Castle Krentz Quick

By | July 2, 2014

Jayne Ann Krentz publishes under her married name (Jayne Ann Krentz), her given (maiden) name Jayne Castle, and and her pen name Amanda Quick.  Her Krentz novels are in the murder mystery / thriller / romance genres with a contemporary setting – often the wine country north of San Francisco.  Many of the lead characters in her contemporary novels have psychical abilities and in the remaining one or both of the leads are strong intuitives.   Her Jayne Castle novels are set in the future on another planet with emigrants from Earth with psychical abilities and her Amanda Quick novels are Regency romance / mystery / thrillers, usually with paranormal (psychical) elements.

Related posts: Adult Paranormal Fiction, Adult Mystery and Suspense, Paranormal Romance Novels, Thriller Romance Novels, Contemporary Romance Novels, Sci Fi and Fantasy, and Regency Romance Novels.

Books by Jayne Castle

Rainshadow Island series other books set on Harmony

Written by Jayne Ann Krentz under the pen name Jayne Castle.    Read the series in order to pick up the continuing thread of clues and slow uncovering of the alien antecedents to Harmony’s human settlers, and to avoid spoilers – though since the spoilers mostly relate to each novel’s central romance and since those are pretty obvious there’s not much spoilage.

Per Wikipedia (and Jayne Ann Krentz’s site) the Ghost Hunter series (set on Harmony) consists of:

  1. “Bridal Jitters” in Charmed (1999) and Harmony (2000)
  2. After Dark, 2000 and in Harmony (2000)
  3. After Glow, 2004
  4. Ghost Hunter, 2006
  5. Silver Master, 2007 (first mention of Arcane Society on Harmony)
  6. Dark Light, 2008
  7. Obsidian Prey, 2009 (ties in with Arcane Society series)

Midnight Crystal

Midnight Crystal (third in the Dreamlight Trilogy) may be read independently of the other novels in the Dreamlight Trilogy.  Like the subsequent Rainshadow Island novels, the cover of the US paperback edition features a mid-twenties, attractive, white woman dressed for action (including at least one item in black leather) in a tough chick pose – but we only see her from her shoulders down to somewhere above her feet.  Contrast this to the covers of the last four novels in the Ghost Hunter series each of which features a white man of similar age, attractiveness, attire (though typically more chest baring), and pose to the women – but instead cropped from the waist down with the head fully visible.  Which view is more objectifying?  Is it just a bid to save time and money since the headless women are (presumably) cheaper to produce?  Are the majority of the series’ readers white women whom the novels’ marketeers initially assumed would be attracted to a visual of a strong but silent guy who could then star as pictured in the women’s fantasies based on the novel but whom in reality prefer to develop their own images (hence the shift to ‘insert-(white-)face-here’ women on the covers)?  Or were those marketeers trying to build (white) male readership (assuming that the women would be drawn to the series through Krentz’s other series) by playing up the (male) adventure story element in the male images?

In the realm of the outward portrayal of women in the series, a inner statement by the hero upon first meeting the heroine (on page 2 of Chapter 1) struck a jarring note.  The narration of his first impression states “Objectively speaking, she certainly qualified as attractive, but she lacked the bland symmetry of real beauty.”  My first issue with this statement is that beauty is (erroneously) equated to sexual attractiveness; my second is the illogical connection of blandness with beauty (real or true).

Studies have shown that full-facial symmetry – at least in modern Western cultures amongst college student test subjects – is correlated to sexual attractiveness… though a study which showed a strong correlation of attractiveness ratings of full-faces to those of vertical left or right hemi-faces and another which correlated sexual attractiveness to skin health (including evenness of tone) based on a patch of skin call into question the dependence on facial symmetry.  Since the raters in the full-facial studies were presumably mostly heterosexuals in their peak reproductive years and since the biological basis for sexual attractiveness is a potential sexual partner’s ability to produce healthy offspring, one would expect that one’s biologically driven definition of attractiveness would change after leaving the peak reproductive years.  A study of variations in a woman’s ratings based on her hormonal cycle lends credence to this notion – presumably because outside of fertility peaks a woman is biologically wired to be more concerned with a potential mate’s contribution to nurturing offspring into adulthood than with producing those offspring.  Do homosexual and heterosexual men in their late twenties similarly rate the sexual attractiveness of other men in their late twenties?  Of other men in their late sixties?  Of women in their early twenties or early fifties?  Does it matter if a subject presents as straight or gay?  And how strongly do those ratings correlate to those of homosexual and heterosexual women in their early twenties, early thirties, and late fifties?  And to male raters in their late sixties?

The advent of very realistic computer generated (CGI) people and increasing awareness of heavy photoshopping, surgical enhancements, and/or makeup tricks cause ‘nurture’ to send override signals to our ‘nature’ responses.  A standard CGI avatar is perfectly symmetrical; while such images are pretty they are also a little off-putting because they are eerily unnatural – we are getting reprogrammed to reject perfect because it’s a fake.  Likewise those who are biologically wise downgrade the ersatz-looking for the biological hazards that may be lurking under the perfect exterior.

I agree that perfect facial symmetry is bland – most artists don’t depict faces head-on and prefer subjects with slightly to very uneven features in order to avoid such blandness.  The Mona Lisa is case in point.  But I disagree that the blandness that arises from perfect symmetry is reason for such symmetry’s attractiveness and I particularly disagree that real beauty – a lasting aesthetic pleasing irrespective of the age or sexual orientation of the beholder relative to the subject as opposed to a fleeting youthful prettiness – is based in blandness.  As further refutation of beauty in total symmetry we have the beauty mark.  Ironically, Cindy Crawford, who’s often cited as an example of facial symmetry, has a beauty mark – a naturally occurring mole just above the left corner of her lips… i.e. a very noticeable feature on only one side of her face.  She would look quite odd with such a mole symmetrically located on the right side of her face.

Past the first few pages of Chapter 1 we have a story heavier on political machinations (within the local Ghost Hunter Guild) and detective work than on Aliens and world saving – and the latter two elements are plot conveniences that are rather summarily dealt with while the former are – along with the critical dust bunny element – the most engaging parts of the story.  This shift in balance makes this novel stronger than some of the later Rainshadow novels which sometimes have noticeable flaws in the scientific underpinnings of the Aliens’ technology and the humans’ paranormal abilities – understandably it’s much easier to write about the very well-known motivators greed for power and desperation for life.  Overall this novel gets a rating of four out of five dust bunnies.

Canyons of Night

Canyons of Night is the third novel in the Looking Glass Trilogy and the introduction to Rainshadow Island.  Because the hero and heroine met and parted (on a good though somewhat wistful note) while in their late / mid teens, Rex, the hero’s dust bunny buddy (not pet), gets to do the meet-cute honors.  The romance part of the story is a little eye roll inducing as they (the human pair) have to get over their mental (and psychical) baggage before they can commit to each other emotionally but fortunately Rex and the mystery part of the story run in parallel at a good clip – and the baggage is sufficiently unpacked in the first third of the novel to keep the story moving.  The resolution of the novel was satisfying – and the villain was unexpected.

Dust bunny folklore and notable quotes:

  • “They said that with dust bunnies, by the time you saw the teeth it was too late.  The bunnies were cute when they were fluffed up but under all that fur lay the ruthless heart of a small predator.”
  • Dust bunnies love zucchini bread and energy bars – but they are omnivores.
  • A dust bunny’s normal state is fluffy fur and baby blue eyes; in hunting mode or when sensing danger a dust bunny ‘sleeks out’ and his / her amber, second pair of eyes opens.
  • “…’if you throw an object he goes after it.’  ‘What does he do with it?’  ‘He kills it.'”  “She tossed the [small, yellow rubber] duck into the back room.  Rex leaped to follow.  There was a thump.  Several increasingly faint, desperate squeaks could be heard.  Eventually there was silence followed by much gleeful chortling.”
  • Dust bunnies like to play in water.
  • Dust bunnies have night vision.
  • Dust bunnies aren’t bothered by psi energy.
  • Dust bunnies are like magpies: they both collect bright shiny objects – crystal is “the psychic version of dust bunny catnip”.  Rex’s version is an antique crystal-beaded evening clutch purse.
  • Dust bunnies are shoulder riders – though it’s not stated if they have a left shoulder preference.

Other notes: Early on there’s a reference to a Takashima knife.  In real life Takashima is a Japanese brand of whetstones.  The (fictional) Harmony explorer Damian Cavalon is likely not a reference to the Galician-Asturian word ‘cavalon’ which meant ‘old horse’.  Is the acid-green psi glow of Alien quartz on Harmony akin to the Emerald City in the Oz stories?  With their hot reds and yellows and psi greens, Jasper Gilbert’s paintings of Rainshadow Island sound reminiscent of David Hockney’s contemporary paintings.  Most of the incidental full names are probably contest winners and the like.  The reference to a Greenleaf safe is probably tied to Sargent and Greenleaf, “a world leader in medium and high security locks and locking systems for safes and vaults” since 1857.

Lost Night

Lost Night is the second story set on Rainshadow Island but can readily be read before or after the others in the series.  The resolution of the conflict with the bad guys seemed a little pat and occurs quite rapidly at the end of the novel.  The interaction between the hero and heroine was zesty – but it was the heroine’s dust bunny companion Darwina who really made the story.  Now, though English Angora rabbits were used in the Harmony book trailer videos, the proper Earth-analogy is Birman (cats): totally cute, beautiful blue eyes, scruffy and fluffy, carb addicts, and ferocious hunters when roused.  (Okay, so the last point may be more figurative than literal – the feline equivalent of Jack Russell Terriers but with less coordination.)

Deception Cove

Deception Cove was very enjoyable.  The novel takes place on a different world – a series of four islands – with a lot of psi energy due to Old World aliens.  The story’s center is Rainshadow Island.  The North and Sebastian families’ ancestors made important early discoveries in one case and amassed a lot of money and power in the other.   This story in the series brings together Alice (and her dust bunny Houdini) and Drake, two with light power talents… and a lot of personality and regular human talents to back up their light powers.  There were amusing faux cultural references such as the book “Alice in Amberland” and an “Amberella doll”.  (Amber lights are used when electric power is unreliable.)  To quote “My life is starting to remind me of that children’s story ‘Alice in Amberland’.  You know, the one where the heroine falls down a dust bunny hole and winds up in a sort of alternate universe where everything is weird.”  The novel has just a couple of off-putting moments such as “She was already wet and he had not even touched her down there.”

The Hot Zone

I chuckled reading the last line of the above review for Deception Cove since there was a very similar line in The Hot Zone.  Notwithstanding the lust-overwhelms-all sex scenes, this was another fun read with the inhabitants furry and skinned of Rainshadow Island.  Fortunately the novel introduces not only a new dust bunny (Lyle) but also has cameo appearances by Darwina (with her Amberella doll) and Rex (with his antique clutch).  The quote “Something wicked this way comes” was originally from Act IV of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and then (much) later was used by Ray Bradbury to title a novel.

Books by Jayne Ann Krentz

Fired Up

Fired Up is the first novel in Jayne Ann Krentz’s Dreamlight Trilogy; the second is Burning Lamp (written under the pen name Amanda Quick) and the third Midnight Crystal (written under the pen name Jayne Castle).  Interestingly the order of the trilogy is not tied chronologically to the novels’ settings – not that it matters since the three novels may be read in any order (though it’s best read 2, 1, then 3) – and though Fired Up is the first in the trilogy and the middle one chronologically, with its contemporary rather than distant past or future setting it somehow seems to be third in the series… admittedly this may also have something to do with my having read the series in reverse order.

As close readers of The Elements of Style would know, Krentz incorrectly uses the word ‘nauseous’ instead of ‘nauseated’ in a scene near the end of the novel.  (In other words the gentleman in question was made to feel ill – nauseated – rather than transferring that feeling to others by being nauseous and thereby causing them to feel nauseated.)  This is akin to healthy vs. healthful foods (anthropomorphized foods that are feeling good vs. foods that make you feel good).

The story reads quickly – perhaps helped by the generally short chapters.  (I wonder how much thinner the book would have been if the white space for the 61 chapter endings and openings were halved.)  The climatic culminating scene was engaging… but the several (very short) subsequent chapters setting up other novels in the contemporary Arcane Society series were unsatisfying teasers; I would have preferred previews of other novels after the end of this story.

Eye of the Beholder

A deft combination of romance and thriller / murder mystery that creatively includes mystical elements and new age healing through secondary characters and the setting, ‘Harmony, Arizona’ – perhaps a fictional take on Sedona.  By having the hero and heroine remain skeptical about ‘healing vortexes’ the characters’ professional lives are more credible and the story is more accessible for non-believers (this reader included).  Also interesting are the character parallels to other novels: the tea shop owner making special blends, the antique art forger, the antique art consultant with a skill for detect forgeries, and the hard-charging businessman who’s been challenged to find a compatible life partner and who’s lately been having nightmares.  There are murders and attempted murders in this story but other than the one which precedes the novel, the victims are not particularly sympathetic (and are consequently treated a little more lightly than they perhaps should be).  The ending is satisfying – not too long in coming or too drawn out, with a satisfying HEA postscript, and without the overt setup for the next novel as with some of Krentz’s other novels.

One quibble – which fortunately occurred far enough but not too far into the story to be of much consequence: the narration of the hero’s perspective of the heroine during their first date reads “The handkerchief points of her weightless little blue-green dress floated around the elegant curves of her calves.  He had been studying the garment all evening, wondering it it was really a slip or a sexy nightgown in disguise.  It had tiny little straps and it was cut so that it skimmed over her high, apple-shaped breasts and elegant thighs.  It was exactly the sort of dress a woman could wear to descend the staircase in his new [Art Deco-themed] hotel.”  What first stopped me was “apple-shaped breasts”.  What the hell are those?  An apple-shaped body is thicker through the mid-section – and is not a compliment.  An apple-head Siamese might win awards but the wide-forehead-tapered-to-the-nose look doesn’t translate well to a breast shape.  Apple-cheeked means ruddy and healthy – but again does not translate well to breasts… and definitely doesn’t match the repeated use of the word ‘elegant’ to describe the heroine’s calves and thighs.  And finally, what does a handkerchief point slip-dress have to do with Art Deco?  For that matter, what does it have to do with elegance?  Sounds more floaty, gauzy, new-agey.

Background: The Dancing Satyr statue which plays an early important role early in the novel is real – but from ancient Rome rather than the Art Deco period of the 1930s in the US.  Icarus Ives, the sculptor of the fictional statue is likewise fictional.  Clarice Cliff teapots are indeed very collectible Art Deco pieces.  Twentieth-Century Artifact is not a real publication.  Modernist ceramics (and American moderism) and painters (Marsden) Hartley, (Andrew) Dasburg (a Cubist painter), and Georgia O’Keeffe were real (though I’m not sure why Krentz chose to reference the two male painters by only their surnames while stating O’Keeffe’s full name – especially given that she is much more recognizable by only her surname than either of the other two.

Lost & Found

Various San Francisco Bay Area settings and a resolution based more on detective work than gratuitous use of paranormal powers make this novel one of Krentz’s better ones.  When the story was published in 2001, the inclusion of an ultra-wealthy, young-but-retired dot-commer with mad hacking skills must of seemed sensible but in 2014 is pretty implausible.  Few twenty-somethings make big money off of their own startup, few have hacking skills, and few would be considered hot date prospects by pretty coeds (on the basis of looks).  The ins and outs of the high-end antique business provide an interesting context.

The chatelaine Wikipedia article includes an image of a chatelaine but the last image on the Chatelaine’s Antiques page is more pertinent to Lost & Found.

Copper Beach

Derivative of Krentz’s other novels.  Unlike her books such as Eye of the Beholder, this book’s setting – Seattle, rare-earths mining, and rare books dealers (notwithstanding the psi-locking twist) – doesn’t add much color.  Much of the story takes place on the fictional Legacy Island in the real San Juan Islands, the archipelago between Vancouver Island and the (western) coast of Washington State.  The novel refers to (the real) Friday Harbor on San Juan Island – perhaps a nod to fellow romance writer Lisa Kleypas’s Friday Harbor series?  More personal was the reference to Paul Lofgren – which may or may not be a nod to one of my childhood buddies.  Overall a reasonable read – but not one of Krentz’s best efforts.

River Road

River Road is a straightforward murder mystery with both hot and cold cases and no paranormal elements (beyond old-fashioned intuition and the hippie background of the heroine’s now-dead aunt).  The fictional Sonoma / Napa Valley Wine Country setting of Summer River hews pretty closely to the gentrification – and ‘vinification’ – of what used to be sleepy apple orchards (celebrated at the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol) and natural hot springs (such as Harbin Hot Springs) nestled in steep canyons accessed by winding ridge roads with names like Big Canyon Road.  The 40-mile, two-land rural highway route taken by the hero and heroine from Summer River to the coast could easily be Petrified Forest Road west of Calistoga which turns into River Road when it crosses Highway 101 on its way to Jenner and Sonoma Coast State Park.

There were a few minor plot holes that kept niggling at me – for example, why was the snotty rich kid afraid of and enraged at the hippie aunt?  And why didn’t the hero ask his younger brother who was much closer in age to the snot about the snot’s clique?  And why didn’t the snot target the younger instead of or as well as the older brother?  Maybe those questions are answered in another novel in that setting.

The heroine’s psychotherapy babbling was repetitive – for goodness sakes, she was only in therapy for ‘commitment issues’ for six weeks – but was not sufficient to be more than a minor eddy in the story’s flow.  The hero’s supposed communications issues was much less of problem in the story – in part because it’s hard to have a good dialog-based novel when one of the main characters is the strong and silent type.  As for the major villains, two out of three are plausible but the third, the sleeper, is pretty shaky – especially since we don’t get that characters motivation until the tell-all during the final climax.  Those complaints aside, this novel has a good balance of complex family dynamics, romantic relationship development, and psychopathic murderers.

Nitpicks:

  • The hardback cover illustration with car traveling a coastal highway (a la PCH) with water out to the horizon and waves in the foreground is misleading in that the pivotal events of the story take place off of River Road (and the fictional Manzanita Road – which could easily be the real Sweetwater Springs Road).  The hero’s observation “There hasn’t been much rain this summer.” is a silly comment given that outside of the (fortunately) rare August thunderstorm with dry lightening strikes the Sonoma County canyons don’t get rain from late June to mid-September – late summer rain is disastrous for wine grapes.  (The heavy summer fog that rolls in off of the Pacific Ocean nurtures the Coastal Redwoods by creating a relatively moist coastal microclimate but it doesn’t have much impact once it’s surmounted the rugged terrain just east of the ocean – as reflected in Santa Rosa’s 0.012″ average July precipitation.  The very different topology on both sides of the beach in Los Angeles combined with a much higher water temperature are major contributors to a very different coastal climate.)
  • [minor spoiler alert] In the same scene as the rain comment, the hero finds a blood-stained rock… talk about needle in a haystack: there’s not much difference between the color of iron-rich canyon walls and dried blood – and I find it hard to believe that the killer would have left a blood-stained rock at the crime scene and that scavengers would not have made off with the blood protein.
  • In the first sex scene (not counting the earlier instances of heavy petting) we get “She was flooding now.” closely followed by “He found the swollen little nub at the top of her sex.”  This coy wording flattened the mood for me – and I found it odd that two pages later we get “He eased two fingers inside her and used his thumb on her clitoris.”

In Too Deep

This continuation of the adventures of contemporary members of the Arcane Society though similar to the others in the series, is still an enjoyable read.  (I’ll admit to being somewhat biased by the north-of-San Francisco setting.)  For those following the series, Bridewell’s clockwork inventions are featured and the Quicksilver Mirror makes a very brief appearance.  The developing relationship between Fallon and Isabella was believable and I appreciated Isabella’s psychical strength – no blushing violet waiting for the hero and other men to provide muscle.

All Night Long

Though All Night Long is another Krentz mystery / romance set in the California Wine Country revolving around a heroine with murder in her past and present, it still manages to be fresh and engaging.  (I admit to a Northern California bias.)  Both the hero and heroine were pretty practical in dealing with their psychological issues – having both dealing with PTSD was an interesting touch.  Aspects of the ending were a surprise but were logical outcomes; my only quibble was that it a lot of pages to get to the important clues, at which point the story rushed to a conclusion of both the murders and the relationship.

The old money in the story comes from a San Francisco-based department store chain; inspiration may have come from I. Magnin, Joseph Magnin, the Emporium (and Capwell’s), City of Paris, and Macy’s San Francisco.  Presumably the “Ventana Lakes” setting is a mashup of the Ventana Inn & Spa (in Big Sur almost a 3-hour drive south of San Francisco) and North Bay Foothills resort towns such as Clearlake and Lakeport (2.5 hours north of San Francisco and 1.5 hours north of Napa).

Truth or Dare

Truth or Dare best serves those who’ve read Light in Shadow, Krentz’s prior book set in Whispering Springs, Arizona.  I appreciated seeing the characters deal with the accommodations of a relationship after the first blooms of romance have faded but I got tired of the heroine’s emotional angst over the hero’s lack of belief in her psychic powers; it takes her almost the whole book to realize that acceptance can be independent of belief.  Not one of my favorite Krentz novels.

Summer in Eclipse Bay

As an audio book read by Joyce Bean, Summer in Eclipse Bay was a little hard to get engaged with – perhaps in part due to some of Bean’s off-putting voices.  In particular, the heroine sound like she was in her eighties instead of thirties – all the more confusing because some of the side characters were seniors… and sounding younger than the heroine.  The coastal Oregon setting was a plus as was the heroine’s success at owning and operating two art galleries and the hero’s facility with writing detective stories.  Family feuds, a theft, and problematic ex-spouses provide the obstacles to the HEA; there’s little of the paranormal in this story.  Probably better if you’ve already read the other stories in the Eclipse Bay series.

Amanda Quick

Amanda Quick’s Regency romances are classified under ‘Fiction’ in the library but are also qualified for ‘Mystery’ and contain paranormal elements by virtue of the “psychical” abilities of several of her characters.

Otherwise Engaged

In Otherwise Engaged Krentz eschews her usual paranormal elements for a fanciful Regency-era murder mystery replete with Russian spies and wealthy psychopaths.  Sufficiently entertaining other than the exposition about solar power which bogged down the story in order to make a point about the British government’s short-sighted decision to pursue oil instead of solar as an alternative for coal.

Ladies of Lantern Street series

Crystal Gardens

Interesting notions of carnivorous plants run amok due to too much psychical ‘fertilizer’; the flora in Crystal Gardens reminded me of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.  The lead characters were engaging and equitably resourceful and powerful and their dialog and sex scenes were up to Krentz’s usual standards.  The other two Lantern Street investigators made believable cameo appearances – clearly they’ll have their own volumes in the series – but other side characters such as the hero’s siblings were a little too convenient and were somewhat ill-used.  The important clues were a bit less subtlety telegraphed than usual but the resolution of and payback for the various misdeeds was still satisfying – and still managed a few surprising twists.

The Mystery Woman

The Mystery Woman by Amanda Quick is a fast read with likable characters whose reactions to situations are reasonably colored by previous challenges and who allows themselves to grow – though not with undue haste – from new situations.  Within the context of Quick’s slightly parallel universe, the mystery plot is sufficiently logical.  The seriousness with which most of the characters take psychical abilities is the only consciously annoying note in the novel – characters who accept such abilities as a matter of fact is fine; constant dialog between the doubting, scientific method hero and the true believers quickly becomes tiresome.  Using psychic energy to explain the heat and urgency of their mutual attraction was okay in context – but I feel the romance would have been stronger without that crutch.

Otherwise Engaged

xx

Arcane Society novels

Burning Lamp

A sprightly read – especially if you’ve already read the connected Arcane Society stories about the descendents of alchemists Sylvester Jones and Nicholas Winters (died 1694) in late Victorian England (the late 1800s), contemporary (early 21st century) Northern California and Seattle, or future planet Harmony.  This is nominally Book Two in the Dreamlight Trilogy (along with Book One, Fired Up by Jayne Ann Krentz and Book Three, Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle) but I think that it’s best read before Book One (as well as Book Three).  Like the other novels in the trilogy, cover blurb to the contrary, the story is much more about sussing out the bad guys than ‘fixing’ the hero’s psychical problem… the latter provides the momentum for the hero and heroine to couple both figuratively and literally without spending page space on dating – an especially handy mechanism in a Victorian story bringing together a wealthy widow obviously from an upper-class background and a gentleman crime lord.  Though the story depends on a lot of coincidences, by acknowledging such (and attributing at least in part to the power of the Burning Lamp) and by employing good storytelling they are very palatable.

Quicksilver

As with Burning Lamp in the Dreamlight Trilogy, though Quicksilver is book Two in the Looking Glass Trilogy I recommend reading it before In Too Deep and Canyons of Night.  The most amusing scene in the book references a Victorian Era practice of doctors using vibrators and “therapeutic massage” to cure “female hysteria“.  The heroine and her good friend contemplate faking female hysteria to justify Dr. Spinner’s treatment with a “vibrating device” to induce “therapeutic paroxysms”.  The fictional Dr. Spinner could have been based on the real Dr. Swift who’s promotional poster read “Here is health through the magic power of fine gentle massage”.  The focus of the Arcane Society connection is via the hero who is a member of the Sweetwater family of hunters and security experts.  In this novel both the hero and the heroine recognize their psychical talents and the heroine is more resourceful and powerful than in other volumes in the series.  That said, I was not as enamored of the villains in this tale.  Mrs. Bridewell’s clockwork inventions make an appearance.  Overall middle of the pack of the Quick novels.

The Third Circle

Mesmerist Thaddeus Ware, a member of the Jones family (including Gabriel Jones, head of the Arcane Society) and powerful crystal worker Leona Hewitt (with her own ancestral history with the Jones family) work together to recover a powerful artifact and stop a killer.  I appreciated that both the heroine and hero have mind-manipulation powers and that both have the opportunity to use those powers to save themselves and each other.  The villain in this novel isn’t ever really in question but the path to the story’s end unspooled in a very satisfying fashion.  This novel is in the top tier for its supporting characters: Fog, Leona’s wolf-dog; Victoria, Thaddeus’s great-aunt with an “un-matchmaking talent” (and who appears in later Arcane Society novels); Leona’s Uncle Edward; and Leona’s friends in the Janus Club.

Vanza series

I Thee Wed

Second in the Vanza series, I Thee Wed follows past and present practitioners of Vanza, a monastic organization based on the distant island of Vanzagara (eye roll) whose adherents train in the martial arts, meditate, and learn capital ‘S’ Strategies.  There’s a little of the paranormal – but it’s supporting characters rather than the hero and heroine who believe in magic elixirs and psychical abilities.  I got stuck on one phrase early on: “…in a voice that bore a striking resemblance to a rusty razor”.  Eh???  Good red herrings but some of the plot jumps were too convenient.  The heroine was a bit too concerned with getting her reference from the hero – yawn – but overall this novel was sufficiently entertaining to be a full read.


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