When She Dreams, by Amanda Quick

May 3, 2022 Book Reviews 3 ★★★★

When She Dreams, by Amanda QuickWhen She Dreams Series: Burning Cove #6
Published by Berkley on May 3, 2022
Genres: Historical Mystery, Historical romantic suspense
Pages: 315
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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four-stars
Also in this series: The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Tightrope

Return to 1930s Burning Cove, California, the glamorous seaside playground for Hollywood stars, mobsters, spies, and a host of others who find more than they bargain for in this mysterious town.

Maggie Lodge, assistant to the reclusive advice columnist known only as Dear Aunt Cornelia to her readers, hires down-but-not-quite-out private eye Sam Sage to help track down the person who is blackmailing her employer. Maggie and Sam are a mismatched pair. As far as Sam is concerned, Maggie is reckless and in over her head. She is not what he had in mind for a client but he can't afford to be choosy. Maggie, on the other hand, is convinced that Sam is badly in need of guidance and good advice. She does not hesitate to give him both.

In spite of the verbal fireworks between them, they are fiercely attracted to each other, but each is convinced it would be a mistake to let passion take over. They are, after all, keeping secrets from each other. Sam is haunted by his past, which includes a marriage shattered by betrayal and violence. Maggie is troubled by intense and vivid dreams—dreams that she can sometimes control. There are those who want to run experiments on her and use her for their own purposes, while others think she should be committed to an asylum.

When the pair discovers someone is impersonating Aunt Cornelia at a conference on psychic dreaming and a woman dies at the conference, the door is opened to a dangerous web of blackmail and murder. Secrets from the past are revealed, leaving Maggie and Sam in the path of a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to exact vengeance.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

This book contains mature content and may not be suitable for younger readers.

Sheer, unadulterated fun

Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) tends to recycle a number of her themes and plot devices in her books, and you know what? I don’t care. Her books are fun and fast-paced, full of snappy dialogue, smart and independent main characters, romance, convoluted plots, and the kind of almost playful suspense that keeps me turning pages without giving me nightmares. Her books are auto-buys for me, and I no sooner finish one than I’m checking the web to see when the next one is due out.

When She Dreams is, by any measure, a typical Krentz/Quick novel—and as I’ve just pointed out, that’s a compliment. Maggie Lodge, the assistant to the reclusive advice columnist, Aunt Cornelia, hires ex-cop-turned-PI Sam Sage to find out who is blackmailing her employer. The blackmailer’s note directs Aunt Cornelia to attend a lucid-dreaming conference in Burning Cove. Maggie herself is a strong lucid dreamer, with a psychic sensitivity to negative energies associated with physical objects. When a fake Aunt Cornelia is photographed at the conference, Maggie decides that she and Sam will attend the conference together, with Sam posing as her research assistant. Once there, they find themselves in the midst of an increasingly complex case involving blackmail, impersonation, fraud, and even murder—a case that will threaten both their lives.

Maggie is, like just about all JAK/AQ heroines, strongwilled, smart, determined, independent, and attractive. She clearly has more than a touch of psychic ability along with her lucid-dreaming talent. Past experience has made her extremely wary of marriage. Although the Burning Cove books take place in the 1930s, Maggie (like the other heroines of this series) is fairly modern in her views on women’s roles and capabilities. She reminds of some of the intelligent, independent movie heroines of the era.

Sam is just emerging from a career crash-and-burn and a divorce. He’s trying to pick up the pieces and use his skills as a private eye instead of a police detective. He doesn’t appreciate Maggie’s propensity to take charge of the investigation, nor the advice she clearly can’t stop herself from giving… but he is irresistibly drawn to her anyway. As for Maggie, she sees in Sam the perfect model for the hero of the novel she is writing—or perhaps I should say, imperfect model, because it’s Sam’s hard edges and imperfections that make him a better choice than the suave perfection of her original fictional hero.

As I inimated above, if you’re familiar with the author’s earlier books, particularly written as Jayne Ann Krentz, you will recognize some of the themes and plot devices. Dreams and lucid dreaming are a focus of a number of Krentz’s books, both prior to and as part of her Arcane Society novels. Maggie’s slight psychic talent, an ability to sense the dark energies on objects associated with violence or despair, hearkens back to a number of books both within, related to, and seperate from the Arcane novels (which focus on characters with extremely high levels of psychic talent.) There’s also the mad-scientist-obsessed-with-the-heroine’s-talent trope, which, while not the central focus of the mystery, does add to the danger as well as the complications of the case.

The only place where When She Dreams falters slightly is the historical setting. Ms. Krentz does a good job of capturing the glamour of 1930s Hollywood-adjacent society in Burning Cove. Conspicuously missing, however, are the widespread struggles of the Great Depression. But then, it would be an entirely different sort of novel if those were included: more realistic, perhaps, but a lot less fun. Which brings me full circle to my first paragraph: JAK’s books are sheer, unadulterated fun, and I’m never going to stop reading them. When’s the next one scheduled? 😉

four-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Seasons 2022: Spring
  • COYER Seasons 2022: Winter

3 Responses to “When She Dreams, by Amanda Quick”

  1. Nicole @ BookWyrm Knits

    Thanks for the great review! I don’t think I realized before that Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz were the same person. Huh. This sounds like a fun book, though, and you’re right: fun books are just that. Fun. And I’m always going to gravitate toward fun reads, too.
    Nicole @ BookWyrm Knits recently posted…WIP Wrap-up for April 2022My Profile

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