It’s been a while since I read Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick). And, while I didn’t expect her to have changed, I wondered if her formula still works. Just because a book is derivative doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable, right? Well, if you’ve read AAR before, then you’ve probably read this review. Nothing has changed.
You’ve got the strong woman and strong man who more or less become instantly attracted to each other. Heroine and Hero work together to solve a mystery. People try to kill them. Heroine and Hero have life-changing sex that was never like that before. People try to kill them. Repeat impromptu sex in a different location. Insert various other POVs. Villain appears out of left field and is defeated. Hero and Heroine celebrate with more sex and mutual understanding of having fallen in love despite never expecting it for themselves. Happy ending ensues.
And then because this is Jayne Castle, all this takes place on a futuristic planet called Harmony, jazzed up with psychic abilities and all sorts of psychic events. Heroine rides a motorcycle and has a cutesy-poo dust bunny with psychic abilities, and both heroine and hero come from a long legacy of psychic ancestors (see previous Krentz/Quick/Castle books relating to the Arcane Society, and especially first two books in the Dreamlight Trilogy).
You may well criticize me for reducing a story to its bare minimum, and I’ll take it. To me, that’s all this was. I was unmoved, untouched, uninterested, and, crikey, is that disappointing. Ms. Castle shuns any form of character depth in favour of her tried-and-true archetypes, focusing instead on a lackluster mystery and lots of psychic woo-woo that made my eyes roll. Aside from being kind of corny, the paranormal elements provide a very handy character cop-out. After all, it’s easy to say they’re mutually attracted if their psychic fields resonate, right?
And because it’s all so predictable, any spark of suspense gets sucked out. The villain is so left-field I spotted him the moment he appeared. I’ve read the sex before and, because I have no handle on Marlowe and Adam as people, I didn’t care. I don’t even have the consolation of Ms. Castle’s trademark wit, because it’s not there. The only saving grace was Gibson the dust bunny, and even he was too stereotypical to enjoy past the moment.
So, no, I’m not recommending Midnight Crystal. If you were considering an introduction to the Krentz/Quick/Castle canon, then check out her earlier stuff, which was still formulaic but at least had life. This takes a formula just too far.