By Linda Palmer
Kate Lawless, nineteen, is all alone in the world and struggling at the moment to make ends meet. Although answering a World Security League all-call for psychics is dangerous in these phobic times, she is tempted by the promise of reimbursement for just showing up. Screenings take place in a hotel conference room. When hers goes very well—a shocker—she is checked in so that she can undergo further testing. Staying at the ritzy hotel is quite a treat for Kate. The Christmas decorations are beyond beautiful. The festive background music reminds her of past holidays, most of them celebrated with a foster family or with other kids living in the youth ranch or orphanages that have been her life since the age of two. Her holiday plans this year? Enjoy this surprise vacay to the max, take the money, and pay her past-due rent.
Nikolai Nycov, a Russian member of the WSL team, is assigned to her. While he claims that he's only interested on a professional level, he won't stop meddling in her personal life. He comes off as deliberately distant one minute; helpful, the next. Although annoying, this actually intrigues Kate, as does the fact that her clairvoyance gets a psychic boost whenever Nikolai is physically close.
Distracted by her growing feelings for him, she finds it harder and harder to lock onto Mbali Tinibu, the ruthless Sierra Leone civil war criminal she is helping the WSL locate. Kate finally asks to work alone and is given permission in spite of Nikolai's objections. Only then does she realize how unpredictable and dangerous her psychic gifts can be. And having an annoying Russian around? Well, sometimes that's not a bad idea.
Caleigh, a fledging empath, is thrilled to be at Rutledge Institute a.k.a. "Psychic High." She has three goals: fit in at the institute, earn her high school diploma, and get a handle on her psychic gift. Miles has too many psychic talents to count. His cocky self-assurance and his know-it-all attitude annoy Caleigh. Even worse, he's gorgeous and knows it. But in the classroom, he is all business. Caleigh is irresistibly drawn to that professional, mature persona, and soon they discover that they work well together.
Because of this, the World Security League asks them to help a young woman who survived a mass murder in which five of her friends were brutally slaughtered. Her memories of the horror are repressed. Miles will have to hypnotize her to get the answers needed to solve the case. As for Caleigh, she'll monitor the emotions of their subject to avoid irreversible trauma.
Simple enough, right? Only if things are really what they seem.
Erin has problems. Her parents are divorced. Her stepdad is a jerk. Her real dad, while willing to help her run away from home, insists that she hole up in a high school for psychics so she can complete her senior year. Why does he think this is a good idea? Well, that would be problem number four--ghosts. As in, she sees them, the reason Dad thinks specialized schooling is a good idea.
Although Erin has doubts, she quickly learns that high schools are pretty much the same everywhere. In fact, the only difference in this school and her last is the number of students who attend--way less--and her afternoon classes, which are all held in the Mind Studies Annex.
Since Mom is certainly looking for her, Erin keeps her circumstances a secret. Nervous, shy, and doubting her abilities, she's still able to connect with a couple of other students. But it's only when Erin meets Trace, a stone mason helping renovate the school, that she begins to relax. Her beloved dad is a mason, too. Trace is wonderfully blue collar. Even better, he's not a mentalist like most of the guys on campus are. In fact, she feels very grounded whenever she's with him.
But even down-to-earth Trace has his secrets. And the nature of them could be another problem Erin has to worry and wonder about.
Shiloh Nilsen lives at one end of the street. Nathan Conti lives at the other. In all her eighteen years, they've never met in the middle. Why? Because he attends a special school for psychics in Wyoming while she goes to their neighborhood public school, Dillon High, right there in Montana.
Nothing changes until Shiloh loses a treasured family heirloom--a ring that dates back centuries. Desperate to find it before her mom figures out it's missing, Shiloh crashes a birthday party just to meet Nate. If the local newspaper is right, he has psychic gifts. She hopes one of them will help her out of a mess she can only blame on herself.
Nate reluctantly agrees to accompany her to a local ghost town, the last place she wore the ring. With the weather getting worse by the minute, they search everywhere she hiked until the skies open up and they're forced to take shelter in the ruins. Huddled there, they talk about his psychic abilities, a conversation that opens Shiloh's mind to what's really out there.
Unfortunately, Nate's conclusion about the ring's location isn't at all what Shiloh was expecting. Instead of getting closure, she's faced with a new dilemma. She can either confess everything to her mom, who will be crushed, or she can confront the person who has the ring, a guy who, according to Nate, gives off some very bad vibes.
When Dani Donovan got a new heart, she also got something else--psychic abilities. Knowing things she shouldn't know has taken some getting used to, the reason she hasn't told her parents. They'd definitely flip out or, worse, take her to another doctor. The head kind this time.
Wanting to know more about her gifts, Dani decides to answer a World Security League call for psychics to help in the capture of the world's most wanted criminals. She heads to a Birmingham hotel so her new abilities can be tested. There she meets another psychic, Ren Mallett, who bursts into her mind while she's trying to read his. Their connection is so incredible that the WSL agents testing them promise to recommend that they work together.
Although Ren and Dani part ways after the testing, distance doesn't hinder their connection. And as she gets to know him better, their relationship evolves into a friendship, maybe more, at least on her end. Strange? Absolutely, but no stranger than finding a match on an online dating site. The difference is that she can't be catfished if she's reading his mind.
To make her parents happy, Dani finishes her current semester of college before heading to Rutledge. Ren, on the other hand, starts there immediately. When their mental conversations become less frequent and finally stop altogether, she chalks it up to whatever training and work he's been assigned. They'll talk face-to-face when she finally gets to The Rutledge Institute, herself. But when she gets there, Ren is nowhere to be found. She finds out that he's working undercover and seems to have lost contact not just with her, but with everyone.
Emily Storey has just flipped her entire life: new town, new apartment, new roomie, new job. She has also gone blonde and lost some weight. What Emily hasn't managed to do is kick other people's random thoughts out of her head. That's no easy feat for a psychic, especially one who has spent the last three years training to enhance her abilities, not suppress them.
Emily soon volunteers to feed the homeless one night a week, hoping she can help change other people's lives, too. But her good intentions are annihilated when Detective Bastian Rossi, a cop who speaks at her orientation meeting, warns them all against giving rides, loaning phones, or offering shelter to the street people they're feeding. Homelessness, he tells them, is a chronic problem that no single person can solve. All they're supposed to do is hand out sandwiches.
In spite of all that, Emily's first night on the street with her assigned partner goes very well until she begins intercepting random thoughts of the people they're feeding. She quickly learns that some of them aren't that needy while others have family willing to help out. But it's the scattered thoughts of a mystery male presence that bother her most-- "…blonde passing out sandwiches ...thinks she's saving lives…maybe I'll do her next…" Is she the "blonde" and if so, what, exactly, is this creep planning to do to her?
Though Emily could easily confide in the dashing homicide detective who has somehow found a place in her heart, she hesitates. Bastian already has his hands full with a local serial killer. She can definitely take care of herself…unless the guy inside her head is actually the evil murderer he's trying to find.
While overseeing renovations on Harvey House, the family inn, Maddie realizes she can see dead people--specifically her grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents, and great-great-great grandparents. While it's kind of cool to meet her ghostly ancestors, it worrisome that they're still hanging around the place. Maddie makes it her mission to convince them to move on, a goal complicated when her vacationing parents invite the ghost hunting stars of Strange and Stranger television show to come investigate Harvey House for anything paranormal.
The Harveys have high hopes that the inn will be declared "haunted" and become the getaway of choice for curious lodgers. Horrified, Maddie hopes the opposite, which is why she begs all her dead kin to hang out in the off-limits basement until the ghost hunters leave, a total of three nights' hiding. If they are detected, Harvey House will never be the same. Everyone promises to cooperate.
Maddie's first surprise is the arrival of five men instead of the four she expected. The Strange brothers, hosts of the series, have brought along a tech man and two videographers instead of one. Ben, they tell her, is a temporary hire and so new that they keep forgetting his last name.
Her second surprise is the obvious differences between Ben and the rest of the crew. The Stranges have dealt with so many spirits they’ve forgotten that each lived a life and may now missed by those left behind. Ben, on the other hand, is chagrined and apologizes to Maddie more than once for what he considers the disrespect of his bosses. Clearly, he is way too sensitive for this job, which makes his being there a mystery as intriguing to her as the mystery of the haunted inn is to the ghost hunters.