zaterdag 16 oktober 2010

Jayne Castle – After Dark

The second book in the Harmony World series, published in 2000.

After Dark

Dear reader:

Life is tough enough these days for Lydia Smith, licensed Para-archeologist. Seriously stressed out from a nasty incident in an alien tomb, she is obliged to work part-time in Shrimpton’s House of Ancient Horrors, a very low-budget museum. She has a plan to get her career back on track, but it isn’t going well. Stuff keeps happening.

Take the dead body that she discovered in one of the sarcophagus exhibits. Who needed that? Finding out that her new client, Emmett London, is one of the most dangerous men in the city isn’t helping matters either. And that’s just today’s list of setbacks. Here in the shadows of the Dead City of Old Cadence, things don’t really heat up until After Dark.

If, like me, you sometimes relish your romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, welcome to Lydia and Emmett’s world … the rules are a little different here …

Yours very truly, Jayne Castle.

Jayne Castle has created a very strange world for us to enjoy. Human colonists have settled on Harmony, a world behind a Curtain. But unfortunately, the Curtain has closed almost immediately, and the colonists are trapped. The world has previously been inhabited by aliens, and their artefacts are worth a lot of money. Those artefacts are protected though, by traps and ghosts. The people have developed strange powers during their two hundred year old colonization of the planet. Using amber, they can focus their psychic energy, and use it to do olmost every mundane thing. From opening a lock, to cooking, to starting a car. Only the most gifted among them are able to disable the traps, made by Illusion rez, or vanquish the ghost, who are really dangerous and could mentally fry a person.

Lydia is one of the Para-archeologists and a very strong ephemeral energy para-resonator, or tangler. When she became lost in the catacombs six months ago, and lost a whole weekend of her memory, she also lost her job at the museum, as her bosses thought she has lost it. The psychologists certainly thought so, but Lydia doesn’t agree with them. There is nothing wrong with her, perhaps just a little bit stressed, but she won’t break!

So to support herself, she has taken a job in a second rate museum, and is trying to find private clients, so she can go back to the catacombs to do the job she loves most. And then there is Emmett London, trying to hire her. They set of on the wrong foot, as Emmett thinks she is involved in the theft of the artefact he wants her to find for him. A family heirloom from old Earth, which she thinks highly unlikely. It probably is just early colonist.

But the intrigue continues, the family heirloom was not stolen, but borrowed by Emmet’s nephew, who pawned it, and sent Emmett the ticket for it. But the nephew and his girlfriend have disappeared, and Emmett wants to find them too.

When Lydia finds out, Emmett is not only a very powerful Ghost Hunter (a species she despises, as she blames her own bodyguards – ghosthunters for her lost weekend) but the ex-guild boss of the neighbouring city, things get exciting. How can she trust him, and work with him, when he cannot tell her everything about the job? Part of it is Guild business, and that will always stay secret. The guild polices it self after all.

Then the Guild boss of her own city asks Emmett to dinner, to discus business with him, and perhaps give him their only lead. The intrigue deepens, as Emmett was once engaged to the new wife of Mercer Wyatt.

Some one is trying to chase Lydia of the case, by threatening her with ghosts. Luckily Emmett is there to save the day (or night), and he is determined to protect her as much as possible as she won’t stand down or break their business contract. So he sleeps on the couch in her little apartment, kept company by her dust bunny. Soon people begin to think they have an affair, especially her former almost boyfriend from the university. The same one who fired her when he though he could no longer use her scientific papers to boost his own name in the academic world.

So far, the missing heirloom has caused the death of a close friend of Lydia, who left her his retirement fund. A unique vase of dreamstone, immensely valuable, and the key to were to find more. Is it also the key to find his missing nephew, and the traitor in the Guild?

Trying this book again, I cannot imagine why I didn’t finish it before. I could not remember a single detail, and was truly captivated by the story. I liked both characters a lot, as well as the secondary characters who were Lydia’s friends.

Emmett keeps making mistakes by not telling Lydia everything, and of course she won’t trust him. But there is that enormous attraction between them, and soon they have to act on it. And no, it is more than the energy buzz after rezzing a powerful ghost. That only lasts for about half an hour, and Emmett wants Lydia for good. Now to convince her of that fact …

Yes, a very good story, I really enjoyed it, and will continue with the next book in this series. As usual, I like the world building, the characters, the humor, and affection between the main characters. The lovescenes were few and short.

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