Review: The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle
Published August 26th 2014 by Piatkus Books
Review copy received from the publisher
Let’s start this review with a disclaimer: I have never read any of the Rainshadow books before. Neither have I read anything in the Harmony series before. Going into a series within a series blank like this usually is a terrible idea – but actually it worked out fine!
The planet of Harmony is suffused with psi-energy, a force that can be used by people with para-psychological talents. One of those people is Sedona, who can open and close gates in the Underworld, a vast network of caves left behind by Aliens. Trying to have a normal-ish life, Sedona however, ends up as guinea pig for an evil scientist, and then a Guild boss starts to show interest in her. What’s going on, and how is it all connected?
Science-fiction romance is not a genre I’m well-versed in, but as far as I can tell, The Hot Zone ticks all the boxes. We have a heroine that can take care of herself, a swoon-worthy hero, plenty of action and intruige, and an animal sidekick. I can’t say much about the world-building, not having touched the ten other Harmony books – all I can judge is the bit I’ve seen in The Hot Zone. From what I’ve seen it’s not terribly complex (or I wouldn’t have had such an easy time reading this book), but it’s functional for plenty of drama. There are many different parties including powerful Guild bosses, some kind of Society, the Arcane, and other families that hold sway in Harmony.
The atmosphere of the Rainshadow island was quite spooky. On one hand there is a mysterious Preserve, but underneath is also the Underworld, where big scary monsters live. The book is set around Halloween, and the main character lives on a cemetery, which makes the gloomy atmosphere even more appealing.
Since it’s a romance, I’ll touch upon the romance as well. It was good. Very decent romance. There was no insta-love as there was plenty of time for them to bond. There are some sexy times. They have small hurdles to conquer in their relationship, but generally everything develops smoothly (though quickly) and by the end of the book all problems are solved.
My biggest gripe with this book is the emphasis on family. I get that it’s part of how things work on Harmony – being born out of wedlock is unacceptable and marriage is super-duper important. They’re kind of obsessed with bloodlines and the abilities being passed down, and honestly, it just didn’t work for me. Just because your great-grandmother had certain genes, scientifically the chances of you resembling her that much are super tiny. Just because you’re family, it doesn’t mean you’ll be anything like the others in your family. The constant and repetitive mentioning of families just grated on my nerves.
Apart from familial issues, The Hot Zone is a pretty cool book. It’s readable, entertaining, exciting. And on top of that, it’s perfectly readable if you haven’t read any of the other books – although you probably get more out of the story if you have.
The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island. Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret…
Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true. Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick. But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare. Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.
And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her. Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town. He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow…
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