Falling Awake, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Falling Awake is Jayne Ann Krentz's latest release. I haven't loved her last few books as I adore the ones she wrote in the early / mid 90s, but I still enjoy whatever she writes. There's something to be said about knowing exactly what you're going to get and that it's going to be a comfortable, undemanding and enjoyable read.

A red scarf. A roller coaster. A tidal wave of blood...

Isabel Wright spends her days at the Belvedere Center for Sleep Research analyzing the dreams of others. Dr. Martin Belvedere, a pioneer in the field, recognized her unique talent for what he calls Level Five lucid dreaming. It's satisfying, lucrative work, but it can be emotionally draining. Especially when one of her anonymous subjects, known only as Client Number Two, captures her imagination through his compelling dream narratives. Secretly, she thinks of him as "Dream Man."

His real name is Ellis Cutler. A loner who's learned not to let anyone get too close, he works for a highly classified government agency with an interest in the potential value of lucid dreaming. And he's just been ordered by his boss to make contact with Isabel, who's been fired after the sudden death of Dr. Belvedere. Heading to California, he pushes his fantasies out of his mind, determined to maintain a professional relationship with the woman who reads his dreams, the mysterious figure he has come to think of as "Tango Dancer."

But when they meet in the flesh, the dream becomes real enough to touch. And a waking nightmare begins—when a suspicious hit-and-run leads them into a perilous web of passion, betrayal, and murder, and forces them to walk the razor-thin line between dreams and reality.
A comfortable, undemanding and enjoyable read was just what I got. More enjoyable even than some of her latest. A solid B.

What made it better than others was that the romance seemed to be amped up a bit. More emphasis was placed on it, it plain occupied more space, and what there was of it was pretty intense. Especially Ellis' need for Isabel; I really liked that part.

Krentz also continues the trend from Truth or Dare, including plenty of smaller romantic subplots. I liked one of them (the marriage-in-trouble subplot about Isabel's sister and brother-in-law), but I wasn't too fond of the one about Ellis' boss, Lawson and his partner. I just didn't much like the way Lawson behaved. It wasn't so much the affair, though that did bother me, it was the way he transfered the woman he had the affair with, after it was over. I've seen that way too often in real life, and I despise men who act that way.

I had somewhat mixed feelings about the plot. The whole dream thing was interesting to me. With its categories and its levels and so on, this aspect was a bit reminiscent of the author's Jayne Castle books. Those had similar things with the protagonists being prism and talent of off-the-charts power and their fascination at finally being able to interact with someone who really understood them.

However, I didn't think Krentz really did enough with this. For instance, ee're told of how Isabel works, dreaming of other people's dreams in order to interpret them, but we never really saw her doing it.

The suspense subplot itself was interesting, but I felt that the resolution was a bit too convoluted and that the villain's motivations weren't all that believable.

On the whole, this is a nice way to spend a few hours, but unless you're a die-hard fan of JAK, as I am, my advice is to wait for the paperback.


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