>> Friday, February 19, 2010
TITLE: The Sinister Touch
AUTHOR: Jayne Castle
SETTING: 1980s US
TYPE: Series romance
SERIES: 3rd in the Guinevere Jones quartet: follows The Desperate Game and The Chilling Deception.
REASON FOR READING: I wanted something short and sweet, and the first two in the series were good examples of early JAK.
Were They Dealing with a Demonic Cult or a Devilishly Clever Killer?As the previous two, this was a fun read, with a mystery in which our Guinevere gets mixed up and into which she drags along her reluctant PI boyfriend, Zach, as well as further development to their relationship.
GUINEVERE JONES - Being a good neighbor was easy when the window across the way framed a handsome young handsome young artist. But when she became witness to sudden violence in his apartment, it was only a hint of the trouble to come.
ZACHARIAH JUSTIS - He was up to his ears with an enchanting new client whena twitch of jealousy, the ticking of biological clocks, and a confrontation with mortal danger made him rethink his relationship to Gwen.
A slashed canvas, a pentagram streaked by a bolt of lightning, chilling blood rites - they lead Gwen and Zac into the dark heart of mystery where art, magic, and money weave a dangerous spell.
The mystery this time starts out with the defacing of a painting. The artist who's been working on it lives across the street from Gwen, and their polite nodding at each other every morning through the window has long aroused Zac's jealousy. The painting incident leads to Gwen and the artist actually meeting for coffee (leading to Zach gnashing his teeth even more), and to Gwen's insistence on helping solve the mystery (i.e. getting into trouble), much to Zac's disgust.
The mystery's pretty meh, nothing special, even though it involves supposedly "exciting" elements like weird Satanic cults and strange symbols. I think my main irritation with it was that Gwen comes off a bit TSTL, in her insistence on butting into something that doesn't concern her at all and which is likely to put her in danger.
The romance is more interesting and better done (I think I say the same in every single JAK review). Gwen and Zac's relationship has been developing since their first meeting in book 1, and it's progressing quite slowly. At the start of the book, Zac, especially, is struggling with how to get the relationship up to the level of commitment he would want.
It's all about biological clocks here (and I was very amused by the way the whole concept was treated as this newfangled thing that Zach has only now found out about and half doubts even exists). Zac suspects Gwen (who's getting a bit long in the tooth, being in her 30s *sobs*) might start wanting a child soon, and worries that if she does, she might not perceive him, the owner and sole employee of a struggling PI agency, as prime father material.
Gwen, meanwhile, is suspicious of Zac's latest client, a glamorous businesswoman who seems to be taking up too much of his time during non-working hours. And her suspicions are pretty much justified, because the woman has a fully operational biological clock of her own, and she certainly thinks Zach is suitable
I mostly enjoyed this part of the book. Some aspects of their relationship are a bit dated, like Zac's thinking that his role is to "lay down the law" to Gwen and "read her the riot act" when she "misbehaves". On the positive side, though, Gwen won't let herself be bullied, and just treats this part of Zac's personality as the throwback it is, as well as a manifestation of his insecurities regarding her. This made Zac's caveman instincts funny rather than irritating.
I'm looking forward to the final book in the quartet now, and won't let too much time pass before I get to it.
MY GRADE: A B.