Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Love those Dust Bunnies!

Jayne Ann Krentz is a prolific author whose work under her two pen names is just as well known as her own. She writes under three names so that when people read a book of hers, they know what type of book they are going to get: she writes contemporary fiction under her own name, historical romance as Amanda Quick and fantasy/sci-fi romance as Jayne Castle. I highly recommend all three styles to any romance reader. She is very quirky and often makes me laugh out loud.

Her Jayne Castle books all take place on the planet of Harmony - a world that was colonized by humans when a vast energy curtain opened between the two planets two hundred years prior to the time of the novels. Unfortunately, the curtain closed as suddenly as it opened, cutting off the route back to Earth and forcing the colonists to make do with the resources at hand. No longer able to replenish supplies from Earth, they were forced into a dark age and had to develop new technologies and social structures to insure survival. They created settlements in the shadow of cities once inhabited by the long vanished alien race that once lived on Harmony. However, in addition to building their civilization, the people themselves started to evolve with a variety of psychic powers. At the time the stories take place, many different types of psychic abilities have been acknowledged and people are tested to see what level of ability they possess. Every so often, a person is found with psychic strength that is off the charts or a talent different enough to make most people uncomfortable. Usually these are the characters we get to know in the books.
Also playing a starring role in the Harmony novels are members of one of the planets native species, a fuzzy little predator the humans call “dust bunnies” because of their resemblance to big blue-eyed balls of dryer lint. The creatures are actually efficient omnivorous predators that form some kind of psychic bond with humans of their own choosing, only displaying their second set of eyes and their sharp little teeth when danger is near. This is pretty handy for their companion humans, who need only keep the bunnies well supplied with human snacks and some bling.
So if you’d like to indulge in a romance set in a wonderfully atmospheric alternative world setting, visit Jayne Castle’s Harmony. Just don’t step on the dust bunnies.
After all, they say by the time you see the teeth – it’s too late...

Dark Light
by Jayne Anne Krentz

Paranormal Romance

The Premise: Crystal City’s Ghost Hunter Guild has a new boss, and tabloid reporter Sierra McIntyre wants to know what he’s going to do about the retired Hunters who have been disappearing off the streets. John Fontana, the new boss, has a bigger problem: someone murdered his predecessor and he’s got a hunch that a lot of high ranking Guild members are into some pretty shady dealings. That leaves him with few in the organization he can truly trust and one very attractive reporter raising the kind of questions that could get her killed. Sierra may write for a tabloid and her editor may have an obsession with the aliens that once inhabited Harmony, but Fontana senses she is on to something big and probably drug related. She has sources on the street that he doesn’t; he has the resources to keep her safe along with some access to inside information from the Guild files. He also finds her tremendously attractive on every level – physical, mental, and psychic. So in spite of the fact that Fontana knows that Sierra considers the Ghost Hunters Guild no better than a bunch of mobsters, he makes her an offer she really can’t refuse: marry him and not only will she get an exclusive on his Guild clean-up, he’ll through his considerable power behind finding out what’s happening to the missing Hunters. Since what he’s offering is not a “til death do you part” deal, but instead a one year legally sanctioned Marriage of Convenience, Sierra takes him up on it. Seems Fontana is not the only one feeling a tug of attraction. Besides, Sierra’s companion dust bunny, Elvis, seems to like the new Guild boss, and everyone knows that dust bunnies are excellent judges of character. Now the honeymooning duo just needs to root out an intra-Guild conspiracy, convince their family and friends that they’re madly in love, figure out who is snatching retired Hunters off the streets, keep Elvis clothed and fed in the style to which he has become accustomed, find out who or what is masquerading as fish-headed aliens, and determine whether the new type of light energy whispered about in the back alleys of the Old City is for real. Piece of cake.

What I liked: Love the dust bunny – that’s a given. I also liked Sierra; she’s the kind of imperfect heroine that really appeals to me. I also got a kick out of Sierra’s alien obsessed editor. I really enjoy the setting as well. I think the author does a great job of creating a world that is fantastic in some ways yet completely believable in others. Castle remains consistent in everything from Harmony’s laws of physics to its social mores.

What I didn’t: I enjoyed the brief glimpses I got of both the main characters’ families, and would have liked to see more of them, but that would have required a much longer book.

Overall: This is fun and a really quick read. There is a nice balance of paranormal, suspense, and humor. If you enjoy the author’s Arcane Society novels (written under the names Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz) you’ll enjoy Dark Light and the other books set on Harmony.

Reviewed by Macaire and Michele

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