By Jayne Castle.
When I read Jayne Krentz/Quick/Castle books, I pretty much know what I am going to get. A fairly tepid (or at least not steamy) but pleasant enough relationship without that much strife, a lot of interesting world building and creatively done psychic powers, some kind of mystery--and in the case of the Harmony series, super interesting alien world building and DUST BUNNIES!!!!! I won't lie: I read this series primarily for the dust bunnies. Then the alien worldbuilding. Then the bunnies again. Overall, it seems like all of her books come out at about three stars. Pleasant reads, but not massively memorable. That's pretty much what you get. However, this one...seems to have come out half baked even for that standard.
A note about the cover: who on earth is that hooker in the black bra and leather pants? Because our heroine wears glasses and is an antiques dealer, and I just don't think she'd tromp around wearing that outfit. Dear lord, I feel sorry for authors being stuck with whatever completely nonsensical "sexy" skank with no head covers that marketing determines will "sell," even if the characters in the book stay reasonably dressed at all times.
Back to the plot: Charlotte and Slade are from Rainshadow Island, a place with a strange Preserve that's fenced off so nobody can get in there. It's a weird place, and yet ah, people seem to be able to get in there fairly easily. When they were teenagers, Charlotte was being attacked by a bunch of creepy pervs, and Slade saved her. She had a crush on him after that and gave him a special knife she tuned to him psychically. However, Slade left the island to go work for the feds. Fifteen years later, Charlotte's returned to take over her dead aunt's antique shop and Slade has quit the feds and become the police chief on Rainshadow. While on the job, Slade suffered a psychic-power-wrecking injury, and he's lost a couple of levels of power--and he's been told that he's going to eventually lose it all. He took the police chief job here on a temporary (in his mind, anyway) basis while he works out how to run his own PI firm. Of course he and Charlotte get romantically involved pretty much immediately, without a whole lot of stress about it.
The mystery of the book is kind of weak. We're told that, oh, btw, Charlotte had a stalker (which she has apparently just not paid that much attention to!) who turns up dead in her shop. He went creepy on her after she tracked down some ancient snowglobe for him and then was unable to persuade the owner to sell it. Then the owner dies and Charlotte somehow receives the snowglobe. Then the case just gets...freaky. Let's just say that about the time where some ancient automaton toy of Sylvester Jones was left in Slade's place to KILL HIM happened, I was all, "what the fucking fuck? You couldn't have just used a gun?" By the time we got to the villain ranting and spilling the whole beans unnecessarily, I was just rolling my eyes a lot at the plot stupid. There's also Some Kind Of Weirdness going on in the Preserve. However, you're not going to find out what the hell it was in this book--it's vaguely set up and then left as a cliffhanger for the next book, whatever that is. It was awkward and strange to leave that hanging, and just came out kind of pointless.
Even the dust bunny in this book doesn't really have a plot. Rex has two character traits: he eats a ton of zucchini bread, and he absconds with a clutch purse from Charlotte's shop, which he insists on carrying around a lot. In other Harmony books, this would end up being some kind of important plot point (i.e. Silver Master). In this book, uh... the bunny just likes a purse. There are occasional short debates as to whether or not Rex carrying around a purse impugns Slade's manliness. It is determined that the answer to that is "No, it doesn't." Whatever happened to dust bunnies psychically knowing stuff about the case and helping out/saving the day? Poor Rex.
Two and a half stars. Not a total stinker of a book, but it's not very well done.