Jove, March 2004
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
Science Fiction Detective Romance
In this sequel to AFTER DARK, Lydia Smith and Emmett London have only been lovers for a few weeks. It has been long enough for them to know they want to be together, but not long enough to work out the rough spots. One such rough spot occurs when Emmett unexpectedly becomes acting head of the Cadence Hunters Guild. Emmett is one of the strongest of the "hunters," people who can call, control, and destroy the clumps of psi energy known as "ghosts". Lydia is a "tangler". Her psi talent is to sense and defuse the psychic traps left by the race who formerly inhabited this planet, which humans call Harmony.
Tanglers and hunters are expected to work as a team, but several months ago, the pair of hunters who were supposed to be guarding Lydia ruined her rising academic career. They claimed the reason Lydia was seriously brain-burned in the catacombs under Cadence City was because she disobeyed their warnings. Lydia’s memory is starting to come back, and she is sure they are lying.
Is Lydia’s investigation somehow connected with the sudden power vacuum in the Hunters Guild? She and Emmett strain their relationship in their attempts to protect each other, keep the Guild from splitting, and prove what really happened during the weekend Lydia was lost in the catacombs seven months ago. Lydia is determined to prove her accusers were part of a plot against her, and also to show the academic community that, unlike weaker tanglers caught in psychic traps, her mental damage is not permanent.
AFTER DARK, to which AFTER GLOW is the sequel, is a charming, sizzling sci fi romance. In AFTER GLOW, the emphasis is on the detective plot. Lydia and Emmett are already together, so that sexual suspense is missing. Instead they are working out the details of how to make their relationship work – inviting, but not as hot, if hot is what you are looking for. The focus is on Lydia's attempt to prove that she is a talent in her own right, not just the woman by Emmett London’s side.
We meet many of the interesting cast from AFTER DARK again: Lydia’s friend Melanie, their boss Shrimpton, Mercer Wyatt, Head of the Hunters Guild, and his wife Tamara. We are mercifully spared Professor Ryan Kelso, Lydia’s former fiancé. We are pleased to meet Charles, dress designer extraordinaire, who makes Lydia’s appearance at the Restoration Ball a true event. We hope to defeat the influence of Troy Burgis, a strong tangler who was presumed dead fifteen years ago.
The star of the show in AFTER GLOW is Fuzz, Lydia’s pet dust bunny. Dust bunnies are named that because of their appearance, but as they say about dust bunnies, "By the time you see the teeth, it’s too late." The protective Fuzz, with his psychic connection to Lydia, plays an essential part in her rescue in the glowing green catacombs.
AFTER GLOW doesn’t have the irresistible verve of AFTER DARK, but it has its memorable elements, such as the ball dress named Midnight; and the huge, whirling mother of all psi traps. For fans of the genre, Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) and the mysterious world of Harmony are not to be missed.
April 2004 Review
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