REVIEW: Dark Light by Jayne Castle
Dear Ms. Castle:
>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-.