Absolutely, Positively

Deep Waters

Eclipse Bay

Eye of the Beholder

Flash

Sharp Edges

Soft Focus

As Amanda Quick:

Affair

I Thee Wed

Mischief

Mystique

Wicked Widow
With This Ring

As Jayne Castle

After Dark

Amaryllis

Charmed

Orchid

Zinnia

 
Lost & Found by Jayne Ann Krentz
(Putnam, $23.95, PG-13) ISBN 0-399-14669-5
****
Cady Briggs is an independent art consultant in the San Francisco Bay area. Her great-aunt Vesta is the principal owner of a highly successful art gallery. Like her great-aunt, Cady suffers from random panic attacks stemming from a near-drowning in childhood. She recognizes there are many similarities between her great-aunt and herself, and she’s slightly concerned that many believe that she’s becoming more and more “weird” just like Aunt Vesta. Her romantic relationships have been unsatisfying culminating in a brief disastrous marriage that is referred to as a “nine-day wonder.”

Most of Cady’s family is associated with the art gallery, but she prefers to work as a consultant. She has occasionally free-lanced for the shadowy Mack Easton who owns Lost and Found, a low-profile business that locates missing art. Although her only contact with Mack has been via phone or email, she has come to regard him as her Fantasy Man.

She meets Mack at his request in Las Vegas. Two old friends of his father operate a weapons/armor museum, and a potentially valuable sixteenth century helmet has been stolen. She agrees to assist in its recovery. When Cady pursues as possible lead, Mack gets wind of it and believes she’s betraying his trust.

He follows her to the isolated dwelling of a young retired computer software gazillionaire where together they thwart a burglary and theft. She only realizes that Mack had doubted her motives after they spend a passionate night together.

Mack begins to wonder if he needs to make some changes in his life and personal situation. After his wife’s death six years earlier, he had concentrated on his teen-aged daughter Gabriella, but now she is in college and embarking on her own life.

Vesta Briggs is found dead, presumably drowning while suffering a panic attack. Cady suspects she was murdered. Vesta had recently delayed a vote on a proposed merger between her gallery and another, 49% of which was owned by Cady’s ex-husband.

Even though she and Mack had parted with ill feelings, Cady decides to hire him to assist her investigating the circumstances behind Vesta’s death and particularly the proposed merger. They will explain his presence as her soon-to-be fiancé.

Their investigation will expand to encompass a shadowy inquiry into art fraud begun by Aunt Vesta, other members of Cady’s family, and Mack’s daughter Gabriella.

I’ve read Jayne Ann Krentz’s books for years. Trust me, a lot of years. I love her feisty heroines who are confident enough to give the hero a piece of her mind, full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes. I like that her characters have careers and work a regular workday like the rest of us. I love that her characters aren’t homeless orphans devoid of any family connections or affections. Lately, however, I’ve been, to put it mildly, disappointed with her books. Her plots and characters seem to be stuck in a formulaic rut, and her settings are solidly cemented in the same repetitive Pacific Rim region.

Lost & Found, her most recent contemporary isn’t going on my keeper shelf and doesn’t deserve to be listed on her all-time-hit-parade list, but it’s a solid effort that will please many readers and a welcome departure from some of her recent books.

I’m recommending Lost & Found not because of what it has but because of what it doesn’t have:

There’s none of that mumbo-jumbo psychedelic paranormal psychobabble extraneous junk that has complicated some recent books. Well, almost none, and what there is is part of the fraud subplot.

The hero is not a solitary male who’s arrived at his late 30’s or early 40’s as one of those wounded by the love of a selfish bitch and so I’ve sworn off women forever types or - even worse - the emotionally disconnected since birth and never knew women were people types.

The heroine has problems, but she’s moving on instead of getting bogged down with what-could-have-been regrets.

The villain isn’t so utterly repulsive you wonder how he could possibly have gotten on a first name basis with anyone who isn’t lower than pond scum.

Lost & Found is classic JAK. (It’s an indication of her prominence in the genre that she’s one of the few authors whose initials are sufficient identification.) Hero and heroine meet and are attracted, but something separates them - circumstances, attitudes, work, family, misunderstanding. Something. They get back together to tackle a problem/mysterious situation and the attraction is overwhelming. The problem is solved, and they’re Together Forever. Yes, it’s definitely a formula, but lots of other genre feature formulae.

Mysteries. Fantasies. Technothrillers. All have their own formulae, and they work. Readers expect certain things when they pick up a book in a particular genre.

In Lost & Found, once again Jayne Ann Krentz delivers what romance readers want.

--Lesley Dunlap


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