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REVIEW: Dark Light by Jayne Castle

Dear Ms. Castle:

book review >I haven’t read all your Harmony stories but I admit to enjoying them quite a bit even though, at times, I have felt like they were futuristic lite. Maybe I was just in a good mood when I read this one, but the story worked for me this time.

Sierra McIntyre, daughter of the wealthy McIntyre family, moved from Cadence to Crystal City in order to leave behind a somewhat checkered past and lay low. Sierra got a job as a tabloid journalist and becomes intent on exposing the Guild secrets. The Guild is an order somewhat akin to a feudal type system. The Guild has financial power and military might via the ghost hunters that are part of the Guild. At the head of a Guild is a Guild Boss who has climbed to the top via physical might or political prowess or a combination of both. The newest Crystal City Guild Boss is John Fontana. Sierra is granted an interview of Fontana to investigate the Guild and the suspicious death of the Guild’s previous boss.

Fontana has investigated Sierra because her tabloid exposes about the Guild actually hit very close to the truth. She knows something about a Guild run drug operation and he needs that information. He wants her to join forces with him to ferret out the distributors/suppliers. When he meets her, a sense of urgency strikes him and he recognizes in her something that connects fiercely with his own core. He tells her that she can get exclusive but only if she enters into a Marriage of Convenience.

Sierra can’t deny the magnetism of Fontana nor can she turn away from the opportunity to obtain information regarding the secret Guilds. As with any drug operation, though, there are individuals who don’t want their money stream to be cut off which means Sierra and Fontana must be eliminated.

Before I go into any analysis of the book, let me first admit that I have complained in the past couple of weeks about the sameness of some of the books I’ve read. Certainly, these Castle novels and all Quick/Krentz/Castle books feature a similar formula with mostly the same protagonist archetypes. I’m not sure I can articulate why one book from an author works and another does not. For example, my response to Ghost Hunter was so apathetic, I had no desire to read Silver Master, last year’s Harmony release. After reading Dark Light, though, it encouraged me to look in my TBR to see if I had Silver Master.

This is standard Krentz fare and for long time readers of Krentz, they’ll recognize Sierra as the familial misfit. Her family is quite wealthy and all very successful. Sierra, however, has flitted from job to job, not finding the right niche until she comes to the tabloid. Fontana is related to a powerful family too, but he is the bastard and therefore an outsider in a different way. The attraction that Sierra and Fontana have is instantaneous and identified with the help of their psychic powers. Perhaps these psychic powers are akin to the wolf true mate theorem.

I’ve had some dilemma as to assessing the world building. At times, it feels that the paranormal details seem to be more of a backdrop even though there it is implemented at nearly every stage such as the social structure, to use of colloquial epithets, to customs and nature of the individuals. It is, like the JD Robb series, more really a futuristic culture based on human/earth mores than an entirely new and different world.

It’s hard to grade this book. It’s competently written, entertaining, with a tight plot but very little character development. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of growth in the writing, i.e., I’ve read this book since the early 90s under titles like Sweet Fortune, but the book was a quick read. If I had never read a Krentz book before, I think I would grade it a B-.

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Lori
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 12:45:06

    I don’t know if it makes any sense but one of the great things about a Jayne Ann Krentz book is her formula. The heroes are cut from the same cloth, all alpha with dark pasts and sizzling sexuality. The heroines can hold their own however and are smart and feisty and help in their own rescuing. The plots aren’t after-thoughts and even if you figure them out, they’re still an engrossing read.

    JAK was one of the reasons I wanted to write romance. She combines humor, heat and story in an excellent mix. And even if you know each story will bring a lot of the same elements to it as others you read, they’re solid elements in just damned good writing.

    Oh dear … do I sound like a fangrrl now?

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  2. Angela James
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 13:12:00

    I don't know if it makes any sense but one of the great things about a Jayne Ann Krentz book is her formula. The heroes are cut from the same cloth, all alpha with dark pasts and sizzling sexuality. The heroines can hold their own however and are smart and feisty and help in their own rescuing. The plots aren't after-thoughts and even if you figure them out, they're still an engrossing read.

    Yes. That’s exactly why I still keep buying her books and a few other old favorites.

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  3. vanessa jaye
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 13:29:36

    Lori nailed it on the head. JAK/AQ is a comfort read for me, and I have many of her books on my keeper shelf that I re-read every year or so. On the other hand, I tried not to read her books back to back because of the strong similarities in the H/h archetypes.

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  4. Jessica
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 16:30:56

    I read 1986s Sweet Starfire, because I read that it inaugurated the futuristic romance genre (is that true?). I liked it, but it didn’t stay with me. I moved on to her other books, picking out the highly rated ones like Paradise, Trust Me, and Deep Waters, and I agree completely with Jane’s review and Lori’s comment. Despite a somewhat distant tone and formulaic quality, the writing is good enough and the plots are strong enough to keep me reading until the end.

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  5. Heather
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 19:56:47

  6. SusanL
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 03:51:35

    JAK/JC is a comfort read for me. I know there is a sameness to her books, but in her case it doesn’t bother me. She writes books I like to read.

    Anyone else remember Shield’s Lady? I wish she had written more books in that world. I need to dig that out for a reread.

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  7. Bev(BB)
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 10:10:13

    I personally tend to think that what Krentz accomplished was to create the first “wallpaper” futuristic romance. Which is not a bad thing.

    Okay, you know, I don’t personally like the term “wallpaper” and never have. I don’t see why we don’t make a theatrical set as opposed to movie special effects comparison instead and leave time period eras out of it completely. Because that’s what we’re really talking about here. The choice of degree of set complexity.

    And that’s what she did.

    The attempts at futuristics that had come before hers in the romance genre had gone too far in trying to set the stage. They’d overdone the “effects” if you will. The readers, who might have been interested in sci-fi leaning romance but weren’t in truth used to that heavy an influence in their stories, were simply overwhelmed by the “special effects” of the books that did come out.

    She simply backed it up a bit and made her books have stage dressing instead of drowning the reader in overstimulation. What you end up with is something familiar and comfortable but still different enough to be interesting. In fact her futuristics are the only books I regularly buy of hers nowadays unless some strong reader recs come out for a particular contemporary or historical.

    Oh, and Shield’s Lady is absolutely still my personal favorite of all time of hers. I think it always will be. Quintessential Krentz. Prototype Castle. Superman & his mate. What more could I want? :D

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  8. Anne
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 16:59:30

    I have been reading JAK books for over 25 years which sadly means I am older than I would like to be:) I started reading her when she wrote categories and I have kept most of her books because I love to go back and reread books. Her formula remains the same but it is something I still enjoy even though I have changed as a reader.

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  9. joanne
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 17:24:20

    Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick/Whatever has always been an auto-buy for me and her books are sometimes hit and miss, more hits then misses though. Her Historicals are all on my keeper shelf.

    I don’t think she can write a ‘bad’ book simply because she is so good at her job… if that makes any sense. Some just flow better and this was, to me, a good entry in the Harmony series.

    I do have to say that a few weeks past reading Dark Light and the hero has slipped from my memory but Elvis, the dust bunny, lives on to give me a smile.

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  10. MB
    Sep 08, 2008 @ 11:45:09

    Psychic powers as a plot are never very interesting to me, but I do read Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick consistently. For me they never score very high on my personal enjoyment rating, but they aren’t bad either.

    I admit I was actually enjoying this book more than most in the Jayne Castle series. (Some of them have been pretty bad.) But this one, in the interaction between the characters was pretty cute. And I always like the dustbunnies so this one who is evidently a reincarnation of Elvis or thinks he is (not sure) was kind of cute.

    So…I was reading along, thinking this one’s not too bad until I got to the end when I almost threw it against the wall! What got me, was when the main character was stalked by the bad guys and “forced” into a vehicle at “futuristic weapon” point. I just wanted to scream! Every woman, by now, should know that you should NEVER EVER get into a car with your rapist! This is a huge point in all of those self-defense classes. Don’t you think a woman in the future should know better? I do! I hate this plot point and am so sick of it recurring in all these romantic thrillers. It is right up there in annoyingness to me with the trope of the woman being stalked by the mad-serial-killer who leaves her cell phone uncharged.

    Please, authors, don’t insult my intelligence with these stupid recurring behaviors by your female characters. I like women who are smart and save themselves. I prefer to read those kinds of characters.

    Okay, thanks for letting me rant. I feel better now :-)

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  11. allison
    Sep 08, 2008 @ 13:56:39

    I just finished this one and quite enjoyed it. The Jayne Castle books might be formulaic but, in the end, that’s one of the reasons I buy them. I know what I’m getting in to and when I need a read that’s a promised enjoy, I’ll go for one of these.

    That being said – I hated that all the major plot points were stumbled upon. There wasn’t much figuring out which is a plot/point that I would have liked to see. I’d like to see the protagonists puzzling it out and maybe getting it before it’s forced upon them.

    And Shield’s Lady? Oh man do I wish she’d write more in that world. It’s a book that I’ve gone through multiple copies of because I read it so often.

    ReplyReply

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