About the Book:
Welcome to Illusion Town on the colony world of Harmony—like Las Vegas on Earth, but way more weird.
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 Guild 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.
Read an Excerpt:
(Jayne Castle photo by Marc von Borstel)
“I assume you found me because you followed Otis?” Lucy said.
Gabriel took a healthy bite of pizza. “He certainly got my attention.”
“He approached me in the Dead City ruins near the Storm Zone Wall about an hour ago. I was trying to locate the staircase you might have used to go into the Underworld.”
She thought about that for a beat. “You knew where to start the search? Sounds like my message to Veronica got through. Amazing. The kidnappers drugged me at the reception, you know.”
“Did they?” Gabriel said, his tone a little too polite.
She knew disbelief when she saw it. She sighed and reminded herself he had no reason to believe her version of events.
“By the time they put me in a cab I was hallucinating wildly,” she continued. “When I got out of the cab I was at the edge of the Storm Zone, so I ran for the nearest hole-in-the-wall. I managed to get on my phone long enough to leave a message for my friend Veronica. I knew she was working that night. I only had a few seconds. No time for a detailed message, so I texted my location.”
“Storm Zone Wall.”
“The cops told me that much. They said that when your friend saw the text she didn’t know what to make of it at first. She thought maybe you were at an after-party that was being held near the Storm Zone. When she got home in the morning, she realized you hadn’t returned. She filed a missing persons report, but the police wanted to wait the usual twenty-four hours before they got serious about opening a case. Evidently your friend insisted they send a search and rescue team into the ruins to start the search immediately.”
Lucy smiled. “People, especially men, tend to do what Veronica wants them to do.”
“I haven’t met the lady, so I’ll take your word for it. Your father was notified, and he put pressure on the locals, as well. The result was that after forty-eight hours of searching the ruins and the nearby neighborhoods, the authorities decided they needed outside help. The Cadence Guild was contacted.”
“And here you are. I must admit this is pretty damn impressive rescue work.”
“I lucked out when Otis showed up with the pizza. He was wearing this around his neck.” Gabriel reached into the pocket of his leather jacket and took out a dainty black crystal necklace.
A thrill of relief splashed through Lucy. “That’s mine. The bride gave identical necklaces to all of the bridesmaids. After Otis showed up with the first pizza delivery, it occurred to me that someone might notice the necklace and follow him down here. I gave it to him.”
Gabriel nodded appreciatively. “It was a good plan. It worked.”
“I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I was trapped in this room. The kidnappers took my handbag, my wrap, and every piece of nav amber that I had on me. They didn’t bother with the necklace, because it wasn’t amber. How long have I been gone? I’ve lost track of time.”
“The wedding reception was three nights ago.”
Lucy glanced at the stack of empty pizza boxes. There were five of them. “That’s what I was estimating. Otis arrived soon after I crashed in this chamber. I’ve been waiting for the effects of the drug to wear off before trying to follow him back to the surface. But every time I think I’m coming out of the fog, I get hit with another wave of hallucinations. The visions are absolutely unbearable when I get close to the entrance.”
From GUILD BOSS published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Jayne Castle.
As Lucy Bell is attending the wedding of a friend, she is kidnapped and drugged. She manages to escape to the underground tunnels of Illusion Town, only to find that her hiding place has become her prison. Some type of psychic energy is keeping Lucy from exiting the room. She drinks water from a small pool, not realizing that it has been drugged, causing Lucy to hallucinate. A friendly dust bunny (think of a gremlin or a Furby) arrives with a pizza in hand to keep Lucy from starving. She dubs him Otis, and he returns regularly to bring her pizza and keep her company. After several days, a hired hunter finds Lucy, and her first reaction is to believe him the Lord of the Underworld.
Gabriel Jones of Guild Security has been assigned to find Lucy, who disappeared from a wedding days ago. He is able to distract the disoriented Lucy sufficiently to get her past the psychic barrier, only to find their return to be a news sensation. Though Gabriel was instantly smitten with Lucy, he has another crucial assignment to fulfill. He believes that Lucy is now safe in the hands of her family and medical personnel, so he leaves, fully intending to renew their acquaintance upon his return. He is so wrong, as Lucy is once again kidnapped, and kept drugged.
Two months later, Gabriel returns to find that Lucy’s life has fallen apart. Her reputation is in tatters, and her career lost. She is now acting as a tour bus driver, struggling to survive on tips. Lucy had managed to escape her captors, only to find that no one believes her story. She is thought to be a heavy drinker and drug user, and not fit to be hired any longer as a weather channeler. Gabriel’s hopes of starting a romance are dashed by Lucy’s wariness of him, but he devises an alternate plan. He’ll hire Lucy, thus helping restore her professional reputation, while giving her a chance to get to know him as they work together. Lucy accepts the job, though Gabriel’s new position as director of the Guild, puts his every move in the public eye.
Jayne Castle, who also writes as Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick, has set her books in the dark and dangerous world of Harmony, which was colonized by people from earth, who were unable to return. Harmony had been the home of an ancient people, as the remnants of their existence are everywhere. Mysterious psychic energy abounds in the structures, as well as in the former earthlings who are now its citizens. Everyone has different abilities – Lucy can affect and control weather, while Gabriel is a rare multi-talent. Gabriel’s attraction to Lucy is not one sided. As they work together, their liking, their mutual respect, and that spark, leads them into a most satisfying physical relationship.
GUILD BOSS is entertaining and amusing, while not putting the romance in second place. Though Gabriel is career driven, he also wants to help Lucy to succeed, as well as furthering their love affair. They are both intelligent and capable people, though Lucy was the victim of circumstances and rumors. The story just speeds along, capturing my attention as we come to see that human nature doesn’t change, even while being in another world. There will always be good people along with the criminals and users. There are charming and light hearted moments with Otis, the dust bunny, who has developed a bond with Lucy, has a passion for pizza, and loves to be in the limelight. I am delighted every time he chortles. GUILD BOSS is fun to read as well as satisfying my need for a romance with happy ever after. ~Rose