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Silver Master
by Jayne Castle
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-515-14355-3
***
Silver Master is the fourth (well, fourth and a little bit more thanks to a short story installment) in the Harmony series by Jayne Castle, the futuristic fantasy pseudonym of prolific author, Jayne Ann Krentz.

If you’re familiar with Harmony and the previous books, that will help, but the basic scheme is that Harmony is a distant planet in the distant future, settled by humans, but later sealed off from all contact with earth. The residents have psychic energy talents to one degree or another.

Celinda Ingram’s talent is that she can read paranormal energy waves. To her these patterns are as distinctive and individual as faces. She has used this talent to build a career as a highly regarded professional matchmaker. (Getting a spouse via a matchmaker is the preferred method over the haphazard way of finding one’s own mate.)

When she declined to take on Benson Landry as a client because she sensed a darkness in him, he took his revenge by publicly ruining her and threatening her entire family. She closed her business in Frequency City and moved to Cadence City where she is working for a matchmaking business.

Davis Oakes is providing security for one of the powerful Guilds. Celinda immediately gets the impression that he may be her Mr. Perfect. The day before Celinda had purchased a relic, a red plastic handle, at an antique shop. Her dust bunny Araminta had brought it to her attention and been insistent that Celinda buy it. Davis proves that it rightfully belongs to the Cadence Guild. When Celinda agrees to turn it over to Davis, Araminta grabs and hides it. Davis is going to stay close until Araminta produces the relic again.

Celinda has become the target of certain unknown, unsavory elements, but Davis, who has his own unusual psi talent, saves her. Davis had been rejected by a former fiancée because of his unusual talent and fears that Celinda will react in the same way. (Of course, it’s inevitable that Celinda will be made of tougher stuff.)

Celinda has family obligations and cannot remain in Cadence City waiting for the dust bunny to return the relic. Her sister is getting married in Frequency City, and Celinda is going to be a bridesmaid in the pink wedding. Davis, who has his own dust bunny Max, will accompany her as her supposed date, but things will become more complicated ... and dangerous ... when she returns to Frequency City.

It’s inevitable that the hero and heroine in a romance, wherever and whenever it is set, will end up together in the end. Nevertheless, the romance in Silver Master is subordinate to the plot, the psi talents, the rezzing, the Guild business, and even a hungry dust bunny. Character development is minimal – anyone who has read a Jayne Ann Krentz romance will recognize Celinda and Davis as stock characters. She’s intelligent, a little eccentric but loyal to a fault; he’s powerful, laconic, and somewhat solitary. Romance between them is a forgone conclusion.

Silver Master is a satisfactory addition to the Harmony series, but it fails to rise above the level of acceptable – this is standard JAK fare. It’s not a disappointment, but few, if any, readers are going to get very ‘rezzed’ over it.

A word of caution: the book does not stand completely on its own in spite of a brief author’s introduction into the Harmony world and culture. Readers who are interested in the series are advised to begin with an earlier title.

--Lesley Dunlap


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