Crystal gardens

 Evangeline Ames has escaped from London to recover from a recent attack and get some inspiration for her writing. Having some psychic abilities, she is drawn to the town of Little Dixby, where paranormal energy leaches from the nearby Crystal gardens. When circumstances force her into the Crystal Gardens at night, the owner Lucas Sebastien cannot ignore her and the danger she faces. Having some psychic ability himself he recognises it in Evangeline and finds himself intrigued and drawn to her in a way he has never been to any woman before.

I have never read anything by Jayne Ann Krentz before in any of her guises (I believe she writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle too) but I enjoyed this one as it combines my three favourite genres – history, romance and paranormal, whats not to like? Being set in Victorian England made a nice change for me as the historical novels I usually read are set earlier than this. There was not as much historical description as I would have liked, but there was enough to get an idea of how things would have been.

The story started with a bang – no gentle lead in, and as such it grabbed me immediately. The author was also quite clever with how much she gave away; I actually had to check this was not the middle of a series as initially it felt like I had missed huge chunks which would have been described in a previous book. It soon became clear however, that this was Krentz’s way of making sure I did not put the book down, because I needed to know the answers! As the story unravelled we gained those answers but maybe not in as much detail as I would have liked.

While the main characters had psychic abilities, there were no paranormal creatures like vampires and werewolves. There was of course suspicion surrounding psychics which I imagine was very appropriate to the time period, but I did find it strange that neither character delved into the others abilities more, and also that the other members of the village seemed to accept it.

Lucas and Evangeline were likeable characters, Lucas clearly had a darker side and it would have been nice to have seen this teased out a bit more but we did gain enough insight into his past to get the gist. This book was much more about the romance than the sex – but never fear there was a small dose of sex to whet your appetite!

In summary an enjoyable story with a good dose of romance and mystery, I would have liked more detail and depth to both the characters and the story, but this may well have lengthened the book to the detriment of the fast paced plot. As it is, it is easy to read, the plot is not so complicated that your brain hurts but it has enough facets to keep you interested.

This is the first in a new series and I will definitely be looking to read the next ones.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
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Fired Up

Jack Winters is a direct descendant of Nicholas Winters, infamous obsession driven Alchemist.  Believing himself to be the recipient of the Winters family curse, Jack needs to find his ancestor’s lamp and a woman who is a strong enough Dreamlight reader.   Those two things could be the only way to save him from insanity and death.  Chloe Harper tries to stay under the radar of the Arcane Society, like most in her large and diverse family but finds herself caught up when she is hired by Jack for two things.  To find the Burning Lamp and with her dreamlight talent, help save him from the curse.  Soon on the trail, she finds that they are trying to evade the Nightshade organisation as well as the Arcane Society and will have to make a choice who to trust.

Fired Up technically follows on from Running Hot but focusses on two new characters.  I do like it when authors do this, it makes their world seem so much bigger.  I thought it was a very nice touch that Grace and Luther were mentioned in passing so I got to see that they were doing well.

The story in Fired Up was just as engaging as Running Hot and I loved the new characters of Jack and Chloe.  They worked really well together and the tension between them was built right from the start as a small spark of possibility.  I also liked that both of them were competent and confident, no ‘struggling weak heroine needs rescuing by big strong man’ and more than a match for each other. It felt like there was a slightly larger cast of minor characters but they didn’t feel minor when they appeared, they were just as compelling and well rounded as the main cast.

The character who I should have mentioned before that links these two books together, is Fallon Jones.  He’s the head of the J&J detective agency that works for the Arcane Society,  and at first I thought the story was going to be leading in a different direction for him but I am glad it didn’t turn out to be so, as he’s a great character.  His little event at the end made me laugh and want to applaud, and I do hope that story will be told soon.

Coming into the series late hasn’t been much of a hindrance and other than missing references to brief mentions of history, these books can easily be read out of sequence.   I also didn’t realise that Jayne Ann Krentz has used the Arcane Society in stories from historical fiction, to modern and then to futuristic under different pen names.  She writes as Amanda Quick for the historicals, Jayne Castle as the futuristic ones and of course as Jayne Ann Krentz for these excellent modern stories.  I definitely need to catch up on those!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)