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Canyons of Night
by Jayne Castle
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-515-15988-3
Today we’re featuring another Romance Reader quiz.

In the opening scene of the book, the heroine is described as: “that weird girl with the glasses who works for that crazy old lady in the antique’s store.” Your task is to identify the author.

a. Stephanie Laurens
b. Mary Balogh
c. Jayne Ann Krentz (in one of her pseudonymic modes)
d. J. R. Ward

If you chose any answer other than c, you either: 1) never took a test prep course (“when in doubt, choose letter c”) and/or 2) have a limited background in the romance genre. Because a Jayne Ann Krentz heroine is 1) not really weird but usually a little bit quirky, 2) is hundreds of times more likely to wear glasses than any other author’s heroine, 3) has a quaint occupation that provides ample opportunities for dusty corners with mysterious objects that figure into the plot.

Sad to say, Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Jayne Castle, Amanda Quick, Amanda Glass, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Bentley, Stephanie James) created a model years ago and hasn’t deviated from it much since. Her heroes and heroines are fungible — if you’ve read one, you’ve pretty much read ’em all.

Heroine Charlotte Enright is that “weird girl” who is rescued from an assault by Slade Attridge (yes, Slade’s really his name) when they’re both in their teens. Slade is leaving the next day for training at the academy for the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation. He gives her a brief tour of the Preserve, a paranormal wonderland on Rainshadow Island where Slade grew up and Charlotte has come to work with her aunt for the summer. The Preserve is protected by a psychic fence that few can pass through and survive.

At the dock the following morning, Charlotte, who is Arcane (which is some sort of group of para-talented folks) with rainbow aura talent (it’s complicated), gives Slade a knife she’s specially tuned just for him. She will not forget him in the years to come.

Fifteen years later they’re both back on Rainshadow. Slade is now the chief of police. His psi talent has been damaged so he’s had to leave the FBPI. He’s on Rainshadow until he decides what to do in the future. Charlotte has closed her antiques/collectibles store in Frequency City and moved to take over the store her aunt left to her. They’re brought together again when there’s a break-in at Charlotte’s store. Charlotte realizes the reasons matchmaking agency wasn’t able to match her with anyone is that she still has feelings for Slade. Slade is impressed with how the young girl has turned into an attractive, sophisticated woman. They begin a cautious dating relationship.

Not long afterwards Charlotte finds a dead body in her store. Jeremy Gaines had pursued Charlotte in Frequency City when he wanted to do business with her and then tried to make it a more personal relationship, but she ended all contact. Was Gaines stalking her? Who killed him?

Also figuring into the plot are Rex, Slade’s dust bunny; Devin Reed, a teen who’s just coming into his “talent” and who admires the older, cooler Slade; and lots and lots of zucchini bread.

Canyons of Night is the third book in the Looking Glass Trilogy set in the futuristic, paranormal world the author named Harmony. I’ve read both previous books, but – forgive me – I can’t remember a single detail of their plots, characters, or settings. That’s the problem with the many books by this author. She established a pattern and has stuck to it faithfully. They all start to blur.

It is plainly stated on the cover and title page that this is book three in a trilogy, but there’s an unmistakable lead-in for a follow-up book so either another series is coming or the author can’t count. I thought the apparent future hero showed real promise so even though I’ve read many many many JAK books, I’m probably going to read the next one, too.

Krentz’s books are formulaic to say the least, but they’re also comfort reads for long-time fans. So you could read Canyon because it’s an introduction to a brand-new author for you or you could read it because you’re irresistibly drawn to another of this prolific author’s books. Either way, you’ll find an acceptable romance. Just don’t expect to remember it forever.

--Lesley Dunlap

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