Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, romantic suspense
Series: Lost Night Files #1
Published by Berkley Books on January 3, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository, Bookshop.org
Seven months ago, Pallas Llewellyn, Talia March, and Amelia Rivers were strangers, until their fateful stay at the Lucent Springs Hotel. An earthquake and a fire partially destroyed the hotel, but the women have no memory of their time there. Now close friends, the three women co-host a podcast called the Lost Night Files, where they investigate cold cases and hope to connect with others who may have had a similar experience to theirs—an experience that has somehow enhanced the psychic abilities already present in each woman.
After receiving a tip for their podcast, Pallas travels to the small college town of Carnelian, California, to explore an abandoned asylum. Shaken by the dark energy she feels in the building, she is rushing out when she’s stopped by a dark figure—who turns out to be the women's mysterious tipster.
Ambrose Drake is certain he’s a witness to a murder, but without a body, everyone thinks he’s having delusions caused by extreme sleep deprivation. But Ambrose is positive something terrible happened at the Carnelian Sleep Institute the night he was there. Unable to find proof on his own, he approaches Pallas for help, only for her to realize that Ambrose, too, has a lost night that he can’t remember—one that may be connected to Pallas. Pallas and Ambrose conduct their investigation using the podcast as a cover, and while the townsfolk are eager to share what they know, it turns out there are others who are not so happy about their questions—and someone is willing to kill to keep the truth from coming out.
Our story begins before it begins. Seven months before, specifically. Three women, Pallas Llewellyn, Talia March and Amelia Rivers, complete strangers to each other, were all invited to the Lucent Springs Hotel for a meeting about restoring the old hotel in this quaint California town. They were woken in the morning – not by a wake up call or an alarm – but by an earthquake. There was hospital equipment all around them, the hotel was on fire, and not a single one of them had any memory of the evening before after entering the hotel.
Officials chalked it up to a girls’ night out party ending in a drunken blackout. But those three women knew that wasn’t the case. They had all undergone a traumatic experience, they all had transient global amnesia (yes, it really does exist) about the events, and they all had their various forms of ‘strong intuition’ ramped up to the point of being honest-to-goodness psychic powers.
They banded together to search for the truth about what happened to them, starting their podcast, The Lost Night Files, to investigate their own and other people’s experiences of having lost a night – or more – to an experience they can’t remember and can’t explain.
And all of their collective families are sure they’ve each gone a bit off the deep end – but they have each other.
Ambrose Drake looks into The Lost Night Files because his experience mirrors theirs. He went to a meeting, has no recollection of the entire night it was supposed to happen, woke up in the morning to discover there were no records of the people or organization that invited him. And his own ‘intuition’ suddenly ramped up to eleven. Alone, he was coping so badly that his family staged an intervention and sent him to have his resulting extreme insomnia studied at a sleep disorder clinic – where he believes he witnessed a murder.
Ambrose needs help, and Pallas Llewellyn and her friends are just the right people to help him. At least once Pallas and Ambrose get past their mutual distrust. After all, they’ve each dealt with plenty of crazies on their way to this rather precarious point in their lives. To survive, they’ll have to learn to trust each other.
Or they won’t survive at all.
Escape Rating A-: The fascinating thing about this very fun read is that it is very much a three-pronged story, and all those prongs come together to hold a rather lovely gem of a book.
The author’s trademark blend of paranormal vibes and psychic powers forms what initially seems like a backdrop to the whole thing. Ambrose, as well as Pallas and her friends, all have some sort of strong intuition that they have mostly kept to themselves – because in the 21st century people who claim to read auras or rebalance energies are generally considered crackpots.
And no one wants THAT on their resume.
(Long time readers of the ‘Jayneverse’ may wonder if this book links up to her vast, sprawling Arcane Society series. The answer is probably, yes, eventually, but at the moment that link is tangential. There’s a tiny, explicit reference to Burning Cove (series begins with The Girl Who Knew Too Much) but it’s a blink and you’ll miss it and doesn’t affect anything in the book in hand at this point.)
The second prong holding the gem is, of course, the slow-burning romance between Pallas and Ambrose. And it’s appropriately slow burn because they don’t initially trust each other one little bit. But they’re stuck together in a rather dangerous ‘foxhole’ and they have to develop that trust in order to, for one thing, just get through the night.
(There’s another form of amnesia, Korsakoff’s syndrome, that results from extremes of alcoholism or malnutrition. Ambrose is courting this version with a combination of insomnia and complete loss of appetite. Honestly, he’s a mess.)
But the third prong was the hook for me. As many vibes and auras surround Pallas and Ambrose, it really seems like the motives for everything that happens to them in the story itself are rather mundane criminal activities even if they are conducted at higher stakes than usual. It seems like the events that brought them to Carnelian California all revolve around people behaving badly because of money and then covering it up. Following the money is a tried and true investigative principle for damn good reasons, after all.
And just when you think that’s where the story is going – the bottom drops out and it all gets just so much bigger that I can’t wait to see where The Lost Night Files goes from here. Hopefully this time next year if not a bit sooner? But first we’ll be taking a trip back to Burning Cove this May in The Bride Wore White.