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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.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- The Backlist Reader Challenge 2017