Guild Boss by Jayne Castle (Author), Barbara Rosenblat (Narrator)

Guild Boss by Jayne Castle (Author), Barbara Rosenblat (Narrator)
Publisher: Berkley, Recorded Books, Inc. (Publisher-audio)
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Living in this new, alien world doesn’t stop the settlers from trying to re-create what they’ve left behind. Case in point—weddings are still the highlight of any social calendar. But it’s the after-party that turns disastrous for Lucy Bell. Kidnapped and drugged as she leaves the party, she manages to escape—only to find herself lost in the mysterious, alien underground maze of glowing green tunnels beneath Illusion Town. She’s been surviving on determination and cold pizza, scavenged for her by a special dust bunny, when help finally shows up.

Gabriel Jones is the Ghost Hunter sent to rescue her, but escaping the underground ruins isn’t the end of her troubles—it’s only the beginning. With no rational reason for her abduction, and her sole witness gone on another assignment for the Guild, whispers start circulating that Lucy made it all up. Soon her life unravels until she has nothing left but her pride. The last thing she expects is for Gabriel Jones to come back to town for her.

The Lucy that Gabriel finds is not the same woman he rescued, the one who looked at him as if he were her hero. This Lucy is sharp, angry, and more than a little cynical—instead of awe, she treats him with extreme caution. But a killer is still hunting her, and there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to heroes. Despite her wariness, Gabriel is also the one person who believes Lucy—after all, he was there. He’s determined to help clear her reputation, no matter what it takes. And as the new Guild Boss, his word is law, even in the lawlessness of Illusion Town.

When I found out that Ms. Rosenblat was the narrator for Guild Boss, mixed with the story-telling talent of Ms. Castle, I couldn’t wait for this novel to come out. I just knew it was going to be fun and entertaining. My wait was worth it; every moment was awesome and I simply could not believe the ending came so soon. It’s the first time I’ve listened to an audio book that I’ve lost track of time and the ending took me by surprise. I expected at least 3 days to listen to the whole thing. It took me a day and a half. Just like her print books that I can read from end to end in one day (who needs sleep?), I finished the audio version in record time. I’ll be buying the print version of this novel as well, now that I know it’s a keeper.

I guess you could say that my review is colored by the narrator’s talent, and you’d be right. Granted, it wouldn’t work if the book itself wasn’t done perfectly, from dialogue, description, action and mystery, and with solid writing all the way through. My favorite scene descriptions were with Otis, the dust bunny, and how he utilized his sparkly pink toy. So adorable and sweet, it satisfies a figurative sweet tooth craving.

That first kiss reminded me of something Captain Kirk would do in Star Trek. I guess for some readers it might seem like a negative thing. Not for me. Sometimes there are moments when you meet someone and the spark is blinding and compelling. You give in to temptation. Reality hits later leading to a let-down or a romance culminating in a marriage of 50 years. It’s happened in real life, so I am totally on board with Gabriel’s character and his actions. Besides, it worked, didn’t it?

As for the heroine, Lucy, her fall from respectable to looney-toons and bit jobs might seem extreme to some readers. I mean, how her new boss treated her and paid her was not fair. That he took advantage of her was apparent. Ms. Castle could do anything she wished while writing this novel – it’s her world-building after all, right? My perspective is – keeping it close to what really can happen in real life allows the believability factor to easily translate to fantastical scenes on a far-off planet. Human nature being what it is does not change just because it’s in a different place. The vices, character quirks, unfair business practices and such happen because humans are eminently fallible. Same with the villains. My favorites are the scheming megalomaniacs with delusions of world domination – it worked in the original series, the Avengers with John Steed and Emma Peel, and adventures on Harmony remind me of some of their plots. Fun, pure escapism, adventure, daring-do, and with Ms. Castle’s books, romance and happy-ever-afters are a given. It’s what I look forward to and Ms. Castle delivered.

I am a happy reader/listener because Guild Boss gave me what I needed – a great read. The novel met all my expectations. I enjoyed how the relics of the past continue to cause havoc, I enjoyed the rescues, the chases, the clever quips, and how the story stayed on point with the plot and romance. There were a couple of love scenes and for a change, they weren’t there to take the place of the story. They were well placed and ensured I would have no doubts that Gabriel and Lucy are compatible and well-matched in all the best ways. The mystery was solved and the villain was someone I didn’t suspect.

All in all, Guild Boss is a keeper. No matter if you read it in print, or listen in audio format, it’s a wonderful story. It’s also a great addition to my growing tower of favorites written by Ms. Castle. If you decide to read this novel, I hope you have as much fun as I did.

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