Reading Pathways

Reading Pathways: Jayne Ann Krentz

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Alison Doherty

Senior Contributor

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

Jayne Ann Krentz is a romance icon. She’s written over 120 romance novels in almost every sub-genre you can imagine. She writes contemporary, suspense, paranormal, and historical. She even pioneered the concept of futuristic romance with her 1986 novel Sweet Starfire. Along with writing all these different stories, she’s also been a fearless advocate for the genre. She edited and contributed to the nonfiction essay collection Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance to help people start taking romance more seriously and view the genre through a more academic lens.

Jayne Ann Krentz wrote under seven different names throughout her writing career. She’s done this in part because of legal reasons, but also to help her readers differentiate between her very different books. Now she only writes under three names. Her contemporary suspense romances are written under Jayne Ann Krentz, while her very popular historical novels are written under the pseudonym Amanda Quick. And, her futuristic science fiction romance novels are written under her maiden name Jayne Castle. All three of these different names and categories will appear on my list below.

If you’ve never read a Jayne Ann Krentz book, here are three suggestions for where to start. I’m including one of my absolute favorites from each of her biggest sub-genres. If you know you love one category more than the other, please feel free to skip around. There’s really no wrong Jayne Ann Krentz book to begin with!

Absolutely Positively Book Cover

Absolutely, Positively by Jayne Ann Krentz

Start with Absolutely, Positively especially if contemporary romance is your jam. This mid-’90s novel stands out to me as quintessential Jayne Ann Krentz romance. By which I mean there is a very strong-willed heroine, a quirky family, light suspense and paranormal storylines (seriously so light), and high amounts of humor and sexy scenes. Molly is a trustee of her late father’s scientific foundation. Harry is the scientist she hired to help her decide what projects to help fund. At first, they couldn’t seem more different. Molly is driven by emotions, while Harry is ruled by logic. But the chemistry between them is deep, both in their back-and-forth banter and (eventually) in the bedroom. And it turns out that Harry has a family and past connected with paranormal premonitions that will become handy when a rejected grantee begins threatening Molly’s life.

Ravished Book Cover

Ravished by Amanda Quick

Next read Ravished written under Jayne Ann Krentz’s pen name, Amanda Quick. This historical romance takes us back to the Regency for a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a dash of paleontology! Harriet is an awkward, nerdy wallflower who is obsessed with fossils. When she discovers thieves are using the caves she’s been exploring to hide their jewels, she enlists the help of the viscount Gideon to help protect her fossils and get rid of them. He has become a social pariah because of his scandalous past and scared face. But Harriet doesn’t know any of that, because she pays little attention to London society. A very swoony romance unfolds between them, leading to one of my all time favorite tropes. A marriage of convenience. This book is equal parts zany and sexy, along with being absolutely iconic. A definite must-read for romance fans!

After Dark Book Cover

After Dark by Jayne Castle

Like paranormal elements? Like fossils? After reading those first two books, you are perfectly primed for this futuristic romance written under the name Jayne Castle. It’s 200 years in the future. Humans are living on an alien planet that makes everyone at least a little psychic. And there’s no way to get back to Earth. Lydia is licensed para-archeologist, which basically means clearing dig sites from bad psychic energy. She’s given up her prestigious university job after a bad case of burnout and traumatizing experience in an alien tomb. She’s hoping her new client, Emmett, will help her get her career back on track. But he is a dangerous ghost hunter on a mission that will put both of them in harm’s way.

I suspect any of these Jayne Ann Krentz romances will turn you into a huge fan! She is one of the first romance novelists I read and her novels turned me into a romance reader and reader of her books for life. The good thing is that if this happens to you, there are 120 back list titles for you to start working your way through. Better get started!

And if you’re looking to get started on authors new to you, check out our other Reading Pathways, like the one on Marie Lu and Taylor Jenkins Reid.