Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When Miss Evangeline Ames awakens with the realization that an intruder is in her rental cottage, the only place to which she can flee is her landlord's dangerous Crystal Gardens. Inside the Gardens, the plants themselves glow with an eerie paranormal light, and her murderous prowler does not survive the encounter. The attempt on Evangeline's life gives Lucas Sebastian an excuse to indulge his attraction to his intriguing tenant, but he does not foresee how inviting her into his home will permanently overturn his bachelor existence. Evangeline not only isn't afraid of his dark talents, she is counting on them to keep her safe. Suddenly instead of two solitary men virtually camping out in a couple of the rooms, there are servants and family members filling a whole wing of the house, cleaning everything in sight.
This was a fun, quick read, full of the usual silliness about "heated eyes" and "raised [paranormal] senses" that substitutes for the solid foundation of a romantic relationship in Quick/Krentz/Castle's books. It follows her usual formula: strong, independent (...and yet somehow vapid) woman is irresistibly drawn to the dark, tormented, but honorable (and rich) gorgeous hunk of a man whose powerful attraction to her leads him to protect her from the Great Danger threatening her life, and through their teamwork they solve the puzzle, thwart the bad guy(s), and discover how her unique talents will heal the particular damage jeopardizing his psyche.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, setting (late 1800s England) is secondary. Several semi-explicit sex scenes. (Ooh! Alliteration!)
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