So I picked up a few new books the other weekend. The new JAK, Running Hot, and the new Kay Hooper, Blood Sins. I also picked up the new Andrew Greely, The Archbishop in Andalusia. What with one thing and another, I haven't gotten around to reading the last one yet. I'm hoping to get to that one over the upcoming long weekend.
As for the first two, I liked them. A lot. They are two of my favorite authors and fairly dependable. That said, I didn't love them. Why? Well ...
The new JAK is part of her Arcane Society series about a secret group of people with extrasensory abilities. JAK gave us the usual banter between the hero and heroine and in general lived up to her earlier books. My main problem with this book, and the Arcane Society series in general, is the idea of this secret society. See, it's not very secret, as far as I can tell. You've got the hero and the heroine, the guy who sends the H&H into the Dangerous Situation, the folks the hero normally works for, the heroine's previous employer, the new head of the Arcane Society and, so far, at least 3 Bad Guys each getting their own henchman, and a few peripheral characters. That's, uh, about a dozen characters who are either members of this Secret Society or member of the equally Secret Evil Rival Society. And this is just one book of a series. And this Arcane Society has been around for a few hundred years. I'm thinking, ya know, it's not such a secret anymore.
But that's just me. The banter is fun, the bad guys are appropriately twisted, and once I let go of my hang up about the secretiveness of this society I did still enjoy the book.
The new Kay Hooper is also part of a series, an offshoot of the FBI run by a guy named Bishop who has, and also employs people with, paranormal powers (notice a trend here?) in the pursuit of justice against Big Bad Guys with paranormal powers. Once again, there are an awful lot of people running around with this extra ability. And because, like JAK, Hooper writes romance, you get a new H&H with every book. So it's not just the folks within this secret (there's that word again) arm of the FBI; its all these other people who get recruited into saving the world, or their love interests who usually turn out to have their own something extra. Okay, I could deal with all of that. And in fact I really enjoyed the Bishop series initially. What's getting to me is a tendency for the characters to spontaneously sprout a new psychic ability in the nick of time. I just don't see that as playing fair with the reader; it's a violation of some kind of rule of fiction. Okay, there needs to be a big climatic scene where it appears that the hero and/or heroine just might not make it. That goes with. It's part of the suspense even when you know that good will ultimately triumph. But the new powers thing? That's like giving Batman x-ray vision just because he's in a tough spot. I don't think the author should change the rules just to accommodate the good guys. As I said recently to someone else who had read the book, Hooper should just dispense with the romance angle and write paranormal suspense using Bishop and Co. as her ongoing cast of characters. Like a Justice League kind of thing.
I'm not throwing either of these books against the wall in disgust; in fact, I think both writers are very good. Just not writing up to their potential. But that's just me. You should form your own opinion.