Sunday, October 10, 2010

Light in Shadow & Truth or Dare (a Two-Fer!)

Light in Shadow and Truth or Dare by Jayne Ann Krentz

Light in Shadow -- Hiding behind an expensive, black-market-created identity, Zoe Luce has built a successful interior design business in Whispering Springs, Arizona, and hopes that she has just as successfully buried her past. She can't ignore her unique psychic abilities, however, and when she walks into a new client's bedroom and hears the walls scream and moan, she knows something terrible has happened in the house. Did her client murder his wife? She's determined to find out, but investigating a possible murder is beyond her expertise, so Zoe turns to Ethan Truax, a private detective new to the small Arizona community. Solving the murder of the businessman's wife is a piece of cake for Ethan compared to the complicated enigma that he finds in Zoe. Mysterious nightmares haunt her and when a would-be blackmailer is found dead, Zoe's past inexorably collides with her new life, threatening their dreams of a future together.

Truth or Dare -- In her latest paranormal tale, Krentz takes up the story of psychic interior designer Zoe and private investigator Ethan, who met and fell in love in Light in Shadow. They are now working to create a successful marriage, but different events in their pasts keep interfering with their hopes for wedded bliss. Still haunted by his brother's murder and his own pursuit of justice in that case, Ethan expects Zoe to dump him, just as his previous three wives did. Zoe is plagued by memories of her imprisonment in a private psychiatric sanatorium, as she unexpectedly encounters psychic "spider webs" clinging to several places she has recently visited. As Ethan and Zoe struggle with their pasts, both become caught up in the dilemma of Zoe's friend, Arcadia, who fears that her ex-husband has returned from the dead to settle an old score.
--Light in Shadow and Truth or Dare by Jayne Ann Krentz, Copyright ©2004 by Jayne Ann Krentz, published by Jove Books

My Review

Light in Shadow -- Zoe Luce moved to Whispering Springs, Arizona to begin a new life as an interior designer. Focusing on fung shui and other design theories that focus on the balance and flow of energies in a room, she’s building a reputation for creating interiors that compliment the homeowner’s personal needs and harmonies.

When she walks into a new client’s bedroom, the walls begin screaming at her. Literally. A terrible act was committed in the room and, once she has a chance to talk about it with her good friend, Arcadia Ames, she decides to take action. She hires private investigator Ethan Truax to find the client’s wife (who claims his wife left him and they’re in the process of a divorce).

Ethan is a bit suspicious about Zoe’s reasons for hiring him, but takes the case and investigates. When all the evidence points to murder, Ethan demands the truth from Zoe.

Zoe manages to evade most of Ethan’s questions. After all, she’s not ready to confess that she’s a genuine escapee from an insane asylum, committed against her will by her late-husband’s relatives because she says she can feel strong energies emanating from the walls of rooms. (You know the old saying “if these walls could talk?” Well, they do to Zoe.) But when someone from the asylum arrives in Whispering Springs and begins to blackmail Zoe, she turns to the only man she knows in town who can help her. After listening to her story, he helps her the only way he knows how…by proposing marriage.

Truth or Dare -- We return to Whispering Springs, shortly after the end of Light in Shadow. When they got married, Zoe and Ethan agreed that once her issues with her late-husband’s relatives were resolved, they would get a divorce and go their separate ways. But once those issues were settled, they decided to see if they could make a go of their marriage. So far, it seems to be working for them, even if Zoe has suddenly become overly security-minded and Ethan wonders how long it will take Zoe to leave. He hopes never, but given the fact that Zoe is his fourth wife, he figures her leaving is inevitable.

Other problems come to light that overshadow their concerns. Arcadia Ames, Zoe’s friend from the asylum, believes that her dead husband Grant is actually still alive and is coming after her. Arcadia checked herself into the Candle Lake asylum as a ruse to escape from her husband, but somewhere along the line, she made a mistake, and now Grant is after her, and he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants from her—she’s holding evidence that could get him sent to jail. He wants that evidence. And he wants her dead.

Meanwhile, Zoe encounters strange, unexpected “psychic spider webs” at Arcadia’s and in the Designer Dream Home where she’s decorating the library. Some dark mind is responsible for the webs, stalking her and dredging up old memories of Candle Lake. Zoe wonder if she is finally, truly losing her mind. Can she trust Ethan with the truth about what’s happening to her, or will it be the thing that drives them apart forever?

This entry is a two-fer because the two stories go together and it took me less than a week to listen to them both. I enjoyed Light in Shadow and while Truth or Dare is also good, it has the feel of a forced sequel. That is to say, Light in Shadow was a good story in and of itself, but it did leave one or two threads untied and therefore another book had to be written to tie them off. I would almost have preferred Light in Shadow be an extra 50 or so pages longer in order to tie off those threads than to have an additional book.

BUT! Since these stories were published six years ago, I guess my opinion doesn’t really carry any weight, does it?

I give the stories THREE STARS each.

And with this entry, I'm off my Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle kick and back to Nora Roberts. I've been wanting to re-read the In The Garden series since spring and I've held off until now. I read the series when it first came out and I can remember tiny bits and pieces of the stories but not the individual or over-arching plot lines, so now would be a good time to indulge myself.

Also, next month's readings will be sparse (even sparser than this month) because of National Novel Writing Month. This is my fourth year participating and if you've ever had a yen to write a novel, go to the site and check out the details. This is your chance to spend a month pounding out that novel burning within you, to see if you have what it takes to write a 50,000 word novel. Trust me, it's tough, but it's a load of fun!

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