AFTER DARK
Jayne Castle


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Jove Publications, Sep 2000
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Sci Fi Romance

Lydia thinks she has found a rich client who will get her consulting business off the ground. Emmett thinks he has found a professional outcast with connections to the criminal underworld. They are both half wrong. But in the world of Harmony, where ancient dead cities are riddled with ancient paranormal booby traps, each one has found exactly what they need – a partner with talent to burn.

Emmett is in the city of Cadence tracking an irreplaceable family heirloom, and enlists the help of Lydia as his psychic archaeologist. When the search becomes far more dangerous than he expected, he tries to fire her for her own good. With mixed feelings he finds that the determined Lydia isn't going to let go of this lucrative contract. Emmett wants to protect her, but he needs her skills and admires her lively beauty and character too much to reject her. Instead, he moves into her apartment as her bodyguard. Together they fight off rogue ghost-hunters, treasure hunters, and political opportunists, and Lydia proves that she is too tough to be beaten by her traumatic past.

Readers familiar with author Jayne Castle will be looking forward to the skyrocketing sex scenes that contribute to the development of this relationship. Lydia and Emmett, like other couples created by this author, have completely believable personal issues that are better solved by working together; and the motivation of superb sex forces them to face the issues, however reluctantly.

The occasional third member of their team is one of the most appealing, tantalizing alien house pets I've ever read. We want but never get a good look at Fuzz, partly because it is so hard to imagine a six-legged animal that looks like a dust bunny. Fuzz is an irresistible combination of intelligent predator and domesticated critter, reason enough in himself to reread the book.

Readers of Jayne Castle’s Lost Colony books will recognize her skill at building a complete world to exactly the degree she needs it, leaving the mind of the reader to fill in the surroundings that are unnecessary to the story. What is needed is shown to us completely in every living detail. For example, there is a ghost-hunter duel between Emmett and two illegals. We need to understand the action, but Lydia doesn't understand it completely herself, and Emmett is too busy to give us his viewpoint. Castle creates a bystander ghost-hunter, Durant, to give commentary. She makes Durant just the kind of self-satisfied slob you hope you don't run into at your Saturday night hang-out, then she turns him into the comedy relief, and finishes off by giving him the wary admiration of Emmett that she wants the reader to have. Castle has turned a plot necessity into an asset.

It takes a rare author to handle a futuristic setting with this much charm and inventiveness. AFTER DARK is a book not only to save and reread but to give to friends. Jayne Castle's true name is Jayne Ann Krentz. Under her own name her contemporary romances are perennials on the New York Times Best Seller list. She writes historical romances under the name Amanda Quick, and has also written serial romances under several pen names. Like most of the Lost Colony books, AFTER DARK is a stand-alone set on a world that was cut off from Earth shortly after colonization. AFTER DARK was my introduction to this author, and ever since, I have made a determined effort to track down as many of her other books as possible. If you like romantic adventure in a unique setting, don't miss this charmer.

Aug 2000 Review, Original Version Published on Romance Communications

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