After Glow, by Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz)

>> Friday, April 16, 2004

For my plane trip home, I chose yet another book by Jayne Ann Krentz. This one was After Glow, a very new release, written as Jayne Castle.

Life is complicated for Lydia Smith. She's working at that tacky, third-rate museum, Shrimpton's House of Ancient Horrors, trying to salvage her career in para-archaeology—and dating the most dangerous man in town. Just when she thinks she might be getting things under control, she stumbles over a dead body and discovers that her lover has a secret past that could get him killed.
Just to top things off, trouble is brewing underground in the eerie, glowing green passageways of the Dead City and that dynamic dust-bunny, Fuzz, has a couple of surprises up his tatty, furry sleeve.

Of course, all of those problems pale in comparison to the most pressing issue: Lydia has been invited to the Restoration Ball and she hasn't got a thing to wear.
After Glow is the sequel to After Dark, which I recently reread in order to "prepare" (oh, the hardship!!!). I actually liked this one a little better, though not exactly enough to give it a keeper grade. A B+.

In After Glow JAK sheds light on so many of the things that had left me intrigued in After Dark. We find out exactly what happened during Lydia's famous Lost Weekend, we come to understand just what exactly is going on between Emmett and Mercer Wyatt, and of course, last but not least, we see more closure in Lydia and Emmett's relationship.

Speaking of their relationship, I liked that they are at a stage that is past the first courtship (they are already at a point where they have accepted their attraction and fondness for each other and have decided to pursue a relationship), but they still have issues to resolve and settle about it. This is something I like reading about, and something JAK is one of the few authors that does. Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few of her books, especially her old categories, which start with the protagonists at this enjoyable stage.

I also very much enjoyed the world the story is set in. Well, I've enjoyed JAK's world-building in all her paranormals, even though I know many people are irritated by some of it, so this is not a surprise. I especially liked the ambience of the eerie green Old City and the character of Fuzz, the dust-bunny. Yeah, cinic old me is a bit of a sucker for cute animals, even though cute kids irritate the hell out of me.

I confess one of my favourite scenes of the book was the one where Emmett has just "melted amber" (that is, for the uninitiated, applied so much psychic power that the amber he used to focus it has been... ruined, would be the word). Apparently, ghost-hunters become incredibly horny after using their powers, so after melting amber, Emmett becomes practically an animal in heat. He can barely control himself. I loved this scene, as much as I loved the similar scene in After Dark, and the one in Bridal Jitters, the short story also set in this world. It didn't matter I'd read it twice before, it hit me right in the gut.

It's actually kind of strange that a scene like this one resonated so much with me, considering that one of the heros who have affected me the most this year was one who refused to even consider the posibility of applying the slightest pressure on the heroine. Apparently, there's an unpublished dialogue between he and the heroine where she says that he would have been able to force her to fall in love with him sooner, and he says that then they might have had to apply for an annulment because of non-consummation. I found this incredibly endearing and affecting, and yet, here I am enjoying a scene that is the complete opposite. Go figure!

This is one world I wouldn't mind visiting again. JAK does seem to have given Lydia and Emmett enough closure not to continue their story, but I do hope she keeps publishing those paranormals!


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