Zinnia, by Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz)

>> Monday, September 08, 2003

When over a year ago I started to reread all my JAK books, I was completely sure that I had all the books in her St. Helen's trilogy, but it turns out I only had # 1 and 3, Amaryllis and Orchid. I've had to wait almost a year to read book 2, Zinnia (all these were written under JAK's pseudonym of Jayne Castle).

Continuing her futuristic, paranormal series set on the imaginary world of St. Helens, where matched marriages are the norm and almost everyone is psychically gifted to some degree, Castle focuses on two "matchless," highly gifted psychics. Rendered unmarriageable because of her psychic talents, Zinnia Spring, foresees a risky love affair with casino owner Nick Chastain, who is in the market for a society wife.
I knew what I was getting with Zinnia, the excellent comfort read I needed after the traumatic experience of reading Anne Stuart's Moonrise. The book didn't dissapoint at all, and I'd grade it an A, slightly better than the two other entries in the trilogy.

I love the world-building in these books, even if there's a lot of coff-tea and New Seattle and that kind of lazy thing. I especially like the psychic powers thing. It feels very elaborate for something that was just for a few books, and I wish she'd use it again. Evaluating the trilogy as a whole, this is highly original, and excellently done. There are many details that are intriguing, like having marriage being so important and so rigid, but at the same time, making same-sex marriages part of that mainstream. And I liked the parallels to Earth, which I know is something that people who know a lot about this don't consider so good when creating new worlds. So sue me, I'm not a conoisseur :-P

But ok, this is a romance, right? So, even more important than the world-builidng was the fact that the romantic relationship in the book was wonderful. Vintage Krentz (which, you should note if you care about this, means that most things here you've seen in countless other JAK books). I loved how Nick immediately decides he needs more of Zinnia, and those hints of vulnerability when he has doubts that he'll manage to keep her tied to him. That part, when she wouldn't call, and he started getting worried but wouldn't call her himself because "it was her turn". LOL! Or that first scene, when they first meet on the metaphysical plane!

As always, the mystery was the less compelling part of the book, but it was adequate. And on the plus side, it allowed as to visit Professor DeForest's garden, which reminded me of parts of Tracy Fobes' Forbidden Garden ;-)

It did have a couple of weaknesses, mainly JAK's tendency to harp on something, this time how matrix talents are secretive and weird. Yeah, we got that the first time, no need to repeat it ad nauseam! Still, it was a great read, and I even liked elements like that final scene (present in all 3 books), where Batt gives the newlyweds some news.Predictable? Yes, I know, but I seem to have a high tolerance for predictable in JAK's books.

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