After a considerable hiatus, Jayne Ann Krentz has returned to her Jayne Castle persona and produced another of her futuristic paranormal romances. After Dark is set on the world of Harmony (first introduced in a short story as part of the Charmed anthology) and is not dissimilar to the world of New St. Helens featured in her series Amaryllis, Orchid and Zinnia. On Harmony, however, the original residents left behind cities filled with ghostly green energy and a few artifacts eagerly pursued by paranormally skilled archaeologists.
Although Lydia Smith, ex-academic, and Emmett London, mysterious businessman, are present from the very beginning of this tale, there is a considerable amount of what Star Trek fans call "techno-babble" here - it is to Ms. Krentz' credit that it doesn't overwhelm the romance that slowly blooms between Lydia and Emmett. Lydia is attempting to regain her professional reputation after a mind-blowing accident in the catacombs; Emmett London is looking for someone to help him find a stolen family artifact - or so he says! Hmmm. As always, Jayne Ann Krentz' protagonists are perfectly drawn - Lydia's feisty defensiveness is very understandable in light of her prior experiences, and Emmett's attraction to her slowly overrides his natural caution. Whether the setting is a coffee shop in Seattle, or a small apartment next to New Cadence City, the fundamentals of a Krentz book are the same: romance all the way!
However, this particular book marks a slight departure from Krentz' other works in that much more time is spent on the plot and Lydia and Emmett's adventures instead of their romance. In many ways, this detracts from our enjoyment of their budding affair, and reduces this story to more of a science fiction whodunit with a dash of romance, rather than the vintage breathless pursuit of passion played out against an interesting storyline that we have come to expect from Jayne Ann. Make no mistake, this is a fascinating read about an appealing new environment and the romance is there, but not at the intense levels usually found in Krentz' books. There is little chance for sensuality to develop between Lydia and Emmett - focus is placed to a much greater extent on the Harmony Guild politics and descriptions of how to resonate amber to hunt ghosts or de-rezz ghost traps! (You'll have to read it to find out!!)
If you are a Jayne Ann Krentz fan, then go ahead and try this book - it is definitely a good, if unusual, read! If you're a paranormal romance fan, try Amaryllis, Orchid or Zinnia first to really experience Krentz' masterful skills with otherworldly sensuality!