Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade; Original edition (February 3, 2009)
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Connected novel with BROKEN
Main Characters: Luke Rafferty and Devon Manning
Book Origin: Personal Library
Six years after trading in his combat gear for hospital scrubs, Luke Rafferty is faced with things just as heartbreaking as those on the battlefield. The abused children being brought in by the pretty redheaded social worker tug at his soul like nothing he's ever known.
For Devon Manning, being a social worker is a rewarding job, but also a constant reminder of her own troubled youth. Devon takes everything one day at a time-unable to form a relationship with anyone except the children she rescues.
When Luke meets Devon, he thinks he might have found what he's been looking for, but in order to get the life he wants, Luke has to break through Devon's emotional barriers and make her realize that his healing touch might be just the complication her life needs...
My Review: When I read Pearl’s review of Shiloh Walker’s BROKEN I knew I was in big trouble because Quinn pushed so many hot buttons that I went up in flames. Still it was FRAGILE I needed to read first and with this story came Luke Rafferty, a character who had his own way of charming me and I realized very soon Luke and Quinn were double trouble in the best of ways for me!
Shiloh Walker, who is a new-to-me author, enters my book realm with the story of ex-Ranger Luke Rafferty and social worker Devon Manning. This author doesn't hold back and from the first page emotionally sucker punched me with the scene of long lost twin brothers who are reunited at the age of eleven. Then I was quickly taken twenty years forward were Luke decided to quit the Rangers, which was another turn point between both brothers to end up another six years later where Luke works in the ER of Rudding Memorial Hospital. This is where Luke meets Devon Manning.
From the moment I met Luke Rafferty in this story he has been romancing my heart. He is the kind of man who sticks by you in tough situations, who is nice, loyal, gentle yet with a rough edge. While I thoroughly enjoyed him and while I loved his interaction with Devon, I just like my heroes a little more damaged, darker and tortured. That is why Quinn, his twin brother, pulled every heartstring I have. Opposite of Luke there was Devon Manning, she had a tough childhood before she ended up with her adoptive parents, the Mannings. She is strong and vulnerable, passionate yet also guarded and a driven woman altogether. Devon is the kind of woman with scars on her soul but still has a strength that radiates from within, that is something that captured me and made me like her so.
Shiloh Walker gave life to characters where I say; It was instant attraction, that is what I had with the characters, and they pulled me in to a story that was layered with not only a searing romance, intense dialogues or a mind-boggling good chemistry. It is also the suspense that was effectively intertwined within the romance development which enhanced both aspects of the story. The strength of the plot lay with the faceless nemesis who could attack at any time. Shiloh Walker gave a few signals that danger was on the lure but never the nemesis' POV, she never gave away too many clues which made the tension sky-rocket. I was on a constant edge what would happen next.
The tension factor did not only play on my nerves, it was what it did with Devon and Luke that made me feel it in the first place. Devon had a lot to endure and while the fear was eating away at her there was an inner core of steel that I got to admire. Luke at the other hand witnessed the emotional and physical deterioration of the woman he loved and I could empathize with his anger, his feelings of incompetence not being able to protect. The suspense had twist and turns where Shiloh Walker made me believe one thing and then in the end manages to completely catch me off guard with the actual revealing of the evil mind behind it all.
Over the course of the story the romance grew from the flirtatious falling in love to a deeper, lasting connection with the powerful force of erotic chemistry spicing it up. It is the kind of story which just made me read on and on, unwilling to put the book down, and for me it is a testimony of the incredible writing voice Shiloh Walker possesses. The only reason this book isn't getting a higher rating is purely out of personal preferences in characterization and I'm missing Luke and Quinn's father for some reason. He was such an influence as the boys grew up but he's completely out of the picture in the actual story. Still I know, without a shadow of a doubt, this author will hit my bulls-eye sooner rather than later!
Shiloh Walker holds nothing back and gives the kind of characters who come to matter to a reader, who you experience every high and low with, every angst and joy and who make you ecstatic when they reach a place that is called happily ever after. FRAGILE is undiluted romance suspense that made this author an instant keeper on my shelves.
“Devon, look at me.” She didn’t want to. But there was something so gentle, so compelling about his voice. Reluctantly, she turned her head and met his eyes. […] “Don’t write me off,” he murmered. Too late, she thought sourly. Too fricking insightful, she thought again. Just more proof of why she didn’t need that man in her life. Those eyes of hers showed too much and not enough, all at the same time, Luke decided. He could tell, just be looking at her, that all she wanted to do was kiss his sorry ass good-bye. But there were also unspoken secrets, a guardedness that made him want to smash down the walls she erected. “Don’t write me off,” he murmered again, and he had to close his hands into fists to keep from reaching her.
Quote Quinn:Coming Thursday Double Trouble, part two; BROKEN, will be up on the blog :)
“Yeah, like I’m any kind of poster child.” Quinn smirked, but then it softened into a real smile. “You’re the best friend I ever have, Luke. Only decent thing mom ever did was give you to me.” (<- My heart lay at his feat when I read this)