Untouchable is 100% romantic suspense that delivers on all the feels.
Jayne Ann Krentz is a stalwart in the romance field — she's written more than 120 novels, under the pen names Amanda Quick (historical romantic suspense), Jayne Castle (futuristic/paranormal romantic suspense), and — under her own name — contemporary romantic suspense.
Untouchable is the third book in Krentz's best-selling series about the foster sons of Anson Salinas, featuring the return of big bad Quinton Zane — and this time around, Zane's not alone. He's found both hedge-fund wealth and his long-lost biological father, which means he has everything he needs to get rid of Anson's sons, starting with Jack Lancaster.
Why is Quinton Zane obsessed with this family? Frankly, it's mutual: Anson and his sons run a Seattle detective agency, and they've been hunting Zane — a former cult leader — for years. Anson blames Zane for the fire that killed his sons' mothers, while Zane blames Anson for the end of his cult.
For the sake of full disclosure, I haven't read the first two books in the series. But let me assure you, I didn't feel left in the dark while reading Untouchable — and neither will you. It's a complicated, suspenseful novel that also delivers a riveting romance.
As the story begins, we meet our power players: Jack, our emotionally battered hero, and Winter, the resourceful, uniquely talented heroine. Jack is an FBI consultant who specializes in cold cases and has a thing for investigating arson. He uses his unique ability with lucid dreaming to connect with the minds of criminals — so naturally, he's first on Quinton Zane's hit list. Winter Meadows (and yes, I found her name a bit over-the-top) is Jack's meditation instructor and a dream therapist. She's also the pawn Zane uses to get to Jack.
As I've said, this is a book with a complicated plot — but I kept turning the pages as our hero and heroine figured out Zane's schemes, all while guiding me through the hills and valleys of suspense and romance with skill and even an occasional dose of humor.
Untouchable picks up its already action-packed pace when Jack and Winter go on the run, and things get even tenser as we learn more about Quinton Zane and his partners in crime. Don't be fooled: Zane is not a one-note bad guy. He is methodical and relentless, he forces Jack and Winter to take risk after colossal risk, and it'll take more than just our heroes to bring him down.
Winter's advanced skills in hypnotism were a challenge for me — even though they saved her life more than once. We meet her as a teenager, already a master of her gift, and I needed more context to explain why and how she could hypnotize someone within seconds of meeting them.
On the other hand, I bought Jack's lucid dreaming capabilities hook, line, and sinker, and his history with Zane made for compelling motivation. He doesn't fall into the standard alpha action hero category — seriously, he's at his crime-solving best when sound asleep. In fact, that's another thing to love about Jack (whom you may be able to tell I have a crush on): he comes across as more brains than brawn. He isn't even a good shot. And when he's fighting for his life, he conveys an intense vulnerability — a trait I enjoy in my beta male heroes.
Now, I've mentioned rolling my eyes at some of Winter's hypnotic tricks. But Untouchable has a few other flaws to consider — particularly a few dialogue passages in the middle of the book that slow the action. Krentz doesn't stick to the typical police procedural approach to crime solving I've found in romantic suspense novels by authors like Laura Griffin or J.D. Robb. In Untouchable, our heroes often discover critical clues through dreams and discussions — leaving me longing now and then for less dialogue and more action.
The last quarter of the book, however, is classic romantic suspense with Jack and Winter pushed to their limits by a villain who seems unbeatable. A tension-filled fight sequence near the end of the novel has Jack stepping out of his beta shell long enough to do some alpha-hero damage. And then, when you think you've figured out how the story will end — there's another breathtaking surprise.
A thoroughly enjoyable romantic suspense novel, Untouchable is another winner by Jayne Ann Krentz.
Denny S. Bryce is an aspiring author of historical fiction and urban fantasy/paranormal romance. She writes for NPR Books and Washington Independent Review of Books. You can follow her on Twitter: @dennysbryce