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Jayne Ann Krentz

REVIEW:  Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz

REVIEW: Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz

Note from Jane: This is the first review from our new paranormal reviewer, Amy. I know DA has been lacking in the PNR reviews so I sent out a bat signal and Amy, a long time DA reader, emailed me with interest. I think Amy will be a great fit for our blog. Initially she will review two PNRs a month.

Dear Ms. Krentz,

You are the first romance author I ever remember reading. I spent a good chunk of my teen years devouring your books (and your pseudonym’s, Amanda Quick), hunting them down at my local library and bookstore. You were my “gateway author;” because of your books I discovered the romance genre and became a romance reader. In fact, I think the beginnings of my affinity for the rainy Pacific Northwest and Seattle started with your books. Yet, after college, for some reason, I stopped reading your work. I have a vague sense that maybe I started finding your stories a bit predictable, but oddly enough I can’t remember the exact reason.

Dream Eyes (Dark Legacy #2) by Jayne Ann KrentzIt’s hard to find a paranormal romance without vampires and shifters (which I enjoy, but have often lately underwhelmed by) and when I discovered you were writing new work in the genre, I decided to pick up Dream Eyes, which is apparently the third book in your Dark Legacy series.

Gwen Frazier sees ghosts, or rather, visions that are actually a form of lucid triggered by the psychic residue left behind in by scenes of past violence. Despite her talent and job as a psychic counselor interpreting other people’s auras and dreams, she oddly enough, treats the ghosts as unwelcome hallucinations. When she finds her old mentor Evelyn Ballinger dead and laptop missing, Evelyn’s ghost convinces a strangely reluctant Gwen that further investigation is needed. Considering Gwen’s long-term friendship with Evelyn, and that two years ago, Gwen stopped a psychic-seeking serial killer (who met her at one of Evelyn’s research studies) in the same small town, you would think there would be more suspiciousness or call to action. Instead, Gwen’s reaction is “There is nothing I can do.” It’s the ghost that reminds her she can hire a paranormal investigative firm, run by her friend-like-a-sister’s fiancé.

Judson Coppersmith is the paranormal investigator assigned to Gwen’s case. He had met her earlier through mutual friends and had been immediately drawn to her “witchy green-and-gold eyes” though was turned off when he realized she saw him as a potential client – “vulnerable and in need of her professional expertise.” [16] He’s clearly a man’s man, who doesn’t feel that he needs help from anyone, even though his talent is experiencing the emotions of a murderer in a place where someone is killed, [86] which, as he admits, leads to nightmares. The additional fact that Judson has been experiencing his own recurring nightmares as a result of escaping a murder attempt by long-time colleagues makes him even more skittish of treating Gwen as anything other than an employer.

It’s pretty clear from the beginning that Gwen is the Reluctant-heroine-who-cannot-possibly-see-herself-as-unique-and-special-even-though-she-is-a-unicorn. As the mystery unfolds, we learn that not only did Evelyn leave everything in her will to Gwen, but she built a huge special machine in the basement of her house specifically tailored to Gwen’s abilities. Further emphasizing Gwen’s specialness is that the discovery that murderer might be linked to Gwen’s distant past as an orphan who attended a school that tended to attract the psychically enabled. It’s no surprise to learn that Gwen becomes a target for the killer, which of course, brings out Judson’s protective instincts.

Though Judson is definitely an alpha male, he is, thankfully not of the ultra-possessive, demanding, claiming-a-mate type that we so often see in other paranormal romances. Instead, what we have here is a modern alpha male who is told that the way to Gwen’s heart is to show respect and admiration for her talents. You can’t knock a hero who does that.

What I liked about this was the slow build of attraction between your protagonists. As the two spend more time together, they have long conversations where they learn more about each other. Gwen and Judson always thought before they spoke, verbally dancing around each other in almost a courtly manner. But the talking was also a bit of a drawback; there was A LOT of talking and explaining, particularly with backstory, and pivotal action scenes that happened offscreen.

The mystery was a bit convoluted and confusing, and the reveal of the murderer’s identity was less shocking than it felt like it should have been. The reliance on the long Villain Monologue at the end to connect all the seemingly random dots felt kind of lazy.
[spoiler]In fact, the reveal of the murderer as one of the minor two bit characters that we barely spent anytime with seemed to be a bit of a copout.[/spoiler] But, for me, the main problem with this book was that the protagonists felt like copies of your heroine and hero from previous stories, even after more than a decade-long hiatus. We have the Reluctant-heroine-who-is-special-and-psychically-attuned as well as a hero who is intelligent, protective, and afraid to be vulnerable. Though they are unique individuals, to this former JAK-auto-buy reader, they don’t feel that way. We even have a similar setting, the rainy Pacific Northwest, with casual references to a restaurant’s “typical Pacific Northwest menu that ran the usual gamut from salmon and Dungeness crab.” [61]

I liked this story, but I think I’ve read too much of your work. I said at the beginning that I had a vague sense that I started finding your stories predictable, but maybe the real problem was that I found them utterly forgettable.

Grade: C

Amy

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REVIEW: Canyons of the Night by Jayne Ann Krentz

REVIEW: Canyons of the Night by Jayne Ann Krentz

Dear Ms. Krentz:

My favorite thing about your books is the interaction of your main characters and your dry wit that seeps through the dialogue.  “Canyons of the Night” is set in the same world as the Jayne Castle series that involves glowing green alien artifacts, rezzed amber, and dust bunnies.  The idea behind this world is that there are different talents out there – individuals who have extrasensory skills.  Charlotte Enright, for example, can tune an artifact so that it harmonizes with the the recipient’s auras.  Slade Attridge served for a Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation but after a particularly bad case, Slade believes that he is suffering psi-blindness which will inevitably result in the death of his psychic abilities.  For a psy enabled person, that is akin to losing a limb and for Slade, who relied on his psychic abilities in his work with the FPBI, it is a compounded tragedy.

Canyons of the Night Jayne Castle Jayne Ann KrentzCharlotte and Slade grew up on Rainshadow Island. Slade was a slighter older, slightly dangerous teen who saved Charlotte one night and took her into the Preserve, a dangerous and mystical place.  Both have gone on to success. Salde achieving agent status with FBPI and Charlotte using her aura reading talents to ferret out some of the best antiques.  Fifteen years later, they reunite on Rainshadow Island where Charlotte takes over her deceased aunt’s antiques shop and Slade takes up the interim sheriff position at Rainshadow for 6 months until he goes psi blind or recovers.

Initially, they embark on an affair, knowing that it is only temporary.  In classic Krentz style, the first sexual encounter is a bit disastrous.  I don’t know if there is an author who does a better job of using sex for comedic effect.

There is an overweaning feeling that Charlotte and Slade are destined for each other.  At one point, Slade thinks that Charlotte’s return to Rainshadow Island  is as if she waited for him, a forgotten child raised in the system.   I wished for more character development.  In fact, one of the biggest problems I have with this blend of paranormal and contemporary is that I feel time that could have been spent on character interaction, witty banter, and development was spent on the world itself.  Sadly, the world isn’t one in which I have a keen interest.  Yet the characters themselves keep me coming back.

The pacing of the story is a bit slow.  The first half introduces us to Rainshadow, hooks Slade up with a fatherless boy, and displays the charming nosiness that occurs in small towns while the latter half is devoted to a suspense plot involving Charlotte which allows Slade to put his investigating and sheriffing skills.

HANK LEVENSON TOSSED THE HEADLESS, TAILLESS FISH onto the scale. “Lot of expensive Amber River salmon for one person to eat. Planning on sharing with the dust bunny? I can always sell you a smaller piece of the salmon and give you some cheap bottom fish for Rex. Doubt if he’d know the difference.”

Slade leaned one arm against the glass display case and contemplated his options. There was no point trying to finesse the situation. The news that he’d had dinner with the owner of Looking Glass Antiques would be all over Shadow Bay by tomorrow morning, no matter what he did.

 

The other issue was that this was advertised as Book 3 in a trilogy. That means, to me, the book should wrap up all the loose ends.  Instead it reads like a set up book for further arcane books. For instance, the mystery of the Preserve is never fully revealed and it is clear that there are more stories to take place which will involve the Preserve.  This isn’t to say that I don’t want more arcane books but just that I thought Book 3 signalled the end of a trilogy.  C+

Best regards,

Jane

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