Hidden Talents by Jayne Ann Krentz

July 18, 2017 Book Reviews 4 ★★★½

Hidden Talents by Jayne Ann KrentzHidden Talents on 1993
Pages: 416
Purchase: Amazon
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Serenity Makepeace knows a lot about whole-grain bread, but she doesn't know beans about business. She's expanding her natural foods emporium to sell local handicrafts by mail—which she hopes will benefit her offbeat artist community in Witt's End, Washington. But she needs a crack financial adviser to make her dream a reality—so she charms her way into the office of Caleb Ventress, a handsome wolf in conservative clothing.

An expert in the art of the deal, Caleb isn't sure what to make of the unconventional Serenity—but there's no doubt he's attracted. A pass from a paragon of conformity—even one as handsome as Caleb—is more than free-spirited Serenity bargained for. But when a lethal blackmailer threatens her plans and perhaps her life, she puts her whole trust in the man who seems her complete opposite—and the net result might be true love.


Earlier this spring, I went on a Jayne Ann Krentz binge, and read or re-read a lot of her backlist, at least of the last 10 or 15 years. Hidden Talents is older than that—almost 25 years old—and while I didn’t love it as much as some of her more recent titles, it was still a fun read.

The relationship between free spirit Serenity and tightly-controlled Caleb works surprisingly well, but even given his backstory, I thought Caleb overreacted to the substance of the blackmail threat. Krentz provides plenty of plot twists and surprises—almost too many: the final reveal regarding the blackmailer’s identity introduced a connection and motive for which there were almost no prior clues. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story as well as the community of “misfits” that make up Witt’s End, and was rather surprised that she never used or referred the village in any of her other books (at least not any I’ve read.)

As one of Krentz’s older titles (it was published in 1993), Hidden Talents is a bit dated: there are no cell phones, Serenity is starting a mail-order catalog rather than selling online, and so on. Even the blackmail threat would be less likely to work on a contemporary hero today. The relationship dynamics are also slightly dated, though not uncomfortably so. On the other hand, many of the elements work just as well now as they did 24-years ago, and Krentz’s style and voice are unmistakable. I don’t think I would read this one a second time, but ETA: I actually did read this again (in 2021), and I did enjoy it.


About Jayne Ann Krentz

author photo of Jayne Ann Krentz (2018 photo by Marc von Borstel)

The author of over 40 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense, often with a psychic and paranormal twist, in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 30 million copies of her books in print.

She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.

Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington.

Pseudonyms: Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick, Stephanie James, Jayne Bentley, Jayne Taylor, Amanda Glass.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • The Backlist Reader Challenge 2017

4 Responses to “Hidden Talents by Jayne Ann Krentz”

  1. Quinn's Book Nook

    When I first discovered the romance genre, I read a few Jayne Ann Krentz books. But it was such a long time ago that I can’t remember at all what I read. This one doesn’t sound familiar, but I am wanting to jump back into her books. Any suggestions on where to start? I am looking for ones with the focus on the romance, although I don’t mind suspense. Just more focus on the romance.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I’ve found that her much older ones focus more on the romance, but also sometimes have romance tropes or situations that are not only dated, but sexist. Most of the books she’s written in the last 10 or 15 years have a strong mystery/suspense element to them, but the romance is still an important part of the book. If you like a paranormal bent with ESP-type powers, I really enjoy her Arcane Society novels, which are split between her three writing personas (Amanda Quick, historical; Jayne Ann Krentz, contemporary; Jayne Castle, futuristic sci-fi/fantasy.) If you don’t like that, try When All The Girls Have Gone, River Road, Trust No One (which I really like but haven’t reviewed yet), Secret Sisters, or Eye of the Beholder.

  2. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I’ve really enjoyed the Jayne Ann Krentz I’ve read and would really love to do a back list binge of her books. I know what you mean by uncomfortably dated (Nora Roberts had one where the heroine was 24 but a virgin and ended up involved with her much older and much more experienced new boss. It was just creepy) and I’m glad to see that this isn’t one of them. It’s fun sometimes to read popular fiction that was written pre-internet. How did we survive without being able to access everything online?

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Libraries. 😉 And word of mouth.

      Yes, I’ve read a few early Nora Roberts books that made me uncomfortable, too. They might not have at the time they were written, but over the years I, like (some of) the rest our culture, have become more aware of things like the power dynamics in relationships, and the ways in which “the patriarchy” is played out in individual interactions.