Obsidian Prey, by Jayne Castle

>> Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TITLE: Obsidian Prey
AUTHOR: Jayne Castle

PAGES: 384

SETTING: The planet Harmony
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: It stands alone, but it's one of several novels set in Harmony and also ties in to the Arcane Society books, although this element is not very prominent.

REASON FOR READING: JAK, in all her guises, is a comfort read.

Amber tuner and independent prospector Lyra Dore lost her heart-and her discovery of a rare amethyst ruin-to cutthroat businessman Cruz Sweetwater. At least she had her artistically talented dust-bunny to comfort her...

But the ruin's mysterious power has put everyone involved with the project in danger. And only by trusting their psychic instincts will Cruz and Lyra survive- and surrender to the desire that binds them.
This is one of several books JAK has written under her Jayne Castle pseudonym, set in the planet called Harmony. The basic premise is that several centuries earlier, a "Curtain" opened between Earth and this planet, allowing Earthlings to travel to and from the previously unreachable location. Humans colonised Harmony, but had to keep bringing technology from Earth, as the magnetic fields in their new home made it malfunction after a short while. And then, suddently, the Curtain closed and the people on Harmony were left isolated and struggling to survive.***

After a few years on the planet, the colonists discovered that people were developing psychic abilities, all related to Harmony's ample supply of amber. And with every generation, these abilities keep getting stronger, and people often find jobs related to them.

Our heroine, Lyra Dore, has an ability to resonate with a type of rare amber. She specialises in tuning amber for other people to be able to focus their talent through it, as well as on using her own talent to explore the mysterious ruins left by Harmony's previous inhabitants, searching for treasure.

A few months before the start of the book, Lyra was screwed over by the Sweetwater family. While exploring a newly discovered artificial jungle under her city, she discovered a previously unknown type of ruin containing rare amber artifacts. The way things are set up in her city, Lyra's discovery would have pretty much automatically be taken over by a larger organisation that could secure it properly, with Lyra being paid compensation for her discovery. Lyra very definitely did not want her discovery taken from her, so she kept it secret and tried to sell some of the artifacts on the underground market.

Unfortunately, the first potential buyer she contacted turned out to be Cruz Sweetwater working undercover. Cruz is a member of the family that owns Amber Inc., one of the very companies Lyra was trying to avoid taking over her ruin. Before long, her discovery has been taken away from her and, to add insult to injury, she and Cruz had shared some steamy kisses before Lyra found out who he really was. Lyra was even convinced she was in love with him. Lyra refused to be bought off and sued Amber Inc., but to no avail. She's now both brokenhearted and plain broke from paying her expensive and useless lawyer's fees.

When Cruz walks back into her life a few months later and asks for a favour, Lyra's hopes that she might get some revenge on him by rejecting his advances are dashed. Clearly he's only after her professional help. But Cruz doesn't, and when it becomes clear that someone is after the artifacts, and willing to kill to get them, it gives him the opportunity to spend some time with Lyra proving it.

I did like this. There's no denying the mystery is unexciting and predictable, and the suspense scenes are all practically carbon copies from previous books. I didn't particularly care what happened on this end, and kind of skimmed over some of the scenes.

However, the romance was fun and the chemistry between Cruz and Lyra really nicely done. There was quite a lot of repetition here as well, but I didn't mind it at all. In fact, things like everyone on the Sweetwater family constantly referring to Lyra as "the woman who broke Cruz's heart" was quite funny and sweet. Some readers might be irritated at Lyra not being able to let go of the fact that the Sweetwaters took her discovery, but not me. She's right, damn it! Good stuff.

Finally, I really should mention one of my favourite things about the book: Lyra's dustbunny Vincent and his artistic streak. I tend to despise saccharine and cute, and if someone described the dustbunnies in JAK's Harmony books, I would guess I was going to find myself very irritated by the cute overload. But I love, love, love those dustbunnies. I want one (although what Sybil the Cat would make of one, I have no idea), and I laugh out loud at their antics. Go figure!

*** I kept thinking as I wrote my description of the setting's premise that I would very much like to see something set right after the Curtain closed. It could have a very interesting, almost warlike / disaster movie-type, struggle-for-survival feel to it. Thinking about the Curtain closing also made me think of Berlin when the Wall went up. I would expect some people would have been just visiting, in either direction, and would have been caught out when the Curtain closed and separated from their loved ones. I can very easily imagine people desperately trying to find a way to communicate and open the Curtain again. That could make for a very good book!



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