Lost Sierra

This week’s other featured book, “Musings,” by Don Tassone, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the Monthly Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page (Tassone 9).

THE BOOK:  Lost Sierra

: 2023

THE AUTHOR:  Amanda Traylor

: Florence & Reynolds

SUMMARY: 27-year-old Daphne Barlow escapes her parents’ ruthless expectations as the heir to their Fortune 10 organic food brand and finds a different kind of ruthlessness—the remote town of Sierra Ridge in the inhospitable Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. With a new PhD under her belt and eager to avoid her pre-determined path at the company named for her, Daphne seeks out an idyllic Mayberry existence in a small town where residents might appreciate her personal brand of homeopathic techniques and herbal cures. While she manages to gain a small collection of clients, she is mostly met with cold skepticism from the locals. When her favorite client—John Sharpe, an army veteran in his 70s—goes missing and no one in the town seems to be care, Daphne is deeply concerned. He saved her life once and she is bound and determined to return the favor.

Pitting herself against the townspeople, who assure her that Sharpe is just on a bender despite all the evidence she finds to the contrary, Daphne is drawn deeper and deeper into trouble, all while a wildfire rages closer and closer to the town.

It seems as if a local biker and a civilian deputy sheriff are willing to help, but the first could be hero or villain and the second winds up dead on Main Street. She’s told to leave her search for the truth alone by multiple people, and still she persists. Then her house is ransacked and a knife is held to her throat with a clear warning to be gone by the next morning. But the wildfire has finally arrived and she cannot find any place that’s safe.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Lost Sierra is a nickname for the particular geographic area. Explorers nicknamed it that because it was a slice of the beautiful Sierra Mountains that the rest of the world has seemingly forgotten about. That plays into the theme of a community surviving in micro-isolation.

Readers who love a McGuffin mystery will love this slow-burn story of a woman determined to unravel the spider web she has unwittingly found herself in. It will appeal to psychological thriller lovers who love a twisted plot but also enjoy rich settings and developed characters.


“This was a really well-done mystery novel and I really enjoyed getting to know Daphne Barlow.” – NetGalley Reviewer

“What a wonderfully paced thriller!” – NetGalley Reviewer

“This book was fantastic! I really enjoyed it and it kept me guessing throughout, which is difficult for most books to do. I felt like I connected with the characters and really enjoyed the plot!” – NetGalley Reviewer

:  Amanda Traylor grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, spending her childhood in the hustle of Silicon Valley and then her teenage years in a sleepy wine village of only 1,000 people. She attended undergraduate at not far from the fictional town of Sierra Ridge, earning a BA in English and Journalism. After college she moved to Southern California where she had a fantastic time living the beach life. She graduated Cum Laude from CSU, Fullerton with a master’s degree in Mass Communication Research where she was also Graduate Student of the Year and earned Kappa Tau Alpha honors for excellence in journalism. 

After way too much education, she started in the corporate world, working in internal communications and creative consulting before finally getting up the courage to write a book. She lit a match to her corporate life to write full time in 2018. She fell in love with a dashing hero (or is he a villain?) who dragged her away from her precious San Francisco. Now, she and her husband are a bit nomadic, having moved eight times in seven years (as of this writing) including five states and two countries, and currently call Colorado home with their toddler daughter. 

Amanda has published eighteen works of fiction, including thrillers, mysteries and romantic comedies.
“While I wrote Lost Sierra simply to tell an entertaining story, many issues of the day did come to the surface during its creation. The story revolves around a rural mountain town that while only a few hours from the wealthy, bustling San Francisco Bay Area, feels like a different country entirely. Daphne is a progressive, idealistic trust fund girl with romantic visions of what life in. Sierra Ridge will be like. The reality is that rural California, just like rural America in general, is facing serious hardships, from lack of medical care and jobs to growing anger, racism and feelings of desperation. The COVID pandemic hit while I was in the middle of writing the story and it changed my direction and tone as the world started to unravel.”


Page 94

“The Lost Sierra they called it. Nestled at the base of Plumas National Forest, this stretch of the Sierra Nevadas was an alpine wonderland of towering mountain peaks dotted with at least fifty glacially carved turquoise lakes, miles of hiking and trails. Sweeping vistas were around every turn—fertile valley floor farms beneath the rolling hills and snowcapped peaks. Hidden lake trails led to stunning views of rugged mountaintops. And best of all—there was room to breathe. 

At just nine people per square mile and a thousand miles of river, the beauty of this hidden Valhalla was that it felt like a preserved relic of the Wild West, a manifest destiny luring wanderers away from the city to escape into the humbling grandeur of the mountains, to swirl a pan in the Yuba River, where little sparkling nuggets could still be found. Unlike many areas of the Golden State, the full spectrum of seasons came at you full force. The trees gave way to an autumn rainbow of colors, snow fell just enough to give it a Swiss-like vibe, and the bounty of spring flowers juxtaposed against the lingering view of snow-capped peaks made the winter chill endurable.”

Page 116

“As twilight descended, the wind picked up again and now ripped through the trees with an agenda. A gray blanket was settling over them, their leaves now a rainbow of reds and oranges as fall moved in. I shivered despite the heat and pulled my long sweater more tightly around me. Dark things were coming and they were quickly accelerating. 

Nights could turn on you quickly this time of year, coming in with a dark inky blanket, coating the region with a crisp frost. The air was growing thinner, darker, more menacing. But like most things up here, the weather was unpredictable. Lingering summer battled against the mountain fall, vying for dominance over the region. Blistering days could sink into a sweeping chill without warning. It could then blaze again as fires raged in the dry valleys.

I first thought of this place as a mountain paradise. But that’s not quite what I found, was it? This place was a land without law, without mercy and heavy on judgment. A place that the rest of the world had abandoned. Maybe there was a reason for it. Maybe places that the world had left behind should be left alone. Perhaps you shouldn’t go digging where you didn’t want to find the body.”


PRICE: $5.99

CONTACT THE AUTHORshannon.donaghy@smithpublicity.com

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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