|Dark Light is the most recent installment in Jayne Castle’s continuing paranormal Harmony series. Colonized by people from Earth, Harmony is another world somewhere far, far away in the universe. The colonists were completely cut off from Earth several generations ago, and the citizens of Harmony have created new traditions and practices to reflect their different conditions. Prior to the colonists’ arrival, an extinct civilization founded long, long ago by earlier inhabitants – whom the colonists call aliens–had flourished on Harmony. Left behind were vast underground tunnels and chambers, even a rain forest. It’s all very otherworldly and mysterious.
Journalist Sierra McIntyre has come to interview John Fontana, the new chief of the Crystal City Ghost Hunter’s [sic] Guild. Sierra works for a tabloid whose usual reporting is in the “Woman Pregnant with Alien Child” sensational vein. Sierra, however, is a serious journalist whose reporting has brought some legitimacy to her paper. She is presently concerned about the disappearance of former Guild men who have become addicted to ghost juice, an illegal drug. She disapproves of the power centralized in the Guild but is hoping Fontana will share her concern and look into the situation. Fontana, a real take-charge guy, proposes she marry him.
Fontana tells her he thinks her interest in ghost juice and its growing threat jeopardizes her safety. A marriage of convenience, as opposed to the more lasting Covenant Marriage, will allow him to provide protection for her as they work together. Sierra agrees to marry Fontana even though she knows her traditional family will disapprove. Sierra had recently broken off an engagement when she became aware that the man only wanted to marry her because of her powerful family connections. She is now focusing solely on her career.
Sierra’s closest associate is her dust bunny Elvis – a companion, she is careful to say, not a pet. Elvis is a fuzzy Elvis-impersonator with appropriate props and costumes and the source of countless lame Elvis jokes.
Sierra and Fontana will delve further into ghost juice trade and the mysterious disappearances while simultaneously discovering their marriage of convenience could prove most convenient.
Jayne Castle is the pseudonym prolific author Jayne Ann Krentz, who also writes historical romances as Amanda Quick, uses for her futuristic romances. Dark Lightfollows the classic JAK formula: bright, efficient heroine with a quirky name gains the instant interest of the intense, slightly mysterious hero and together they’ll soon be investigating something dark and menacing.
The Harmony series has gradually built on each succeeding novel with a few continuing characters making occasional cameo appearances, but it’s not necessary to have read earlier books in order to understand what’s going on in Dark Light. Moreover, the author herself has written a brief preface explaining Harmony so any newcomers won’t get lost.
Dark Light breaks no new ground and relies on stale jokes when the plot lags but is likely to satisfy the author’s legions of fans. The three-heart rating indicates it’s acceptable – neither especially good nor especially bad – but it is a light, easy read. For those fans who have been awaiting the next Harmony installment, that’s probably good enough.