The Hot Zone
by Jayne Castle
This is book 11 in the Harmony series and book 3 (or 4 depending on how you are counting) in the Rainshadow series. This is obviously not a stand-alone novel, at all. You could maybe get away with reading just the Rainshadow novels, but really, the whole Harmony series is a lot of fun and dust bunnies are completely awesome! What casual readers may or may not know, is that Jayne Castle is also Jayne Ann Krentz is also Amanda Quick. Jayne Castle is her futuristic (with paranormal) pen name under which she is writing the Harmony/Rainshadow series. Jayne Ann Krentz is her contemporary (some of which is also paranormal) pen name under which she has or currently is writing the following series: Eclipse Bay, Arcane, and Dark Legacy. And Amanda Quick is her historical (some of which is also paranormal) pen name under which she writes The Ladies of Lantern Street and Arcane. And there are some trilogies that fit into the larger series that span through time and are written under each pen name, like Looking Glass Trilogy and Dreamlight Trilogy. Confused yet? Well you don’t have to be. Most of the time you don’t actually have to cross genres and pen names to enjoy the stories, there doesn’t seem to be too much the casual reader needs to enjoy most of the books. However, if you do follow or read all of them there are fun connections between events and characters that just make everything so much more fun.
So, back to The Hot Zone. Harmony is a futuristic world where 200 years in their past, a curtain opened between that world and earth. Colonists started coming over and everything was fine until the curtain suddenly closed stranding them away from earth and her technology. Conditions on Harmony were a bit different from earth, so long story short, people started developing psychic talents and the means to control them and they also started bonding with dust bunnies. They also discover that aliens previously lived on this planet, and though they are gone, they left tunnels and artifacts behind. (This may sound like Castle’s St. Helen’s Trilogy, but it isn’t. I consider those books to be kind of like proto-Harmony books, but they aren’t connected though some of the themes and world building a very similar). This particular book features Sedona Snow (which if you have read the Eclipse Bay series ought to ring all sorts of bells), her faithful dust bunny Lyle, and Cyrus Jones (yes, one of those Jones’s). Cyrus has been brought on to Rainshadow Island as the Guild Boss for the newly established Rainshadow Guild. Shenanigans are had, mysteries are solved, dust bunnies have a superb time, and two people who think they may just be all wrong for each other turn out to be exactly right.
So, yes, these books are formulaic in the extreme. But somehow, they almost always turn out to be more than the sum of their parts. The characters have different talents, different struggles and (sometimes) different personalities. Plus, there are dust bunnies and I just can’t emphasize enough how they are really just as enjoyable as the romance. I find myself picking this series up and re-reading on a somewhat regular basis. They are fun, and they are fun the second or even third time you read them. And that is without all the tiny little linkings to all those other series. Digging in to the linkings just increases the fun factor, for me, exponentially.