Zoe Luce is a successful interior designer in the Arizona town of Whispering Springs who's developed an unusual career specialty-helping recently divorced clients redesign their homes, to help them forget the past and start anew. But Zoe knows that some things can't be covered up with a coat of paint. And when she senses that one of her clients may be hiding a dark secret, she enlists P.I. Ethan Truax to find the truth.
Working together, they solve the mystery . . . and barely escape with their lives. But Ethan's exquisite detection skills are starting to backfire on Zoe: she never wanted to let him find out about her former life; she never wanted to reveal her powerful, inexplicable gift for sensing the history hidden within a house's walls; she never wanted him to know that "Zoe Luce" doesn't really exist. She never wanted to fall in love with him.
Now, no matter how much she resists, Ethan may be her only hope-because the people she's been running from have found her. And just when Zoe dares to dream of a normal life and a future with the man she loves, her own past starts to shadow her every step-and threatens to take her back into a nightmare.
About the Author
Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as futuristic and historical romance novels under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, respectively. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print.
Place of Birth:San Diego, CA
Education:BA in History, University of California at Santa Cruz, MA in Librarianship from San Jose State University (California)
Read an Excerpt
The walls screamed at her.
"Oh, damn," Zoe Luce whispered. She halted in the doorway of the empty bedroom and stared at the white walls. Not now. Not today. Not this time. I really need this job.
The walls sobbed. Terror pulsed through layers of Sheetrock and the fresh coat of stark white paint that covered it.
The silent shrieks ricocheted off the floor and ceiling.
She put her fingers to her temples in a purely instinctive, utterly useless gesture. She squeezed her eyes shut, bracing herself against the ragged bolts of icy lightning that were shooting through her and pooling into a glacial pond somewhere in the vicinity of her stomach.
Davis Mason had followed her so closely down the hall that he was only a pace behind her when she came to a sudden stop. He bumped awkwardly against her.
"Oops, sorry." He caught his balance. "I wasn't paying attention."
"My fault." With what she hoped was an unobtrusive movement, she eased out of the doorway back into the hall. Things were much better out here. She could cope. She gave Davis what she hoped was a bright, assured smile. It wasn't easy, what with the muffled cries still leaking out of the bedroom.
She wanted out of this house. Fast. Whatever had happened in the bedroom had been bad.
"Hey." Davis touched her shoulder lightly. "Are you all right, Zoe?"
She gave him another shaky smile. It was relatively easy to smile at Davis. He had elegant lines and cleaning styling with just the right touch of roguish flair. If he'd been a car, he would have been a sleek, European roadster. Judging by the spacious home, the hand-tailored shirt and trousers, and the onyx and diamond ring he wore, he was also wealthy. In short, she thought sadly, until that moment, she had considered him the ideal client.
Everything had changed now, of course.
"Yes, I'm fine." She did a little on-the-spot deep breathing, using the techniques she had learned in her self-defense class. Summoning up her teacher's instructions, she sought the calm, stable center that was supposed to be somewhere deep inside her. Unfortunately, she had not yet mastered that part of the program. All she could feel was a bad case of the jitters coming on.
"What's wrong?" Davis was looking seriously concerned now.
"Just the start of a headache," Zoe said. "I often get one when I forget to eat breakfast."
The lies came so easily these days. But, then, she'd had a lot of practice. Too bad she wasn't yet clever enough to convince herself, she thought. A little self-delusion would be very welcome right now.
Davis watched her intently for a few seconds, and then he relaxed. "Missed your morning shot of caffeine?"
"And food. It's a blood sugar thing. I should know better." Feeling an urgent need to change the topic of conversation, she looked back into the bedroom and blurted out the first thing that came into her mind. "What happened to the bed?"
They both looked at the large, empty stretch of uncovered hardwood flooring between two massive, mission-style bedside tables.
Zoe swallowed uneasily. "The rest of the residence is fully furnished," she said. "I couldn't help but notice that there's no bed in here."
"She took it," Davis said grimly.
He sighed. "She loved that damned bed. Spent months shopping for it. I swear, it meant more to her than I did. When she left, it was about the only thing she insisted on taking with her in addition to her personal stuff."
"You know how it is in a divorce. Sometimes the biggest fights are over the smallest, dumbest things."
Whatever else it had been, Zoe thought, the missing bed had not been small.
Davis searched her face. "Headache getting worse?"
"It'll be all right once I've had lunch and a cup of coffee," she assured him.
"Tell you what. You've seen the rest of the house. I'm sure you've got the general picture. Why don't we take a break and get something to eat at the club? It will give us a chance to talk over your initial impressions."
The thought of eating made her stomach churn. She knew from experience that she would not be able to keep any food down until the chills stopped. That could take a while. This had been a really bad experience, and it had caught her totally off guard.
It was her own fault. She knew better than to enter a room so recklessly. But she had been caught up in her plans for the interiors, completely focused, and the rest of the spacious residence had seemed so new, so clean. She simply had not been expecting trouble, and, as often happened, she had paid the price.
"I'd love to join you for lunch, but I'm afraid I'll have to take a raincheck." She made a show of glancing at her watch. "I've got another appointment this afternoon, and I need to prepare for it."
Davis looked hesitant. "If you're sure-"
"I'm afraid so." She tried to inject a note of apology into her tone. "I really do have to run and you're right, I've seen all I need to see for now." And sensed far more than I ever wanted to know, thank you very much. "I've got the floor plan you gave me earlier. I'll make some copies and do some sketches that will you give you an idea of what I have in mind."
"I'd appreciate the drawings." Davis glanced into the bedroom and shook his head somewhat ruefully. "I'll admit I'm not what you'd call a visual person. It's easier for me to grasp the concept when I can see a picture."
"It's always easier when you can look at a drawing. Hang on while I check my calendar."
She reached into her voluminous tote, one of six similar bags in different colors that she owned. Each functioned as a combination briefcase and purse. She had chosen the chartreuse green one today because she liked the way it contrasted with her deep violet pantsuit.
Groping in the vast depths, she pushed aside the small camera, a sketchbook, measuring tape, a clear plastic box containing an array of colored pens and felt markers, a folder of fabric samples and the large, antique brass doorknob attached to the ring that held the keys to her apartment.
The appointment calendar was at the bottom. She hauled it up to the surface and flipped it open.
"I'll get some ideas down on paper," she said briskly, "and I'll try to have some preliminary layouts ready for you by the end of the week. What do you say we meet in my office Friday afternoon?"
"Friday?" Davis was clearly disappointed. "That's a week off. Do we have to wait that long? I'd like to get started as soon as possible. The truth is this house has been damn depressing since my wife walked out."
Yeah, I'll bet it has, she thought.
"I understand," she said aloud, trying to sound sympathetic. It wasn't easy, given the fact that the fine hairs on the nape of her neck were still tingling and there were goose bumps on her arms beneath the sleeves of her lightweight jacket.
"I'm trying hard not to be bitter," Davis said. "But the divorce is costing me a bundle. Got a feeling I'll be getting bills from the lawyers for a long time."
All the available evidence indicated that Davis Mason had come out of the divorce in excellent shape, financially. From what she could see, he possessed a very expensive residence, the interiors of which he was prepared to pay her handsomely to have redesigned, and a membership in a pricey country club. But she did not raise those points aloud.
She was rapidly learning to be diplomatic with the newly divorced, having discovered that they constituted a hot market niche for interior designers such as herself. People emerging from shattered marriages frequently yearned to redo their living spaces as a form of therapy to help them get past the negative emotional fallout caused by the breakup.
She flipped through the pages of her calendar, pretending to study her schedule. Abruptly she snapped the leather-bound volume closed with a decisive air. "I'm afraid I'm booked solid. Friday is the only day I can give you the time this project deserves. Will two o'clock work for you?"
"Looks like I don't have much choice." Davis was not pleased. He was used to getting what he wanted. "Friday it is. Didn't mean to sound so impatient. It's just that I'm very anxious to get moving on the project."
"Of course. Once you've made the decision to redesign a personal living space, there's a natural urge to rush into the job." She spoke quickly, trying to inject a professional, businesslike quality into her voice. "But redoing an entire residence is a major undertaking and mistakes at this stage can be extremely costly."
"Yeah, I found that out the hard way." He took one more look at the bedroom. "I got as far as repainting this room and realized I needed expert help. I didn't think I could go wrong just putting a coat of white paint on the walls, but as soon as I finished I realized it didn't look right. I wanted to make it seem light and airy in here and instead-" He shrugged and let the sentence trail off with a who knew expression.
And instead the bedroom had all the cozy ambience of an autopsy room or an embalming chamber, Zoe concluded silently. No amount of the bright Arizona sunlight dancing on the surface of the sapphire pool outside could counteract that effect. Some of the unpleasant sensation was attributable to the stark white paint, but she knew that the real problem had been created by whatever it was that had happened in this bedroom. Some things could not be covered with a coat of paint.
She also knew that Mr. Ideal Client was not consciously aware of the emotions trapped in the walls. To her everlasting regret, she had never encountered anyone else who picked up on that kind of stuff the way she did-as pure, raw energy. But she had seen enough instances of others reacting in subtle, unconscious ways to the atmosphere of a particular room to be convinced that a lot of people responded to a space on some deep, psychic level.
She had also learned the hard way to keep her inner knowledge to herself.
"You chose a stark bright white." She took another step back, putting more distance between herself and the bedroom doorway. "I know it seems like pure white should be simple and straightforward, but it is actually very difficult to work with because it reflects so much glare, especially here in the desert. It also tends to create very cold shadows when you add furnishings. Ultimately that makes for a lack of harmony and tranquility. You were right to stop painting after you finished this room."
"Knew it wasn't the right direction." Davis made a casual gesture that invited her to go ahead of him down the hall. "I have to tell you, Zoe, when I decided I needed a professional designer, I didn't really put much stock in this feng shui thing that you do."
"A lot of people have doubts about it until they experience the result."
"I knew it was trendy and all. The women at the country club are really into it. When Helen Weymouth gave me your name, she went on and on about how you had completely transformed her home after she got her divorce. She'd been on the brink of putting it up for sale because of all the bad memories, she said. She credits you with changing the whole atmosphere of the place."
"The Weymouth project was an interesting one." Not much farther to the front door. A couple more minutes, and she would be out of here. "Mrs. Weymouth gave me a free hand."
"She advised me to do the same thing. A few months ago, after Jennifer left, I would have said that all this business of arranging the furniture to regulate the flow of negative and positive energy was way too far out for me. But the longer I live here alone with everything just the way it was when she was here, the more I'm convinced that there may be something to your design theories."
"I don't practice one particular school of feng shui." To her horror she realized she was talking much too fast. Act normal. You know how to do this. "I use elements of several different approaches combined with organizational principles from other classic design traditions such as Vastu."
"An ancient Hindu science that sets out principals for architecture and design. I also incorporate what I consider the most useful elements from contemporary theories of harmony and proportion. My style is really quite eclectic."
Actually, I pretty much make it up as I go along, she added silently. But clients did not like to hear that.
She walked swiftly toward the front of the house, desperate to escape into the fresh air. Now that she had been sensitized by the experience in the bedroom, she was picking up wispy tendrils of dark, unwholesome emotions from other walls in the residence. She had to get out of this place fast.
She reached the terra-cotta foyer at last. Davis was right behind her. He opened the front door, and she escaped into the reassuring warmth of the early October day.
"Are you sure you're feeling well enough to drive back to your office?" Davis asked.
"I've got an energy bar in the car." Another lie. Was she getting good at this or what?
"All right. Well, take care. And I'll see you on Friday."
She gave him what she hoped was a bright, professional-looking smile, tightened her grip on the chartreuse tote, and went briskly toward her car. She tried not to appear as if she was rushing away from the screaming house.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she reached the vehicle. Yanking open the door, she tossed the tote onto the passenger seat, slid behind the wheel, put her dark glasses on, and fired up the engine, all in what felt like a single motion.
Her hands were still trembling. Aftershocks from the surge of adrenaline, she surmised. This wasn't the first time. She could handle it.
But she had to grip the wheel very tightly in order to steer her way out of the exclusive community. To her left was the long stretch of impossibly green fairway that served as the approach to the sixteenth hole of the Desert View Country Club. Elegant homes similar to the Mason residence were scattered artfully around the golf course.
Beyond the vivid green links stretched the rugged expanse of the Sonoran Desert and low, rolling mountain foothills. The golf club community and the adjoining town of Whispering Springs were a little more than an hour's drive from Phoenix, close enough to catch some of the spillover from the tourist trade but far enough out to avoid the traffic and congestion of the city.
The harsh, dry landscape had seemed a strange and alien place to her when she had moved here a year ago, but somewhere along the line her new environment had begun to feel familiar, even comfortable. She had discovered an unexpected beauty in the desert, with its spectacular sunrises and sunsets and the astounding depths of light and shadow. She had always been drawn to contrasts, and there was nothing subtle about this place.
The decision to move to Whispering Springs had been a good one, she mused, but maybe she should reconsider the career move she had made at the same time. Interior design had seemed like a natural, logical way to go. After all, she had a background in the fine arts and a good, trained eye, and she certainly knew how to get the feel of a living space. Best of all, she hadn't needed any additional degrees or qualifications in order to set herself up in business legally. But today's encounter was enough to give her some second thoughts.
A uniformed guard came out of a small building located at the gated entrance. The emblem on his snappy khaki jacket declared him to be an employee of Radnor Security Systems. He greeted her politely, wished her a good day, and went back inside his air-conditioned sanctuary to make a note on his log.
Security was tight here in this carefully planned enclave of wealth and status, but someone in the Mason residence had not benefited from it.
She waited until she was clear of the gates and on her way back toward the downtown section of Whispering Springs before she picked up her phone. She punched in the only number that she had coded into her speed dial.
Arcadia Ames answered on the third ring, giving the name of her gift shop in her low, throaty voice. "Gallery Euphoria."
Arcadia sold unique, expensive gifts to an upscale clientele, but Zoe was pretty sure her friend could have sold sand here in the desert with that voice.
Arcadia was her best friend, make that her only friend. She had once had other friends, Zoe thought. But that was a long time ago, back when she had had a real life and had not been living in the shadows.
"It's me," Zoe said.
"What's wrong? Something happen with Mr. Ideal Client?"
"You could say that."
"He decided not to hire you after all? That idiot. But don't worry, there will be other good clients like him. The divorce rate doesn't seem to be going down very much."
"Unfortunately, Mason didn't change his mind," Zoe said evenly. "I wish he had."
"Did the creep make a pass at you?"
"He was a perfect gentleman."
"He must be rich because everybody who lives in Desert View is, by definition, a high roller," Arcadia said patiently. "So what went wrong?"
"I think Mr. Ideal Client may have murdered his wife."
from Light In Shadow: A Whispering Springs Novel by Jayne Ann Krentz, Copyright © 2002 Putnam Pub Group, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission
Table of Contents
Heart to Heart Spotlight Feature: Jayne Ann Krentz on Light in Shadow
Light in Shadow is a captivating story of romance and suspense, where carefully planned vengeance and unexpected love are the only protection against past and present danger. For interior designer Zoe Luce, fresh starts are a specialty. She knows it takes more than new curtains to dispel the shadows of poor decisions or recent loss…but her sensitivity to the events that leave such shadows can sometimes be dangerous. Private investigator Ethan Truax doesn't think much of Zoe's profession, and he'd like it even less if he knew she based her advice as much on psychic auras as fashion sense and feng shui. But, when she hires him investigate a new client, her instinct for trouble is right on target. And once the sexy seer slips into his life, not even the clear desert light of Whispering Springs, Arizona, can protect them from the dangerous shadows cast by freshly buried secrets, painful past actions, fragile new identities, and powerful old enemies.
Here's what Jayne Ann Krentz has to say about Light in Shadow:
Jayne Ann Krentz: I love to write about people who have the guts to reinvent their own lives. Zoe and Ethan are both in the process of doing just that when they meet. Initially, they seem like opposites and heaven knows each brings a lot of baggage to the relationship, but they have more in common than they realize. Their quest for justice and their loyalty to friends and family are defining characteristics for both. Each sees those elemental, rock-solid values in the other, and in spite of all their conflicts, each respects the other because of those values. They are both capable of love and commitment. They both believe in, and live by, the old-fashioned virtues of honor, courage, and determination. And (very important to me) they both have a sense of humor.
Heart to Heart: What made you decide to give Zoe her special sensitivity to the emotional resonance of places?
JAK: A lot of people will tell you that they can sense the atmosphere of a house or room the moment they enter it. I think this ability is actually intuition, not a paranormal talent, but the result is remarkably similar for those who experience it. I took the concept and used it to give Light in Shadow a psychic twist. What would you do if you walked into someone's bedroom and got the eerie feeling that a person had been killed in that space? Zoe's reaction is to hire a private investigator. The P.I. is a uniquely American archetype in popular fiction. He represents our values of independence and perseverance. He operates outside the mainstream, and he will put his life on the line to defend his client and see justice done. To Zoe, Ethan is the modern version of the mysterious lone rider of the Old West who rode into town and cleaned out the bad guys.
HtoH: How do you think real-life relationships are (or should be) different from fictional ones?
JAK: I find myself returning again and again to three themes in my work: trust, honor and family. In Light in Shadow, Ethan and Zoe judge each other, in part, by the way each deals with friends and relatives. You can tell a lot about people by observing the way they treat those who are close to them. I think that holds true in real life as well as fiction.
HtoH: What can you tell us about your plans for a sequel to Light in Shadow?
JAK: All I can tell you now is that the sequel will be called Truth or Dare, and that each book will stand entirely on its own. For the latest on my plans, I invite readers to visit me at my web site: www.jayneannkrentz.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I just finished Light In Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Jayne Castle, and I loved it. Talk about excitement. Deep and interesting characters, layered plot, humor, love, intrigue, family, friendship and some twisted human motivations. It all adds up to a read you couldn't be bored with if you tried. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Ethan is your typical hard boiled detective with a past, and surprisingly noble and kind as well. Zoe is your woman with a dark and shadowy past, a big secret and a yearning for the truth while striving for normal. She and Ethan had such great chemistry and it all wove so well into the plot. The surprises kept coming, as did the growing relationship between them. I've learned there's a sequel. I'm so excited to find out where they go from here.
I like all of her writing always get and read her books.
Review by Jen: Light in Shadow is the first of a short 2 book series following two women who escaped from a mental hospital. (It's followed up by Truth or Dare.) Zoe Luce can "feel the emotions" of a room. When working as an interior decorator, she feels something wrong in a bedroom she is about to redecorate and hires Ethan Truax to solve her little mystery. This mystery was solved in the first half of the book and really had me wondering what was going to fill the rest of the pages. But, Zoe's past comes back to haunt her and Ethan is there to help. Jayne Ann Krentz is a prolific author and this was another solid book. Good romance, plot and character development. The touch of paranormal (with Zoe's "psychic" ability) adds a nice twist in what would be a rather ordinary story. I listened this this book on CD (which prompted my blog on audio books). The reader did a great job. If you're looking for a romantic suspense, then I'd recommend trying this book.
Love it, great untill the end highly recomend!
I enjoyed the book, but there were moments when I couldn¿t wait for it to end. Like when you are sitting in a cinema, excited about a movie, which had some good scenes but as time went on, it got a little flaky and your popcorn is finished and all you want to do is leave but you can¿t cause you are already too deep into it ¿that was how I felt. Zoe¿s unique gift appealed to me- hey- she is so attuned to spaces that she can feel the cries of anguish in a room. That¿s cool. As the plot accelerates to its inevitable twist, Krentz managed to maintain a seductive atmosphere. The discovery of the whodunit of one murder will surprise us (I certainly did not see it coming!) The interplay of the book¿s sub-characters keeps the plot perking along ( but does the author have to simplify things by indicating that Bonnie and Arcadia will end up with Singleton and Stagg respectively¿wow¿imagine all those Saturday night triple dates!!!) Krentz is a master story teller, weaving together all the pieces, including a parallel story from a century ago (the throw in of an age old murder was intriguing and the bubblegum pink Nightwinds sounds adorable!) The motive for the main homicide seemed crazy ( then again the killer is crazy) but fans might still appreciate it. It¿s got everything, suspense, romance and a little bit of the paranormal and yet¿.it ended up being just a run of the mill to me. Something was a bit off¿..but that¿s my opinion. It's still worth a read and i would still come back for more of Krentz
IF you love to read a good mystery novel with thrills and chills than you'll enjoy this book. Readers of bestselling authors: Nora Roberts and Sherry Mauro will also love this writer!
Zoe Luce was an interior designer and owned a shop called Enhanced Interiors. She had talent that she considered to be a curse, walls spoke to her. Well, in a way. If any strong emotion happened in a room, such as lust or fear, it would sink into the walls. So when Zoe went into a client's bedroom and the walls "screamed", Zoe could not leave fast enough! Whatever horrible thing happened in that room was recent. The client said he was going through a divorce. Zoe believed he murdered his wife in that bedroom. Without proof, cops would laugh at her. Besides, she could be wrong. The wife could be sunning herself on a tropical beach somewhere. Zoe simply needed a computer whiz to discretely find out. ..... Ethan Traux had taken over Truax Investigations from his uncle. Zoe would be his first case. It should have been simple. Only a few minutes on the computer to see if a lady was using her credit cards or an ATM. Instead, Ethan found a corpse. ..... Zoe and Ethan became attracted to each other. All seemed to be going well. However, Zoe's dark past was about to catch up to her. After a year of hiding under a different name, they had finally found her! ..... ***** Wonderful! Zoe always seemed to be bubbling over with optimism no matter how awful things became. But she sure had to tap deeply into a bottomless well of optimism to get through all this! Zoe was a strong willed character that needed an extra ordinary man in her life. Author Jayne Ann Krentz did a wonderful job in creating just such a man. ....... This novel was like having two books in one, a murder mystery and a romantic thriller. The "client" part was a work of genius on Krentz's side to bring the couple together. The author brought back the Vastu and Feng Shui techniques that I recall being used in one of her novels a few years ago. This is a fast paced, romantic, and heart pounding thriller that I highly recommend to all. *****
Ethan a private detective gets more than he bargains for when he meets Zoe a woman with lots of secrets including hearing voices or senses bad events on the walls of houses...
Ms Krentz has done again. This book was so exciting and thrilling. It would one that has you on the edge of your chair if it were a movie.