I’ve never had my palm read or called the Psychic Friends Network, and I always side with Scully on the X-Files, even though Mulder always ends up being right. So I wondered how I was going to react to Rainbow Moonglow, the psychic heroine of Sue Civil-Brown’s novel, Chasing Rainbow. I ended up liking Rainbow and the hero Jake, just fine. Unfortunately the book is teeming with secondary characters and a ghost plot, both of which threaten to over-power the romance.
When the residents of the Paradise Towers Condominiums notice odd, supernatural happenings in their homes, they call in Rainbow Moonglow, a respected local psychic. They figure Rainbow can discern whether the place is haunted, and who the ghosts are. After visiting the condos in question, Rainbow decides the Towers are haunted for sure – with friendly ghosts who are trying to get a message through.
Jake Carpenter, the newly elected president of the condo association, is dubious of Rainbow’s abilities, and gets off on the wrong foot by calling her a fraud. But something is clearly afoot, and Jake and Rainbow agree to join forces to see if they can get to the bottom of the strange events. As they work together, their attraction to each other grows, despite their obvious differences. When large pieces of furniture start sticking to Jake’s ceiling, he is willing to concede that only supernatural forces can be responsible. His confidence in Rainbow’s abilities rises, but before they can be together they must find out what the ghosts are trying to tell them – and learn to trust each other completely.
Jake and Rainbow are very likable characters in a fun opposites-attract plot. Jake is a petroleum engineer who has traveled the world, and has trouble believing in anything besides science. Rainbow is confident about her psychic abilities, but wary of most people. She is used to being shunned as a fraud, even by people she initially thought she could trust, including her former fiancé. I enjoyed watching sparks fly between these very different characters. The style is somewhat akin to that of a Jayne Ann Krentz in her contemporary mode, and there are some humorous moments here.
Unfortunately Chasing Rainbow is also full of secondary characters – a little too full. The residents of the condominiums are mostly elderly, and many of them add to the humor of the book. But there are so many of them that it’s hard to get to know any one character. Their presence could have been used more effectively if their numbers had been reduced. Similarly, Rainbow has three of her relatives visiting her at once, and things get a little crowded. Her sister Dawn is a promising character, but the questions raised about her are never answered. She simply gets lost in the crowd.
Early on in the book, the ghost plot line is pretty fun. I especially liked the furniture on the ceiling. Later, however, the whole thing starts seeming a little silly, and by the end of the book the ghosts and the secondary characters push the more interesting romance plot into the background.
There is also a time-line nitpick. Rainbow claims she was conceived in a free-wheeling commune during the early seventies. Then Rainbow’s mom shows up and announces that she is seventy three. That would put her at about forty-five in 1970, which seems a little old to be cavorting around in communes and conceiving children. Then later Rainbow refers to herself as thirty-something, which can’t be right either. People born in 1970 are just turning twenty-nine this year.
Chasing Rainbow does have some enjoyable characters and humorous moments, and JAK fans especially may like it. I wouldn’t rush to the bookstore, however; the overwhelming secondary characters really do make the primary romance take a back seat.