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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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Amy

Amy is a feminist who never realized how much she would love being a stay-at-home mom (at least for now). She reads everything, but has a particular fondness for anything with speculative elements and romance. Her favorite authors change with the seasons but most recently include Ilona Andrews, Kristin Cashore, and Laini Taylor.

19 Comments

  1. library addict
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 08:13:41

    Yay, a new paranormal reviewer.

    This book worked a lot better for me, but I can understand why it did’t work for you. Just FYI, this one is actually the second of her Dark Legacy books. Copper Beach was the first. The third book will be their sister’s story.

    There is a predictabilty to her books over the past decade or so. But I enjoy her breezy writing style, so she’s still on my autobuy list. I consider her books comfort reads.

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  2. Kati
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 08:22:55

    Welcome aboard, Amy! It’s awesome to have someone who will review PNR for Dear Author.

    I haven’t read this one, but agree with you that the latest round of vamps and shifters have become tiresome. I look forward to reading your reviews!

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  3. Shelly Thacker
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:00:41

    Jane, will Amy be added to the list of reviewers on the “Submit your book for review” page? I have a PNR (100% vamp- and shifter-free!) that I’d love to submit for her consideration. :)

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  4. Jane
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:00:47

    My sentiments toward JAK is much like library addicts. I love her works, but acknowledge they are tremendously predictable. I appreciate the review, Amy (and not just because DA sorely needs a PNR reviewer). It’s hard for a long time fan to articulate exactly what is and is not working and I think your review does just that. Welcome aboard!

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  5. Sunita
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:12:41

    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.

    I LOL’d at this and startled the dogs. I am so stealing it for my reviews.

    Welcome, Amy, great review! I have really missed the PNR reviews. Even though I don’t read much in the genre, I like to know what’s out there.

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  6. Morgan
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:29:09

    Yay! PNR reviews! Thank you for this review.

    It’s the ghost that reminds her she can hire a paranormal investigative firm, run by her friend-like-a-sister’s fiancé.

    Just based on this alone I think I’ll skip this book. I can forgive things like “Say, Bill, isn’t your best friend a theoretical physicist?” convenience (seriously saw this in a Twilight Zone episode), but forgetting that there’s a paranormal investigator (practically) in the family? No.

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  7. Jayne
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:44:16

    “long Villain Monologue” – I hate these and what you reveal in the spoiler would drive me nuts. Welcome aboard, Amy!

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  8. cleo
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 10:06:05

    Great review. JAK was my gateway author too, along with Jude Devereaux. I outgrew JD a long time ago, but I still read JAK – although she’s no longer an autobuy author for me, more like a check out from the library when I need a reliable comfort read author.

    I was wondering about this one, so I’m really glad to see the review. I enjoyed the previous book, Copper Beach, more than I expected to. I thought it was a return to her earlier style, after years and years of the Arcane series (which I am so sick of). Every time I think I’m done with JAK for good, she comes out with something that reminds me why I liked her in the first place.

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  9. beccadi
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 10:26:14

    JAK is like crack for me. I recognize her imperfections – it’s clear by this second book how the third book is going to come out, for example (not the plot so much as the relationship). And I don’t much care for PRN: vamps and shifters just don’t do it for me. But I eat up JAK, and her alter ego Jayne Castle (not so much Amanda Quick, though; I find the writing sytle in those to be too precioius for words).

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  10. Rosa E.
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 11:11:51

    Oooh, a new PNR reviewer! Fantastic! And I’m glad you reviewed this; I’m a huge paranormal reader and was thinking about buying it. Now I think I’ll skip it. It sounds a little too been-there-done-that for me.

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  11. Amy
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 12:04:51

    Thanks for the warm welcome everyone!

    @library addict: I picked this up kind of hoping that JAK would become a comfort read author but in the end, it was just too predictable for me. I might still recommend her to new-to-romance-genre readers though.

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  12. Dabney
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 12:30:15

    Great review. I, like Sunita, don’t read much PNR but I love reading reviews of it. This one was fun. Thanks!

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  13. DS
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 13:11:46

    @Jayne: I’m more a mystery reader than a romance reader these days and that is one thing that makes me absolutely crazy.

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  14. BrandyJ.
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 15:42:50

    Like library addict JAK (in all her pseudonyms) is a comfort read for me and most of her old books remain on my keeper shelves. I liked this book, but wondered why the heck the villain came out of no-where when we were barely introduced. I also enjoy reading a paranormal that didn’t involve shifters, vampires or others, a rarity these days. JAK has said that her next book with be straight-up romance. A harkening back to her older books.

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  15. Jenny Schwartz
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 18:12:39

    I’m another who treasures JAK for her comfort factor — and for her dust bunnies when she writes as Jayne Castle :)

    Thanks for the review, Amy.

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  16. Merrian
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 19:29:24

    Thanks for taking on the PNR Amy and for a great review that highlights why when I try a JAK book I always think that I never need to read another one because they are all the same

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  17. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 21:30:21

    Amy, welcome to Dear Author. It will be good to see more paranormal reviews here.

    I enjoyed Dream Eyes, but I’ve been noticing the same thing you have about the H/H in Krentz’s recent novels. The lead characters and their romance tend to feel a bit formulaic. That said, it’s a formula that still works for me — not great literature, but a fun read, something I can whip through in a few hours.

    Coincidentally, I will be posting my own review of Dream Eyes next week, probably on 2/18. I’ve already written the review, or I would have waited to read yours — I try to avoid reading other people’s reviews before I write, so I’m not influenced by what they thought. Anyway, I hope you’ll stop by and take a look!

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  18. Bzangl
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 21:54:32

    I thought Gwen was almost a carbon copy of the heroine in Falling Awake – partly because the both go on and on about Context.

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  19. Belle
    Aug 08, 2013 @ 10:58:48

    Great review. She’s one of my favorite authors, but I have to agree with the C grade. I recently read some of her older books and could barely put them down. This one I forced myself to finish. The mystery felt like a repeat of many past stories, too.

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