Burning Lamp, by Amanda Quick

>> Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TITLE: Burning Lamp
AUTHOR: Amanda Quick

PAGES: 352

SETTING: Victorian London
TYPE: Paranormal Romance
SERIES: Second in the Dream Light trilogy, which combines all of JAK's three pseudonyms and settings.

REASON FOR READING: Autoread author

In this second novel of the Dreamlight Trilogy from New York Times-bestselling author Amanda Quick, psychic power and passion collide as a legendary curse comes to a burn...

The Arcane Society was born in turmoil when the friendship of its two founders evolved into a fierce rivalry. Nicholas Winters's efforts led to the creation of a device of unknown powers called the Burning Lamp. Each generation of male descendents who inherits it is destined to develop multiple talents-and the curse of madness.

Plagued by hallucinations and nightmares, notorious crime lord Griffin Winters is convinced he has been struck with the Winters Curse. But even has he arranges a meeting with the mysterious woman Adelaide Pyne, he has no idea how closely their fates are bound, for she holds the missing lamp in her possession.

But their dangerous psychic experiment makes them the target of forces both inside and outside of the Arcane Society. And though desire strengthens their power, their different lives will keep them apart-if death doesn't take them together.
As mentioned above, Burning Lamp is the second in a trilogy (I suspect it might have been planned as the first in the series, but that release schedules for JAK's different pseudonyms might have influenced the order). Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, here's the description of the series' premise that I wrote in my review of the first one, Fired Up:

The idea is that while one of the founding members of the Arcane society concentrated on enhancing his powers through a potion (the Founder's Formula that so bored me in previous books), another went the engineering way and did so through an artifact, the Burning Lamp. This artifact created a mutation in his genetic makeup, one that manifests in only some of his descendants. When it does, it can lead to them becoming psychic monsters. The only hope for these individuals is to find a woman who can operate the energy produced by the burning lamp and use it to reverse those genetic changes before they become so dangerous that they have to be put down, so to speak.

Each of the books in this trilogy will take place in a different period, coinciding with JAK's three pseudonyms. The books are not in chronological order. This first one, a Jayne Ann Krentz title, is set in the present day. The next one, Burning Lamp (coming out in late April), will be an Amanda Quick and take place in the 19th century, while the last one, Midnight Crystal (coming out August) will be a Jayne Castle and thus be one of her futuristic books set in Harmony. A further thing is that Burning Lamp will have been lost in between the different books, so each of the heroes will have to first find it, and then find the woman who can help them use it.
Anyway, on to this story!

At the start of Burning Lamp, 15-year-old Adelaide Pyne is awaiting her first client at the brothel her guardian sold her to. Adelaide is not giving up easily, though. She has a talent for manipulating dream energy, and plans to use that talent to escape. But her first client is not your usual drunken brothel patron, he's a clearly dangerous man with a talent of his own, and he has no qualms about using it to kill the brothel owner. Adelaide succeeds in overpowering him, however, and escapes, taking with her a strange artifact the man had brought with him.

Fast forward some years (can't remember how many, but about 15, I would say?) and Griffin Winters has begun to suspect he inherited the Winters curse. He fears that unless he finds both the Burning Lamp and a woman who can help him operate it, he'll go mad.

Griffin is a crime lord (yes, he's refered to as that constantly throughout the book, but it's never quite clear exactly what crimes we're talking about -he doesn't really do anything other Amanda Quick heroes don't do), and he has the pulse on London's underworld. He has been hearing about someone who's been engineering raids on brothels known for providing particularly young prostitutes, and there's something about the raider's MO that makes him think he should meet the person responsible. So he arranges a meeting through one of his contacts, and is pleasantly surprised to find out that not only is Adelaide as strong a dreamlight reader as he suspected, but she already has the Burning Lamp, and is quite willing to help him out.

But just as Griffin was able to identify Adelaide, so are other people, and they're determined to get their hands on her and the Burning Lamp.

This was a nice read. Some elements were a bit repetitive and predictable (I'm thinking mostly about Griffin finds the lamp, and then the way it ends up working -pretty much exactly as in Fired Up), but I found the characters fresher than usual.

You know how Amanda Quick's heroines keep protesting "I'm a woman of the world", when they clearly aren't? Well, Adelaide actually is, very much so. She has lived. After escaping the brothel, she moved to America and made her fortune as a performer in a Wild West show. She's played the psychic, held up the targets for the sharpshooting demonstration, all sorts of things. And she hasn't remained chaste and pure throughout, either. There isn't a fuss made about it, but she's had lovers in the past. It's clearly not a big deal for her, mainly because she has no aspirations to any sort of nobility. And neither has Griffin. Both were orphaned when young teens, and have had to make their own way in the world, and so they are perfectly ok with their positions now.

They both felt mature and centred. Not that there isn't some internal conflict, to add to the external one of people coming after them. Griffin has some issues with loss, but they weren't taken to ridiculous lengths, and he was willing to work to get over them. And as in the best books by this author, the chemistry between Griffin and Adelaide is nicely done, and it's clear that they find in each other's company something they've never been able to find elsewhere. Not the most exciting romance ever, but nice.

Something else I liked was the friendship between Griffin and Caleb Jones (from The Perfect Poison), the founder of the J-and-J detective agency that's featured heavily in the contemps. Griffin thinks Caleb is bound to want to execute any Winters male who shows any indication of potentially becoming a multi-talent, but even so, they end up becoming good friends. It was a bit disconcerting, because Griffin and Caleb read so similar that it was hard to know which was which when they were together, but it was nice reading some male bonding scenes!

MY GRADE: A B. Nice enough.


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