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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Falling Awake

**** Falling Awake by Jayne Ann Krentz. Romantic suspense.

I'm really not sure why Krentz isn't on my must-buy list--she's such a staple of the genre. I tend to enjoy her books when I read them, but they've just never grabbed me enough to make me actively search out more. Falling Awake is typical of my JAK experience.

Isabel Wright is a Level Five Lucid Dreamer--that is, she can direct her own dreams--and a dream analyst at the Belvedere Sleep Center. Or at least she was, until her boss is found dead and his short-sighted son and heir fires her. Unfortunately for the new owner, Isabel's work for a covert government organization was a major source of funding for the center, so now he wants her back.

Ellis Cutler is also a Level Five Lucid Dreamer, and one of Isabel's former clients, known only to her as Client Number Two. His work for the government agency is to solve murders, using lucid dreaming to tap the subconscious. He dreams, his transcripts are sent anonymously to Isabel, who interprets them, and then he uses those results to unravel the mystery. So when Isabel is fired, his boss sends Ellis to find her and convince her to work directly for them.

Isabel, however, has long been frustrated by the anonymity and secrecy, and doesn't want to play anymore. Plus, it's starting to look dangerous. On the other hand, she'd gotten to know Ellis through his dreams, and meeting him in person, she's even more attracted.

I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of this story--the dreamers use a nice mix of logic and intuition which is fabulous, and there's plenty of mystery and intrigue, danger and action. And I like the idea that Ellis and Isabel were attracted to each other's minds first. A nice change from the usual purely-physical attraction.

But nothing made it really stand out for me. I was only caught up in the suspense plot--the romance was a foregone conclusion. Yes, I know: it's a romance, you know the hero and heroine will be together at the end. But there's a difference between knowing that because you've read the genre on the spine of the book and knowing it because there's no reason for them not to get together. Isabel's plan to become a motivational speaker was never a credible threat--though it did lead to some comic relief.

I suppose there doesn't always have to be an obstacle to the relationship in a romantic suspense... but all else being equal, I think it makes for a better book. Or maybe there does. Otherwise, it's a suspense book with a romantic interest between the main characters. Darla's theory of genre definition. I ought to write it down.

My one other complaint: the five chapter-long epilogue. The book was finished at the end of chapter 39. But we're treated to five chapters of wrapping shit up. I'd have been vastly happier with the book if I hadn't been bored silly. Literally silly. I started singing "this is the book that doesn't end..." I know a lot of readers like that--seeing everybody happy and settled, but really, we can all figure that out for ourselves.

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