Review: The Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick

While definitely not one of Quick's better novels, this one did keep me moving fairly briskly through the pages--and did serve up a surprise or two.

I have several complaints about the novel, but primarily, my complaint rests with the characters. I just didn't enjoy either the heroine or hero as much as I usually do with Quick's books. Normally, the plot is secondary to the characters. The heroine is usually quite well developed. The hero is almost always a broody sort. But in this, I felt like I didn't really know that much about either character. They felt shallow to me. Almost overwhelmed by the paranormal and suspense parts of the book. And that disappointed me.

Griffin Winters, our hero, is a crime boss with a long family history involving "talents." A paranormal/psychic ability to manipulate energy and thoughts. His family is the counterpoint to the Jones family, founders of the Arcane Society.

Part of my problem is that Griffin  did not seem menacing enough to be a crime lord. Yes, he's the hero, but it felt like Quick copped out on making him actually act villainous.  I just didn't believe he could have controlled a crime syndicate without breaking more than a few rules that our heroine would find repulsive.  I guess I was hoping for more of a redemption theme here. He's not really all that bad, so there's not that much to redeem.

I would have liked to see a bit more emotional depth to our heroine, Adelaide Pyne, too. There are vague references to her past in the wilds of the American West, but we don't see much of her emotional reaction to her experiences--except at the very beginning. She's very matter of fact. Practical. But her lack of reaction to just about everything made her seem shallow, not brave.

Also missing is the quirky sense of humor that is in most Quick novels. Usually exemplified by the hero's frustration that the heroine is hard to figure out. I didn't see that kind of interplay here, and I missed it.

Another pet peeve of mine is that nearly all of the intimate moments in this book come after a psychic event. After they've used their powers. And almost seem to take place 'under the influence' of those powers. There's no real intimacy. No real romance. Just a frantic coupling in the aftermath that seems rather hollow to me.

The suspense part of the book was actually better than Quick's normal plots, with a few twists I didn't see coming. I loved the very gothic overtones of this book.  Hidden passages, secret panels, a few madmen running around. Very Castle of Otranto.

I'm afraid I'm getting  a little tired of the cross promotion between the Krentz books and the Quick books. Yes, Jayne Ann Krentz writes under both names (as well as under Jayne Castle. She's a busy lady). But what was once an interesting idea now seems more like a cheap marketing ploy to make sure everyone is aware that she writes both contemporary and historical romances.

I've read every  Amanda Quick book. Every single one. And unfortunately, this one ranks right towards the bottom. It's worth a few hours of time to read, but it is not memorable in any way. I'm glad I got this one from the library.

My Grade: C+

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