Saturday, September 03, 2011

Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle

Rainshadow is a small island off the coast of Harmony, home to a bunch of people who are more independent and rugged than most of the people on Harmony. It is also home to a piece of the Island known as the Preserve- a wild and untamed area of forest that is home to strange psi-forces that confuse almost anyone who enters it. The dangerous reputation of the Preserve makes most people stay far away, as people in the past have gotten lost and died without ever finding their way out of the trees, but for some people, it's only more of a draw, which is why the preserve is surrounded with a stout psi-fence.

Charlotte Enright is a native of Rainshadow who goes out to see the beauty of the preserve for herself, but when three mainlander men decide that they can have her with no price having to be paid, she finds herself in over her head. Luckily, she is saved by Slade Attridge, a hunter talent who works in the preserve and whose talent allows him to make his way through the preserve without being misled or dying. And, in return for her bad experience, he takes her inside the fence and guides her to a place in the preserve to experience it for herself- if only for a short time.

Charlotte, who's had a crush on Slade for just about as long as she's known him, returns the favor by giving him a Black Amber knife from her own possessions. She doesn't tell him how to open it, but lets him find out that secret on his own. She does tune it for him, using her rainbow powers, to work more perfectly with his aura or rainbow. Slade is about to leave the island to work with Harmony's version of the FBI, and as far as he is concerned, he won't be back, ever.

Fifteen years later, Slade returns to the island to become its chief of Police. Despite a long career with the FBPI, he was recently involved in a case that turned very bad for him. He was dosed with a psi-active drug that somehow affected his Hunter-talent. Now, every time he tries to use it, he feels a strange psi-storm at the edge of his talent, and he's gone from a level 9 hunter talent down to a 7. He hates the feeling of losing his power, and is afraid that he will soon lose *all* his psi-talent. Even so, he isn't planning to stay on Rainshadow for long. He's using his new job as a stepping-stone to start an agency of his own, a detective-style agency. But he needs the police job to try and expand his contacts.

Also back on Rainshadow is Charlotte Enright. Once just a helper in her Aunt's Antiquities store, she's made a name for herself on the mainland by selling Psi-active antiquities. But with her aunt's death, she gave up her own store in Frequency to come back to the island, selling some of her stock and taking the rest to her aunt's store. But almost as soon as she comes back, someone breaks into her store, and she gets to meet Slade Attridge again, and she realizes that her crush on him has never really gone away.

She's been unlucky in finding a match, as her talent of rainbow-reading is considered to be not very useful, and because it is such a rare talent, the people at ArcaneMatch haven't found anyone who is a good candidate for her. There was one man who expressed an interest in her, but she was not at all interested when her reading of his rainbow indicated he was probably a psychopath. Now, she can't stop checking out the rainbows of those around her on a regular basis, which often tells her more about the person than she wanted to know- or is good for their relationship.

Being that she and Slade are some of the few unattached people on the island, the rest of the Rainshadowers have a vested interest in trying to create a romance between the two of them. Very few police chiefs stay on the island for long, and they hope that if Slade and Charlotte fall in love, it will make Slade stay rather than leaving in six months time. But as Slade and Charlotte fumble their way towards a relationship with each other, it is complicated by Rex, Slade's dust bunny, who loves to steal things from Charlotte's shop, Devin, a boy growing up under his grandmother's thumb who has a definite penchant for falling into trouble both on his own and with others, and a dead man turning up in Charlotte's shop with links to Hot Antiquities dealers back in Frequency City, not to mention the Preserve itself, which is becoming a truly scary place with Psi that seems to run darker by the day, and Slade's own talent, which he fears is failing him, but which might be becoming something very different indeed! Arcane doesn't like people with two powers, and Charlotte and Slade are both Arcane. Can he discover his new, enhanced power without bringing Arcane down on his head, and can he save Charlotte from the people who want to kill her to get something they are sure she owns out of her shop? And will both of them stay on Rainshadow after Slade's six months are up?

This book is third in the "Looking Glass" trilogy, but really, this book didn't have many links to the other two books in the series. At least, not as many as Quicksilver did. The other two heroines in the series had glass reader powers, and the only real link I could find between Charlotte and the glass readers was her pendant, which was made of glass and allowed her to amplify and channel her powers better. Oh, and the glass curiosities of Mrs. Bridewell also make a reappearance, but for most of the book, we don't know that's the point of what the bad guys are looking for.

Other not so good points were that the romance seems rushed, and there are entirely too many secondary characters vying for space with the main leads. On top of that, one of the major mysteries of the book is left unsolved to set up another trilogy that is coming. It's done so heavy-handedly that its like "Ooh, strange and bad things are happening in the preserve. What could possibly be causing this?- TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT TRILOGY!" It really made me feel a little sick, because it undercut this story by doing it like that. If they'd waited until the end to set it up, it would have come off more naturally and not made this ending seem so brutally abrupt on that score. She could have spent that time setting up the Preserve situation devoting more time and energy to the romance between Slade and Charlotte, which could have done wonders for their story.

I like Slade and Charlotte, but they didn't seem to have the chemistry of some of her other hero and heroine pairs. I never got the feeling that they were all that attracted to each other, and when the sex happens, it's more warm than actually hot. Adding the fact that Charlotte gets panic attacks rather than turned on when her talent goes too hot, and what could have been hot sexy times meant that the two characters had to approach it more slowly- which could have been hot, but instead sometimes feels as though the sex got kicked in the teeth rather then having a slow buildup.

That being said, I still enjoyed most of the secondary characters, and the Rainwild is slowly growing on me, but the whole blatant telegraphing of "SEQUEL GOES HERE!" just made me annoyed. Slade and Charlotte could have become some more of her beloved characters for me, but too much meddling and outright bad choices kind of ruined the book for me. It doesn't feel like the third book in the Glasslight trilogy to me- more like the unofficial first in the Rainwilds Quadrology. This one is only slightly recommended, and I'd recommend avoiding this one entirely unless you are a completionist.

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