Despite the renowned family name, bookshop owner Archibald “Archie” Jaeger lacks the ability to finesse the family skill: finding lost objects. Unfortunately for Archie, rather than being completely powerless, he just can’t find what he wants to find when he needs to find it. In fact, Archie constantly feels the “ghost hands” of lost objects scrabbling at him—so much so that he loathes leaving the house. With his erratic finder abilities and distaste for going outside, running a lost and found service is a tough row to hoe for Archie and his business partner, a half nagi named Edie. By letting Edie handle the in-person interactions and goading (or browbeating) Archie into action, they manage to scrape by. That said, every paycheck is precious. That’s why, when a vampire on the verge of death walks into their midst, Edie sees and seizes a chance to make a small fortune…and volunteers Archie’s services.
The thought of death scares Gael Murray to the extent that he endeavored to become one of the undead. Although he eschews all contact with his coven and has neglected to pay the required tithe for decades now, Gael knows the coven is still together. That’s because all vampires in a coven go through a ritual that connects their very minds and allows vampires to sustain their immortality. Except Gael suddenly finds himself utterly without a single mental link to anyone in his coven. He has mere days to find two other vampires, ideally from his own coven, to establish these connections or he will die. What Gael needs is a finder. He needs Archie. But can a barely functioning finder with seriously disruptive behavioral ticks help Gael find his lost coven before it’s too late?
Jaeger’s Lost and Found is a sweet kind of get-together story that focuses on the personal and/or paranormal idiosyncrasies of its two main characters, Archie and Gael. In terms of sheer interest levels, I found Archie to be the more compelling of the two. Gränd details some of his behavior and emphasises how others view such behavior critically. Two of the most prevalent elements are Archie’s incredibly strong aversion to deviating from his schedule or going outside his bookshop and the way he repeats actions like closing doors or locking them. Gael picks up on this and through him wonders if perhaps Archie has agoraphobia or OCD. Archie himself seems to accept himself as is, but also seems convinced that his behavior is why he has a dearth of friends and romantic interests.
Meanwhile, Gael strikes me as a bland personality slotted into a vibrant story. With his black rockstar-inspired attire, Brittish accent, and being a vampire, he is a template for “cool.” Despite looking good on paper, I failed to connect to him at all. As Gael and Archie embark on this journey to find Gael’s coven and restore his vampiric connections, bits of Gael’s backstory come to light and personally, I found little sympathy for a character who’s suffering because of his own poor choices.
The romance that develops between Archie and Gael feels rushed to me. On the positive side, Gränd balances the vampiric lore elements between these two lovers well. Gael is jaded that, as a vampire, just about everyone who isn’t a vampire is automatically drawn to him. He wants to know something real, but given his choice to disassociate with other vampires, Gael is stuck with knowing any of his sexual/romantic partners literally cannot help themselves. Contrast that with Archie who, for whatever reason, is apparently immune to Gael’s vampiric charms. The fact that Archie doesn’t immediately fall all over himself in a desperate attempt to offer every last pleasure to Gael intrigues Gael. Unfortunately, the shift from vendor/client was clunky at best and once blowjobs are had, it’s like it’s a foregone conclusion they are made for each other.
As far as the world building goes, I really enjoyed Gränd vision of a paranormal world. There’s not a lot explaining how things turned out as they did (i.e. why it rains literally all the time, or when/why the friction between human and nonhuman worlds started), but they are consistently described and add a bit of depth to the story. On top of this, the tweaking to standard vampire canon was a fun twist. Gränd kept the idea that vampires die in direct sunlight, but without direct exposure, they just get extremely tired during daylight hours (and the longer the vampire has been around, the longer they can tolerate being awake during daylight hours). Edie, Archie’s friend and business partner, is a small nod to other supernatural beings. Her backstory is very limited, yet detailed enough to create some sympathy for her brash demeanor (she’s half nagi, so she’s not accepted by human or nagi groups and is resigned to pretend to be human).
Finally, there are a couple of plot elements that seem crucial to Gael’s story. One is his relationship to the vampire who made him. The other is his relationship with his ex. The former appears on page, the latter does not. Gael’s maker shows up twice, and both times she comes across as someone suffering from some sort of neurologically degenerative disease (i.e. she seems unaware that her coven has disbanded or that Gael is in dire straits; she believes Archie is actually his grandfather, with whom she had some kind of relationship in the past). Despite how important she is to Gael as a sire, her situation is never fully disclosed…nor does it seem to cross Gael’s mind that she might need some kind of assistance—either because she’s truly losing her faculties or because she’s being manipulated by other, more powerful vampires. As far as the ex goes, it seems like his actions (or inactions) directly cause Gael’s life-or-death situation, yet he never appears on page, nor does Gale ever seem to worry about how or why a former lover would, in effect, try and nearly succeed in killing him. These are intriguing plot points that I think don’t get sufficient discussion.
Overall, Jaeger’s Lost and Found is a pretty typical get-together romance. If you’re a fan of paranormal stories, I think Gränd’s worldbuilding will appeal. Fans of instalove will appreciate how quickly the romance develops (once the BJ threshold is crossed anyway). At the same time, it takes about half the story before Archie and Gael finally act on their secret crushes.