Saturday, August 27, 2011

Early Review of Jayne Castle's Canyons of Night

Title: Canyons of Night
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle
Publisher: Jove
Formats: Mass Market Paperback and eBook
Source: Purchased
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of Jayne Ann Krentz in her various pseudonyms ever since my Mother-in-Law shared some of her Amanda Quick books with me, and I’ve really enjoyed her Paranormal Romances written under the name Jayne Castle. So I was thrilled when I saw her newest book, Canyons of Night (Book Three of the Looking Glass Trilogy), at Target last night, especially since it’s not being released until Tuesday, August 30. I managed to snatch up a couple of other new releases at the same time, so you’ll be seeing a few reviews in the next couple of days, assuming I don’t decide to actually do the work for which I am paid, namely, teaching Spanish. And while Canyons of Night feels a little short, it was a pleasant return to the world of Harmony and the Arcane Society.

The book takes place on the island of Rainshadow and begins when three young tourists out for a ride decide to harass 15 year old Charlotte Enright. She’s an awkward girl with horribly nerdy glasses, but she manages to fight off her attackers until 19 year old Slade Attridge shows up and scares them off. Charlotte has a major crush on Slade, who’s the ultimate loner, and she’s thrilled when he agrees to show her parts of the Rainshadow Preserves after her ordeal. The next day he leaves to join the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation, and Charlotte vows that the next time they see each other he won’t be treating her like a kid sister. Jump to fifteen years later and Slade is back on the island, as is Charlotte. Slade’s burned out from his job with the FBPI and working as the island’s Police Chief for 6 months until he can get his security firm up and running. Charlotte has just moved back to the island herself after inheriting her eccentric Aunt Beatrix’s para-antiques store, Looking Glass Antiques. When the body of a man who was stalking Charlotte in Frequency City appears in her store, Slade senses that his death is not from natural causes and begins an investigation. In the course of the investigation, the two begin an affair and must deal with their fears about their psychic abilities while putting off a few busybody neighbors.

I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Krentz’s writing, and it’s like coming to home to read one of her books. You can count on her having likeable characters and interesting plots, and Canyons of Night is no exception to that rule. Even if you haven’t read any of her other books set in the world of Harmony, you’ll easily be able to follow along. However, while I very much like the book, I do feel that this is the weakest book in the Looking Glass Trilogy, mainly because it is so short. It’s only 325 pages long, and you can really tell the difference between this and earlier books set in Harmony, such as my favorites After Dark and Silver Master. While the older novels may have a similar number of pages, the font is noticeably smaller and there is less space between lines, yielding more text and therefore allowing for more development of characters and plot.

As for the romance between the hero and heroine, Slade is a sexy alpha male and Charlotte is one of Krentz’s trademark quirky heroines. They clearly share a connection from their experience in the Rainshadow Preserves nearly 15 years ago. The two definitely set off sparks, but the romance follows the formula of Krentz’s recent books. Like several of her other newer heroes, Slade’s had a violent change in his psychic abilities that he fears will end in madness, while the insightful heroine manages to help him learn to accept and deal with the changes in his life. But Krentz does a good job of selling us on this formula, and I enjoyed their romance, despite hoping for more development.

As in her other books, the mystery is tidily resolved, but in this particular novel I could spot the villain a mile off, which was somewhat disappointing. The resolution of the conflict between Charlotte and the villain struck me as familiar as well, reminding me of how the heroine in Fired Up! , the first book in the trilogy, manages to extract herself from dangerous situations.

Another niggling complaint has to do with the title of the book, Canyons of Night. The phrase refers to a term that Slade uses to describe the lakes in the mysterious Rainshadow Preserves.  I’m a bit conflicted about the use of the Preserves in the book, because they’re featured prominently in the story but our questions about them are never answered. I’m not sure why this was chosen as the title, since the actual mystery in the text doesn’t have anything to do with the Preserves. Several different characters venture into the forest at times and much is made of the fact that most who enter never return or return forever changed. However, the answers to the mystery of the Preserves is clearly intended for a future book. That we never learn about the danger that is clearly developing within the Preserves is a bit of a let-down.

All in all, I enjoyed returning to the world of Harmony and the Arcane Society, especially since we get to meet a new dustbunny, Rex, who likes to carry around an antique beaded clutch he stole from Charlotte’s store. Reading Canyons of Night is like catching up with an old friend, but I would have liked to see more development of Charlotte and Slade’s characters. They’re likeable but, because of the length of the novel and the somewhat formulaic nature of their romance, easily forgettable.

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