Night Echoes, by Holly Lisle

>> Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TITLE: Night Echoes
AUTHOR: Holly Lisle

PAGES: 320
PUBLISHER: Signet Eclipse

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Paranormal romance

Artist Emma Beck returns to her southern hometown to discover the truth about her secret family history.

With the help of Mike Ruhl, the contractor she's falling in love with, Emma finds that her legacy is more chilling and unexpected than she ever dreamed. Especially when she starts hearing the whispers late at night.

All her life, artist Emma Beck has been incorporating elements of a particular house in her paintings. Then she discovers the name of her birth mother, and visiting the town she was from, she finds that exact house, and has to have it. It's a place that has long given the townspeople the creeps, so she doesn't have any trouble acquiring it.
Then she moves in, and all sorts of weird, eerie things start happening, from sudden feelings of terror, to hearing strange sounds, to a ghostly cat. Not to mention, her unexplainable feelings of recognition when she meets local contractor Mike Ruhl, who seems to feel just the same sense of belonging with her, and the fact that (surprise, surprise!) he has shown up in her pictures before, just as the house.

This was disappointing. It starts quite strongly, with an intriguing plot and paranormal elements that are actually quite scary, as well as interesting. There's not only a mystery regarding Emma's mother's fate, including just who Emma's father was, but something clearly happened in her house many years ago, something tragic, and the house wants Emma and Mike to discover the truth. I also loved Emma's job as a painter of cover art for fantasy and sci-fi novels, which was a really fascinating little nugget.

Unfortunately, it just didn't gel. The supposedly scorching hot chemistry between Emma and Mike felt overdone and fake. I liked them both, and bought that they liked each other and were probably quite well-suited, but the intensity of the relationship Lisle was writing between them didn't suit the characters. I guess that kind of was the point, that this is something completely unlike them, but rather than it coming across as two people feeling something they'd never felt before, it came across as an author telling me they were feeling something they weren't.

And then we get to the last third, or so. Emma and Mike start rushing to mistaken conclusions so abruptly they gave me whiplash (completely unwarranted conclusions, too, with no logic whatsoever), and the finale was ridiculously and laughably over-the-top, ending the book on a very sour note, and in a way that didn't fit the rest of the story.



Christine,  25 January 2013 at 19:57  

I have been trying to track this book down to no avail as I am a huge Barbara Michaels fan and have found no current authors (apart from Susanna Kearsley) that I find satisfying in this same way. I had hoped this novel might be a fun alternative, but based on your review (and the fact your taste in books is often very similar to mine)I am not feeling as enthusiastic. Particularly as your lukewarm feelings towards it mirrors the feelings of the only other person I know who has read it. The search continues.

Rosario 26 January 2013 at 08:16  

You know, the only reason I read this one was because it was recommended as something reminiscent of Barbara Michaels. Superficially, I suppose I see it, but really, it's nothing like hers.

Anyway, I've still got my copy, and it's yours if you want it (I could put it in the post with The Firebird!)

Christine,  5 February 2013 at 19:39  

Rosario, you are very generous. My greed is at war with my guilt over depriving you of your books! I confess only my inability to find your email address here has kept me from shamelessly following up. Is there anything from the US you cannot get over there?

Rosario 6 February 2013 at 17:12  

Christine: Oh, don't worry about that -it's going to the charity shop, otherwise! I'm happy to send it, nice people used to send me books from the US and the UK all the time when I lived in Uruguay and didn't have much money. Now that I'm in England and have a good job, it's only fair I pay it forward!

My public email address is (I'll answer your email from my private address, though, so make sure you check your spam folder if you don't hear from me!)

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