Jove, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-15575-4
Sci-fi Romantic Suspense, 2016
If you can’t get enough of the author’s fifty bazillion Arcane Society books, you’re in for a treat, because Jayne Castle continues the trend of insomnia-breaking mind-sex stories in Illusion Town. I have not read the author’s books written under this name in more than a decade, and given that this is supposed to be the start of a new series set in Harmony, I thought it would be a good place to get reacquainted with her. Oh boy, what was I thinking?
Hannah West and Elias Coppersmith had been corresponding on a professional level, but Elias senses an attraction between the two of them. Maybe this passion is evident in the choice of font and emoji in their correspondences? They decide to meet shortly after the story opens and… black out. When they come to, they are sleeping on the same bed in a motel in Harmony’s Las Vegas, called Illusion Town here, married. They have registered themselves in a Marriage of Convenience, specifically, which is different from a Covenant Marriage, because you get into a MC if you just want to have an affair and the MC helps make the child legitimate in case one pops out – contraceptives apparently no longer existed in this futuristic version of the world – while a CM is what you do if you are really serious about getting married. And I think my IQ plummeted by at least 100 points after typing the last sentence, because this setting is stupid beyond belief. Contraceptives are dead, but the bloody Arcane Society lives on – life is unfair, the apocalypse should have been more thorough.
This story sees those two trace back and find out what happened in the events that led them to be MC’ed. In the meantime, there are lots of hand-wringing about whether they want to make the marriage permanent, because nothing is certain until he says the three words and, of course, he can’t say that until close to the very end. The hero is stoic, supposedly emotionless, because he’s a scholar and what not, much to the dismay of his more passionate family members, until he meets the heroine and it’s Krakatoa all over again – woosh! She is feisty, thinks she is unpretty, has OVER 9,000!!! psychic powers that are second only to his (a woman can’t be more powerful than a man in a romance novel, don’t be silly), and their mental banging makes their loins go slamming in real life as well. And on and on and on – yes, if you have read the author’s woo-woo stories before, this story is exactly the same old thing that you have already read many, many, many times.
The mystery is boring. The characters are barely developed, with the author relying on the reader’s familiarity with her formula to fill in the blanks – ooh, how meta – and they come off like color-based-on-the-number version of her better developed characters in the past.
So, this book is boring, and I end up writing a boring review as a result, because I’m bored, and I wonder whether the author was as bored when she had to write this thing. The most interesting thing about it is probably the shapes made by my drool on pages 48 and 151 when I dozed off while trying to make myself finish this thing.