InterMix / May 20, 2014 / $4.99 digital
Tara Jean Dobbs was a Texas police officer until her friend Lucy Caldwell almost died on her watch. She’s since left the force, left Dobbs Hollow, and vowed to never let a loved one down again. So when her best friend Andrea joins a seemingly harmless spiritual cult—only to disappear without a trace—Tara decides to find out what happened by becoming one of the Chosen herself.
Five months later, no one’s heard from Tara, and FBI Agent Jacob Nolan is going after her. Taking a false identity, Jacob finds it surprisingly easy to play the part of Tara’s boyfriend. But as they uncover the inner workings of the Chosen, they realize how much danger they’re in. Because Andrea isn’t the first follower to conveniently disappear—and they may be next.
Lost is set almost entirely in the world of a reclusive cult and Laura Curtis delves deep into what such a society might get up to behind its electrified fences. There’s a lot of logistical detail as to how the members spend their time and the creep factor unrolls slowly as the novel unfurls. This setup is necessary to understand the dire straits both Tara and Jake have willingly entered into, and the dangerous dance they perform to keep the cult from discovering their true intentions, but it does make for a slower start to the story during the first third of the book. But once the action picks up, it spirals out from the cult’s restrictive environment and ups the intrigue levels. I was particularly surprised by how far Curtis took Tara and how high the stakes were raised and it certainly raised my appraisal of the book as a whole.
Lost is a strong suspense story with areas of romance—where Tara and Jake can fit them—while still maintaining their cover. Their connection and mutual if unacknowledged interest extends from Curtis’ previous book, Twisted, where they were secondary characters, which leaves much of their characters to be revealed in their responses to the cultists and internal musings on each other.
Figuring out what’s real and what’s part of their deception when it comes to their relationship adds to the tangle of their unofficial operation. Tara particularly struggles to determine whether Jake’s feelings are genuine or just another aspect of their cover.
I love you, baby. What she wouldn’t give to hear those words for real. But she followed Jake out into the warm afternoon sun without, she hoped, giving away her thoughts. She’d taken the kiss as far as she reasonably could, using the excuse that there might be cameras. When they returned from this walk, video surveillance would be over, and there would be no reason for Jake to treat her like a lover in private.
At least there was only one bed…
Lost also features a theme of addiction, another apparent carryover from Twisted, the details of which I won’t spoil here but that overall added a lot of depth to Tara and Jake’s journeys. It’s worth pushing through the sometimes tedious details of A Day in the Life of a Cultist to get to the overall satisfying high-action climax.
Learn more or order a copy of Lost by Laura K. Curtis, available now: