After going all of 2005 without a DIK, it was wonderful to close All Night Long with a big smile on my face - 2006 was off to a good start. My joy was made greater by the fact that Jayne Ann Krentz is a long time favorite who continues to deliver the goods, while several of my other "comfort" reads authors have unfortunately jumped the shark.
Krentz's greatest strength is in creating wonderful characters the reader cares about and putting very believable and often clever dialogue in their mouths. Also, her men sound like men! Both of these strong points are on display here, but what makes it beyond enjoyable and into DIK territory is that the author served up a riveting mystery with a result that kept me guessing right to the end of the book.
Irene Stenson returns to her hometown of Dunsley, California after an absence of many years. Irene would never have returned home had she not received a mysterious request from an old friend. Pamela Webb was a spoiled rich girl who had been Irene’s friend for one summer when they were teens. Their friendship ended the night Pamela dropped Irene off at her home and Irene walked in on a scene of carnage that had left her parents dead. The police decide that their deaths were a murder/suicide and blamed her father for killing her mother and himself. Irene was never comfortable with this decision, but what could she do/have done about it?
Before meeting Pamela, Irene checks into a rundown motel and meets the proprietor ex-Marine Luke Danner. They feel an instant attraction and Irene wonders why such an obviously dynamic man is running a motel in her sleepy hometown. Luke is recovering from what his family thinks is post-traumatic stress syndrome from his stint in the Marines in the Middle East.
Luke is also intrigued by Irene and when he sees her leaving the motel late at night, he is concerned and follows her to her meeting with Pamela. Luke’s help is immediately needed as she finds Pamela dead of an apparent self-administered overdose. Pamela’s death launches Luke and Irene on a search for the reason Pamela wanted Irene to come to Dunsley. The search eventually involves the most prominent citizens of Dunsley, including a U.S. Senator, leading the pair into a morass of scandal, sexual activity, and murder. The plot involves sexual perversion, which I can’t identify without a bigBIG spoiler, but the author handles this very well - she portrays to the reader the damage of the acts without becoming overly graphic.
Irene and Luke are a quintessential Krentz couple; they reminded me of other Krentz/Quick favorites like Nick and Philadelphia (Golden Chance), Gideon and Harriet (Ravished), and especially Joel and Letty from Perfect Partners. Irene is a reporter, strong and independent on the surface, but carrying the baggage of her parent's horrible deaths. Luke is not as wounded as his family thinks, and is immediately drawn to both the strength in Irene and able to see the pain and uncertainty that she tries to keep carefully hidden from the world. Luke is one of the author's patented cuddly alphas, who are quick to realize that they have met their soul mate and will do anything to keep her. As with the best of Krentz's couples, the two acknowledge their immediate attraction and trust each other as they work to solve the mystery of Pamela’s death. This is one of the reasons I read JAK. I hate romances where couples refuse to trust the person who is supposed to be the love-of-their-life...worse even is that distrust causing betrayal of the other.
The dialogue is one of All Night Long's highlights, and one scene rivals the infamous and LOL "blow job" scene from Perfect Partners. Luke’s family is very interesting and his interaction with them also provided great amusement. Thankfully there are a couple of characters in Luke’s family who look like they could be featured in a sequel; this is a good thing because Luke and Irene are definitely people I would like to meet again.
-- Linda Hurst
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