Dust bunnies save the day

The Hot Zone - Jayne Castle

I haven’t enjoyed this author’s new novels in recent years, but this one, her latest, reminded me why she was on the bestsellers’ lists for decades. A surprisingly charming novel, it belongs to the genre of futuristic romance – a romantic story set in some ‘not-quite’ here and now but very close.
The action unfolds on another planet, which humans colonized a couple centuries ago. Everyone on this planet has developed some psychic powers, and the author comes up with different variations of such powers for every new novel in the series.

The society remains quasi-American, but the technology is reduced. The planet is studded by mysterious Alien ruins, above and below ground, and nothing hi-tech works in those ruins. And of course, the action must take place in those very ruins too. Very convenient for a writer who wants her plot set in a modern society but without modern gadgets. Let’s be done with computers and cell phones and drop modern Americans into a place where only knives work. And dust bunnies.
Those who follow this writer’s futuristic series know about the dust bunnies. Those who are new to her – I won’t spoil your pleasure at discovering dust bunnies for yourself. I will only say that they are pets, intelligent and funny, and they choose their masters/mistresses.
Aside from a dust bunny or two, the story is a classic romance. A young woman Sedona is on the run from her tragic past and dangerous secrets. Her pet and companion, dust bunny Lyle, is always there for her, providing a daring rescue, when needed, and a comic relief, when convenient. Sedona ends up on a small island, where she is accepted into the community of misfits. But her past is catching up with her fast, and even her faithful Lyle is not enough to help her this time.
Enter Cyrus, Sedona’s counterpart in the story. A powerful man and an alpha male, Cyrus is not as well defined as Sedona but he works too – as a foil for her. Together, they thwart the bad guys’ plans and of course, fall in love.
The story is formulaic and predictable, like everything Ms. Castle has written, but there is comfort in that predictability, and the execution is superb. The writing is clean and terse, the dialog flows, and the tension rises on schedule.
I really feasted on this story: quick and delicious.