Copper Beach, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TITLE: Copper Beach
AUTHOR: Jayne Ann Krentz

PAGES: 352

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: #1 in the Dark Legacy serise

A rare book. An ancient code. An all-new novel from the New York Times-bestselling master of passion and the paranormal.

Within the pages of very rare books some centuries old lie the secrets of the paranormal. Abby Radwell's unusual psychic talent has made her an expert in such volumes-and sometimes taken her into dangerous territory. After a deadly incident in the private library of an obsessive collector, Abby receives a blackmail threat, and rumors swirl that an old alchemical text known as The Key has reappeared on the black market.

Convinced that she needs an investigator who can also play bodyguard, she hires Sam Coppersmith, a specialist in paranormal crystals and amber-"hot rocks." Passion flares immediately between them, but neither entirely trusts the other. When it comes to dealing with a killer who has paranormal abilities, and a blackmailer who will stop at nothing to obtain an ancient alchemical code, no one is safe.
JAK is the author I just can't quit. I've been feeling increasingly dissatisfied with her books in the last few years, especially since she started with her Arcane Society series, but I always end up reading them at some point (usually from the library). This one I picked up a lot quicker than usual, though, all due to a post in the AAR message boards saying that it was more like older books I've loved (I think Silver Linings and the Eclipse Bay books were mentioned), and less like her more recent ones.

The poster was completely right. Granted, it does have a not-too-exciting paranormal suspense subplot (an evil someone searching for an object that will allow them to create a powerful paranormal tool, as we've seen a thousand times before in the Arcane books), but this doesn't distract too much from a romance that's really quite nice and some interesting family drama.

Abby Radwell is being blackmailed by someone threatening to reveal a secret about her paranormal powers, which have helped her become one of the best book dealers specialising in what's called "hot" books. These are books paranormally altered so that they won't reveal their secrets unless someone with Abby's sort of talents unlocks them.

On her mentor's advice, Abby approaches Sam Coppersmith for help. Sam is involved in the whole plot with the paranormal tool I mentioned above, and the long and short of it is that he could use some help finding and unlocking a hot book that is the key to sorting it all out. So he and Abby enter a mutually advantageous arrangement: he'll protect her and help find her blackmailer (who he suspects has something to do with the book he's looking for, anyway), she'll help him find the book.

So, plot: boring. Much too much mundane detail about imaginary paranormal crystals and books and how they work. But I guess the good thing about JAK being so repetitive with such things is that I could just skim over all that stuff without getting lost and just concentrate on the romance and the character stuff.

And the romance and character stuff were very, very nice. There's plenty of chemistry between Abby and Sam, and best of all, a sense of real connection. They click, and they're right for each other. Abby has some well-earned trust issues, due to her family's reaction to her talents, and while you think Sam might, as well (there's some traumatic history with his late fiancee in his past), with him it's more an instant protectiveness and attraction, as soon as he meets Abby.

There is quite a bit about families here, and I especially liked that. The Coppersmiths are as loving and protective as the Radwells are disfunctional. But, and this is one of the things that harks back to some classic JAK books, they are Abby's family, and they are important to her. They are difficult and have a tendency to use her and not appreciate her, but Abby's open-eyed about the situation and why she sometimes gives in to it, so I enjoyed the dynamic, rather than be annoyed.

Here's hoping that JAK keeps moving in this direction.



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