Silver Linings - Jayne Ann Krentz This is Krentz at her best. I like everything she’s written between 1990 and 2005, no matter under which of her three nom de plumes – Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, or Jayne Castle – a novel is published. This one is a contemporary romance, and despite the lack of internet and cell phones, it reads as well today as it did in 1991.
On page one, the protagonist Mattie stumbles upon a dying man on the floor of his island villa. You don’t get more in medias res than that. Upon exiting the villa in a state of shocked panic – entirely understandable: the man had a bullet hole in his chest – Mattie runs headlong into Hugh, a guy who had rejected her love a year ago. He takes her on a jaunt through the jungle to escape the bad guys, and of course, romantic tangles ensue, inescapable and exciting.
As it should be in a formulaic romance, the action rolls non-stop from the start, packed tightly like sardines in a tin. The dialog is sharp and exaggerated, fun to read. The locale is exotic and the relationship steamy. And the protagonists are of course the opposites that attract. While she is a gallery owner, sophisticated and reserved, a refined urbanite, he is at home in a jungle, a former mercenary with a past. The author paints him as a mix between a Neanderthal with fast reflexes and a knight in shining armor. I admit I’ve never met such a man. He doesn’t seem real, more like a woman’s dream, but it’s nice to dream sometimes.
Every time my mood plummets, I pick up one of Krentz’s novels, and they serve me faithfully, better than any antidepressant. I own many of them. Like salve for the soul, they’re swift and sweet, although utterly interchangeable. No literary nourishment, just a reading candy, and this one is no exception. I’ve read it at least three times and I still enjoyed it.
I must add that in my view, Krentz is peerless at building her plot arch. In most of her novels, this one included, the story structure is extremely focused, elegant in its transparency. As a beginner writer, I learned story structure from Krentz’s books, analyzed them like writing manuals. I’d recommend them for every new writer, as guidebooks on constructing a good plot. I’d also recommend them to any fan of romance novels, although you should pay attention to the publishing date. Anything published before 1990 or after 2005 is a suspect. Anything published during the above-mentioned interval is either a bestseller or a darn-good book.