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review 2018-05-16 17:38
The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick
The Other Lady Vanishes - Amanda Quick

Adelaide Blake escapes from her involuntary residence at a private asylum for the insane and seeks refuge in the small Californian town of Burning Cove. Working as a tearoom waitress, she does her best in not getting noticed, but she still manages to get the attention of Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman recuperating his shattered nerves in Burning Cove.

Adelaide soon discovers Jake's nerves are as steely as hers, when he rushes to her rescue brandishing a gun, and when psychic to the stars Madam Zolanda plunges to her death, unwittingly fulfilling her own prediction of someone dying a bloody death, Jake's nerves of steel come in handy as it soon becomes apparent Zolanda and Adelaide's cases are connected.

Unlike its predecessor, the suspense in this story actually worked well. The entire plot was intriguing and rife with mystery and dangers, and what red herrings there might've been turned out to be genuine clues and connections.
I liked the mystery of it, I liked the guessing game I went through to discover who the villain is, what the possible connections were, who was pulling the strings...And I especially liked the final little twist to the well-developed suspense arc.

It's the rest of the story that lowered the rating. While the time period didn't bother me in this one, and the characters were rather well-drawn (the heroine wasn't off-putting in the least), I missed the romance element. It was there, in the story, but what we got left me cold.
I certainly wasn't convincing and came across as rushed and not as polished as the rest of the story was. Still, in the end, I sensed the seed of it, but that was all it was; the big revelation of feelings jumped the shark.

Still, the suspense saved the day.

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review 2018-02-10 16:16
Quick Thoughts: Illusion Town
Illusion Town (Illusion Town Novel, An) - Jayne Castle

Illusion Town
by Jayne Castle
Book 13 of Harmony



A new adventure begins on Harmony…

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique -- and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all.  For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband.  All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse.  The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity -- as well as other parts of her mind and body.  And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light -- and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…

Somehow, Illusion Town ended up feeling more present-day-earth-like... if that makes any sense.  The Harmony books are set in a futuristic world, on a planet in outer space with aliens and such.  And the past few Harmony books in the Rainshadow sub-series had started feeling less futuristic-spacey until about three books in, when the catacombs came back into the game.

And now Illusion Town comes around, with it's Vegas-like setting, a few references to the Arcane Society, and maybe a few instances of catacombs, and we stop feeling like Harmony once again.  If not for the presence of Virgil, the dust bunny, and the random mentions of the aliens and their catacombs, this could have been any random paranormal romantic suspense book in a present day Vegas-like city.

But really, that was my only quibble.

I liked the whole memory loss schtick, as awkward as the whole scenario was carried out.  Truthfully, it could have been executed a little bit better, but it wasn't terrible.  Watching Hannah and Elias piece their way backwards from a post psi-burn memory loss that somehow led to a Marriage of Convenience with no recollection of how they got there, waking up in a seedy motel together was interesting.  Even if the twisty reveals could have been handled a little less deliberately.

Meanwhile, another tie-in to the Arcane Society was also quite nice.  I liked having a dreamlight talent brought back to the forefront and found Hannah's dream walking skill an interesting one, though I would have liked a more in-depth look at it.  A lot of the story and the character biographies of both our hero and heroine felt a bit glossed over.  The developing bond and romance was sweet, even if not as steamy as I would have liked.

Again, I wished there could have been more of our dust bunny companion, but Virgil felt a bit left out.

Nonetheless, this is still a wonderful Jayne Castle slash Jayne Ann Krentz at her formulaic best, and I absolutely am looking forward to more in the Harmony series!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/quick-thoughts-illusion-town.html
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review 2018-02-08 16:19
Quick Thoughts: Siren's Call
Siren's Call - Jayne Castle

Siren's Call
by Jayne Castle
Book 12 of Harmony
-- Book 4 of Rainshadow



In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels.  But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets…

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death.  That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent.  He knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him...

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why.  Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows.  She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame…

This book was entirely enjoyable and entirely Jayne Ann Krentz, with her usual formulaic romance, and standard great characters.  I'm not complaining, but it DOES end up becoming a tad bit forgettable when the stories are always the same, even with a new adventure, a new addition to the ongoing series' conflict, and new developments with the overall Harmony world.

For this particular installment, I DID really like the entire Siren aspect of Ella's paranormal abilities, and enjoyed the references to "Old World" mythologies, as the characters like to put it.  I like knowing what kinds of abilities our characters possess, so even if the explanations seem a bit far-fetched, it's interesting to know that Ella's musical talent also resonates with glass and can make it... melt.

Rafe's abilities were a bit confusing, although knowing that he's lost his own, original abilities and is stuck in a psi-fever was an interesting twist.

I still love the atmosphere and the creativity of Rainshadow Island, as well as the newly discovered catacombs there.  The creation of Wonderland was quite interesting--kind of like a futuristic, alien Jurassic Park, frozen in time, and completely blue.

And then, once again, I would definitely like to see more of the dust bunnies.  While the previous installment had a wonderful appearance by our dust bunnies, I feel like this one was kind of lacking.  I mean, Lorelei was great with her powdered donut obsession, and her attachment to a wedding veil with sparkly crystals.  But she didn't really get a whole lot of story other than that, to be honest.

Nonetheless, this was still a wonderfully enjoyable paranormal, romantic suspense written by a wonderful author!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/02/quick-thoughts-sirens-call.html
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review 2018-01-29 23:36
Quick Thoughts: The Hot Zone
The Hot Zone - Jayne Castle

The Hot Zone
by Jayne Castle
Book 11 of Harmony
-- Book 3 of Rainshadow



The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island.  Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret...…

Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true.  Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick.  But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare.  Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.

And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her.  Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town.  He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow….

I've always liked how the Harmony and Arcane Society books will often interweave with each other.  And it feels like now that we have alien catacombs and ghost hunters back in the story, we've returned to the main story line of the Harmony series.  Previously, in an earlier installment's review, I'd mentioned how I sometimes would forget that these Rainshadow books were part of the futuristic Harmony world.  Because even in spite of having the alien created Preserve on the island, the first couple Rainshadow installments really just felt like a bunch of psychics on an island, during present day.

But with the discovery of the alien catacombs leading into the dangerous Preserve, as well as some discoveries of psychically evolved beasts, we're starting to feel more like the futuristic non-Earth world of Harmony once again.  And to top it off, we're bringing back the Joneses and including a descendant of Arizona Snow--a character we met briefly in two previous Arcane Society books--who was known to be a bit eccentric with some conspiracy theories.

And... for some reason, while we continue moving forward with our new Rainshadow discoveries, I also found that this book felt a little suspiciously like a mish-mash of ideas.  There's the Halloween setting, and then the small town "we take care of our own" dialogue.  Then there's the strange, crystal blue alien Jurassic Park in an unknown sector of the alien catacombs, with singing predators and a lead-in to our next book in the Rainshadow series, Siren's Call.  Because now we want to explore this unknown territory, but it'll be hard to do so when alien bio-engineered dinosaurs can sing you to your death.

Once again, I always love the inclusion of the dust bunnies, and am glad that we get to see more of them, and that Sedona's dust bunny companion, Lyle, gets to save the day a few times.

I'm so ready to move onto the next book to see what develops next... and also a little concerned that the series seems to be coming to its end.  Unless, of course, Ms. Castle still has some ideas in the works and we've just yet to see another published book yet... pretty please?



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/quick-thoughts-hot-zone.html
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review 2018-01-25 04:19
Quick Thoughts: Deception Cove
Deception Cove (Rainshadow, #2; Harmony, #10) - Jayne Castle

Deception Cove
by Jayne Castle
Book 10 of Harmony
-- Book 2 of Rainshadow



In the world of Harmony, Rainshadow Island is home to a mysterious preserve, secrets that have been kept for centuries, and a treasure worth killing for...

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident.  But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm.  Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode...

Deception Cove continues the Rainshadow conflict, picking up where The Lost Night left off, with the search for the last two crystals, and well as figuring out what's causing the Preserve to become so psi-hot, as our characters put it.  The entire community of Rainshadow is in darkness with the electricity being affected, and no outside resources able to land as the psi-hot atmosphere is causing dangerous travel.

Drake Sebastian and Alice North were both mentioned from the previous book, and it was pretty much a gimme who the main couple would be for this following installment.

Despite being the same typical romance formula that Jayne Castle is known for, I found that I really loved this installation of the series a lot.  I think it mainly has to do with the atmosphere and the setting.  In a sense, it kind of reminded me of some video games I used to play, where your game character travels to an unknown land and ends up trapped there until you can defeat the big boss of that level.  Meanwhile, there is no electricity, and you must solve the conflict by speaking with the mysterious in-game inhabitants.

I mean, that wasn't the plot of this book, in particular, but we still have that "stranded on an island" feeling, with no electricity, and our main characters must resolve the conflict to save the day.  Work and plan by day; get indoors and away from the mysterious hallucinogenic fog by night.  A very intriguing synopsis, indeed.

Meanwhile, I really DO love a lot of the new developments that keep popping up in this long-running Harmony series.

If there is one thing about these books, however, that kind of make me roll my eyes, it would be the deliberate pop culture references by our characters.  Someone always brings up some real-time present day thing in these books, which are technically historical to them.  But it feels both amusing and a little tacky at the same time.  I'm not saying I don't enjoy them--they bring a little bit of strange humor to the books--but they feel awkward as well.

Meanwhile, I'm still a little confused about a few psychic abilities, and am trying really, really hard not to slam on the whole "psychic recognition of your one true love" thing.  It's quite obvious that each couple's set-up for the past few books is bringing the "psychic compatibility" thing as part of the romantic attraction.  Why can't we just have a "getting to know each other" romance without bringing the whole "psychically compatible and meant for each other" theme into it all?

Last, but definitely not least, Houdini made an exception dust bunny addition to our book, even if his presence felt a bit lacking.  Once again, I wished we could have seen more of our dust bunny friends, as Darwina, from the previous book, gets a little bit of book time, though not quite enough.

Nonetheless, a very enjoyable experience!



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/quick-thoughts-deception-cove.html
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