Fired Up, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

TITLE: Fired Up
AUTHOR: Jayne Ann Krentz

PAGES: 368

SETTING: Contemporary Seattle and Las Vegas
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: Book 1 of the Dreamlight trilogy

REASON FOR READING: Autoread author

The New York Times-bestselling author presents her latest Arcane Society novel and introduces the first book in the Dreamlight Trilogy-the story of a curse that spans generations, and the love that can heal it...

More than three centuries ago, Nicholas Winters irrevocably altered his genetic makeup in an obsession fueled competition with alchemist and Arcane Society founder Sylvester Jones. Driven to control their psychic abilities, each man's decision has reverberated throughout the family line, rewarding some with powers beyond their wildest dreams, and cursing others to a life filled with madness and hallucinations.

Jack Winters, descendant of Nicholas, has been experiencing nightmares and blackouts-just the beginning, he believes-of the manifestation of the Winters family curse. The legend says that he must find the Burning Lamp or risk turning into a monster. But he can't do it alone; he needs the help of a woman with the gift to read the lamp's dreamlight.

Jack is convinced that private investigator Chloe Harper is that woman. Her talents for finding objects and accessing dream energy are what will save him, but their sudden and powerful sexual pull threatens to overwhelm them both. Danger surrounds them, and it doesn't take long for Chloe to pick up the trail of the missing lamp. And as they draw closer to the lamp, the raw power that dwells within it threatens to sweep them into a hurricane of psychic force.
After fulminating against JAK's increasing emphasis on the gimmicky Arcane Society, I was very surprised when I found myself very intrigued by the, well, gimmick underlying her new trilogy. It's one that is even related to the Arcane Society!

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.

In Fired Up, that woman is Chloe Harper, a PI who Jack Winters originally approaches for help finding the lamp. Jack has only recently developed a new talent, a sure sign that the genetic change has began to manifest in him. It's a new talent that scares him, especially since it's accompanied by blackouts, hallucinations and sleepwalking.

He and Chloe find the lamp without much trouble, but working together to operate it is quite another matter. They have to deal with not only a shadowy organisation that's out to get them, for its own mysterious purposes, but with the very strong attraction that's developing between them.

Interested in the premise as I was, I'm afraid it wasn't helped by the introduction of the nefarious secret society, Nightshade, that has featured in previous Arcane Society books. It wasn't as prominent as it has been, though, so it didn't overly bother me. It did become more so nearer the end, but even when it did, I was able to gloss over it without much trouble.

The romance was better than that. There's some chemistry between the characters and I really liked their interactions. It's not JAK's best, but it did the job.

Chloe is a good character. Like most of JAK's heroines lately, she's a bit of a misfit. She is sensitive to dreamlight, which everyone generates when they dream. She can read its traces without much trouble when people are awake and going about their business, but being in the same room with someone who's actually asleep and in the process of generating this light is torture for her. This means that she has never been able to literally sleep with anyone, which has wreaked havoc on her relationships. But guess what happens with Jack?

Something else I liked was the friendship between Jack and Fallon, the conspiracy-theorist head of the Jones & Jones detective agency. These two like each other, but at the same time, know that if Jack isn't able to stop the curse with the lamp, Fallon is going to have to hunt him down. It was nice seeing them deal with that.

Speaking of Fallon, there's a mere glimpse of a very interesting potential secondary romance featuring him, but there just isn't much there. I wish JAK had spent a bit more time on it, but I imagine it might develop more in the future, so I don't mind that much.

MY GRADE: A B. I might be being a bit generous, but I did enjoy it and liked the premise.


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