save themselves?

Crystal Gardens is not quite up to the standards one would expect from this seasoned author who also writes paranormals under the names Jayne Castle and Jayne Ann Krentz. The pacing in this offering is a bit slower than usual because of all the backstory needed to set up the series, and the story is not much different from what Amanda Quick usually writes. Heroine Evangeline Ames is the intelligent, strong, independent woman that readers expect from Quick's novels. Lucas is the typical misunderstood wealthy member of the ton.

Unfortunately, what made this book difficult was the passages describing paranormal energy and/or talent. The description took me right out of the story and focused instead of the scientific information presented, which was not terribly scientific to begin with. The dialog between Evangeline and Lucas during these times felt forced and made the story far less enjoyable than other books she has written.

3 hearts - good in the moment but forgettable.

--Christine Sharbrough

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