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Review: Bump in the Night by J.D. Robb, et al.

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading, Writing | Posted on 01-12-2007

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cover of Bump in the Night
This para­nor­mal romance anthol­o­gy con­tains four novel­las. I’d nev­er heard of three of the authors, but I haven’t real­ly looked to see what else they’ve writ­ten, either.1 They may be well-known to romance fans. I fell into read­ing J.D. Robb’s books because of the sci­ence fiction/​mystery angle, and didn’t ini­tial­ly know that J.D. Robb is a pseu­do­nym for well-known romance author Nora Roberts.2 Her romances may be great, but I’m not inter­est­ed in them. I’m actu­al­ly get­ting pret­ty damned tired of the para­nor­mal romance thing, but since any­body who writes them seems to be able to get a book con­tract, I doubt they’ll stop flood­ing the mar­ket any time soon. I try to stick to the ones that have more plot than romance, but some­times it’s hard to tell where a book will fall. Lau­rell Hamil­ton, for instance, began writ­ing real­ly good dark fan­ta­sy books that got a lit­tle sexy, and now she’s writ­ing romance nov­els that hap­pen to have vam­pires and were­crit­ters in them.3

It’s often said that we read fic­tion to get more of some­thing that’s miss­ing in our lives. I’m gift­ed with a part­ner who is one of the most roman­tic, lov­ing peo­ple in this world, and, to be blunt, we have a great, um, pri­vate life, which may explain why I don’t find romances or erot­i­ca much of a draw. I don’t have many mys­ter­ies or much out-and-out adven­ture in my life (thank­ful­ly!), so I enjoy read­ing about them in fic­tion­al char­ac­ters’ lives — espe­cial­ly if they take place in set­tings com­plete­ly unlike my own world.

Any­way, on to the review.

The book opens with “Haunt­ed in Death” by J.D. Robb, which her read­ers will imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nize as an Eve Dal­las sto­ry4 Robb/​Roberts is a pro, and the sto­ry is a decent read. But! Is it just me, or are the Eve-Roarke fights and rec­on­cil­i­a­tions get­ting more and more bor­ing? They’re always about the same thing!

“Poppy’s Coin” by Mary Blayney was my favorite of this anthol­o­gy. Yes, it was obvi­ous from the couple’s first encounter how the rela­tion­ship would go, but that’s the way it is with the entire romance genre, isn’t it? I might actu­al­ly look for more of Blayney’s work at some point. After look­ing at her web site, I don’t think I’ll be read­ing any of her nov­els. I learned that there’s anoth­er anthol­o­gy fea­tur­ing these same four authors, Dead of Night, and that the pub­lish­er has con­tract­ed them for a third vol­ume, as yet unnamed. Blayney’s piece in the sec­ond col­lec­tion seems to be con­nect­ed with “Poppy’s Coin,” so I’ll prob­a­bly take a look at it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, hav­ing read this one sto­ry and the descrip­tions of her nov­els, it seems that she’s stuck in some­thing of a rut. I can’t say more with­out giv­ing spoil­ers for this sto­ry, so I’ll leave it to you to vis­it her site if you want to know more.

Ruth Ryan Lan­gan’s “The Pas­sen­ger” was okay, I guess. Maybe. Some­thing about the male pro­tag­o­nist set my teeth on edge right away, and I would have kicked his oh-so-self-assured butt out of my abode as soon as he referred to him­self by his famous moniker. Then again, I’d also tell the female lead to put on her big girl panties and get on her with life, as she comes across as way too emo for my tastes. Lan­gan needs to remem­ber to “show, not tell.” I might have giv­en her a bit of a pass in a short sto­ry, but this is a novel­la. She had plen­ty of word-count in which to show us some­thing pos­i­tive about her char­ac­ters, instead of label­ing them.

I near­ly stopped read­ing the book when I got to “Mel­low Lemon Yel­low” by Mary Kay McCo­mas. I was total­ly dis­in­ter­est­ed in read­ing about anoth­er whiny chick, right after Langan’s sto­ry. I didn’t feel any con­nec­tion at all. I fin­ished out of sheer dogged­ness, and will prob­a­bly for­get the sto­ry and the author very quick­ly. I can hope, any­way.

If you’re a com­pletist, as I am, and you read the In Death books, you’ll want to read this vol­ume. If I col­lect­ed the nov­els5, I’d buy this one used if at all pos­si­ble. As it is, I’m glad I checked it out of the library instead of invest­ing any mon­ey in it.


1 Well, I hadn’t done so before I began writ­ing this review. I looked up their web sites to link to them, obvi­ous­ly.

2 Well-known to romance fans, any­way. I hadn’t heard of her before read­ing the Robb books. Come to think of it, the first thing I read by Robb was anoth­er anthol­o­gy, Out of This World, which I picked up because of the Ani­ta Blake novel­la in it. That was before I real­ized that all such novel­las are real­ly the first chunk of Hamilton’s next nov­el, and if I read them it spoils some of the plea­sure I’d oth­er­wise find in that nov­el.

3 I con­sid­er the Ani­ta Blake books to be her first nov­els. That hor­rid Night­seer thing is just a bad tran­scrip­tion of somebody’s role­play­ing cam­paign. If I were Hamil­ton, I would have acquired and destroyed every copy in exis­tence, then prayed that the world would for­get about it.

4 They’re all enti­tled “(some­thing) in Death.”

5 I don’t, as I don’t antic­i­pate ever want­i­ng to re-read them.

Comments (1)

That’s an inter­est­ing idea, that we seek in fic­tion things we lack in life. I’m not entire­ly sure what my recent read­ing would say about what I lack — I’ll have to think about it.