Night of the Magician, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Wednesday, November 26, 2003

This one looked pretty good from the back blurb: Night of the Magician, by Jayne Ann Krentz (writing as Stephanie James).

If there was one thing Ariana Warfield understood, it was money. As a financial planner in charge of her family's accounts, she'd known immediately that her Aunt Philomena was being swindled by a charlatan psychic. Lucian Hawk, devastating magician, was the perfect choice to unmask the fraud. But from the moment they met, Ariana realized that his dangerous spells threatened to shatter her well-planned life. Suddenly she discovered real magic in his arms, and enthralling passion that drove the woman who didn't take chances to risk everything on love.
Very satisfying. Not the very best of Krentz, but it fulfilled my needs very nicely. A B+.

I very much liked the heroine, Arianna. She reminded me a bit of Cassie, from Nightwalker, in that she was financially successful in her own right and proud of it, a sensible, independent woman.

Lucian, meanwhile, was more typical romance hero (except for his moonlighting as a magician), but he was ok, if a little too dominating at times. I would have liked maybe a little more of his POV, but for an early 80s book what there was was quite a lot.

Already here, in such an early book, the banter between the protagonists is one of the best things in the book, even though I admit JAK's style has improved infinitely since then. Some things about her writing style here were actually pretty funny. For starters, there was the excess of exclamation marks, then the abundance of awkward dialogue tags: the characters didn't often just "say" things, they "grated" them, and so on. I noticed exactly the same thing in Krentz's Corporate Affair, published at about the same time.

And then there was that little touch of the 80s, Lucian constantly addressed Ariana as "Magic Lady". I'm not kidding. "Come here, Magic Lady". And Ariana responded with "magician". "What do you want from me, magician?" Very bizarre, and very distracting. Shades of Elizabeth Lowell, and that book where the hero called the heroine nothing but "Fancy Lady". Ack!!

I loved the resolution of the romantic conflict, how Lucian realized the rightness of Ariana's doubts and made himself vulnerable accordingly. But before that, it was fun to see him try so hard to convince Ariana to allow him to do her the favour of marrying her, and his increasing desperation when Ariana kept telling him that she'd changed her mind, that she didn't feel the need to get married anymore. Don't worry, it's ok, we can just have the affair you said you wanted. Ha!

The suspense subplot was one of the best I've read in a JAK book. As always, very unobtrusive, but I found what there was of it pretty intriguing.

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