I know I’m hooked on Shiloh Walker’s FBI Psychic series. If there’s a new title, I remind everyone not to bother me until I’ve read it. Really, forget phone calls, Facebooking, or dinner parties - I’ll be hunkered down with her book until the last page is turned. So why should I be surprised that she knocked me off my proverbial reader feet with Secrets & Shadows? Perhaps it’s because these are books that sneak up on you with characters that are so damaged that you spend a bit of time pondering how to put the puzzle pieces of their lives and souls together again. Plus there are mysteries and dark secrets threaded throughout the novellas and the novels.
I won’t be reviewing Sweeter Than Sin today, but will suggest that you pre-order it now. Because once you begin reading this series you will not be able to stop either.
The first three stories (novellas) each focus on one of three Bell siblings who have been traumatized by the loss of the mother. She walked out of their house twenty years ago to never be seen from again. As you’d expect these three have huge issues with trust and love - they’re each pretty broken. Walker reaches in and extracts and displays their souls to show us how broken.
The first novel involves even darker secrets that this town has hidden for far too long. (Some which are hinted at in the novellas.) I’ll admit that at times it was difficult for me to read as I was visualizing everything happening in front of me. And it can be hard. Very hard. But Walker’s writing style has become so powerful that there was no way I could stop reading - for even a minute.
I believe that it’s important to read these in order, even though they could easily be stand alone titles. Why? Simply because each of these stories provide shading and depth to this series that really has a lot to say about our society - that we should all listen and attend to. I don’t think small towns in Indiana are the only ones to keep their secrets hidden in the shadows and perhaps it’s time to cast time to cast some light, spotlights even, on prejudices and outlooks that eat away at some of our communities like cancer.
Shiloh Walker is one of those authors that transport the reader into a world of that’s sometimes not very pleasant, but impossible to resist the pull toward. Quite honestly I’ll be counting the months until the third book, Darker Than Desire is released in March 2015. Because, yes, I’m well and truly hooked on another five star series by Shiloh Walker.
Secrets & Shadows series by Shiloh Walker
Burn For Me: A Secrets & Shadows Story
St. Martin’s Paperbacks ⎜ 9781466858138 ⎜ $2.99 ⎜April 1, 2014
When this story opens, we encounter Tate and Ali in bed. Yes, these two are hot and heavy friends with benefits, but after three years Ali wants more. Familiar story right? Well, Shiloh Walker takes this trope makes it urgently fresh and powerful.
One of the reasons I love reading her books is that I hear and see both protagonists so clearly. When Shiloh Walker writes Tate’s (or any of the male protagonists parts), you really hear his voice. Yes, this is how guys act and think. That’s not to say the women aren’t equally strong or believable, just that there’s a power and strength in these stories that is equally fueled by testosterone as estrogen.
When single mom Ali spies a red Coach bag on a newcomer in her pizzeria, I’m there, lusting with her. She thinks she's unobserved, but I’m also looking at her through Tate’s eyes as he watches her, never letting on he’s really “seeing” her.
There’s fabulous passion, an unresolved mystery, and major trust issues to deal with. I wasn’t sure if everything would be resolved by the end of the book and the mystery isn’t. But this isn’t a cliffhanger ending, but a start of an evolving series that will focus on both this mystery and others that are hidden in the town’s shadows.
Break For Me: A Secrets & Shadows Story
St. Martin’s Paperbacks ⎜ 9781250032652 ⎜ $2.99 ⎜ April 22, 2014
Jensen Bell, Tate’s middle sister, is a detective. She’s chosen this life as she wants to protect other families and children from the loss that her own experienced when her mother disappeared. Like Tate, she’s also a bit broken inside, and love and trust for a partner isn’t something she knows.
But Jensen’s lady bits are very aware of the new district attorney Dean West, who is drool worthy. As Shiloh Walker describes him with his dreads, powerful musculature, and intelligence, I became as entranced as Jensen.
Plus, and this is a huge plus, it seems like Dean is a really good guy. Yes, he’s a bit broken inside too, but if he and Jensen can admit to their attraction. Well, who knows what will happen.
Once again, a bit more about their mother is revealed and Walker also reveals more about the community and some of the other characters. I’ll admit that a few make the hair on my back stand up, so I’ll be interested to see what lies ahead.
Long For Me: A Secrets & Shadows Story
St. Martin’s Paperbacks ⎜ 9781250032669 ⎜ $2.99 ⎜ May 13, 2014
Tate’s best friend, Guy Miller has had a crush on the youngest Bell sibling forever it seems. Or could it be a bit more?
Christina is the wild child. The slightly spoiled princess who had a hard time in school with undiagnosed dyslexia and ADD. Now she dyes her hair rainbow colors and communes with flowers. She’s the one who creates the weekly arrangements at their mother’s grave. Each one created with love and care.
Guy’s a sheriff’s deputy and it seems at one time they might have stepped over the friend line. But it’s clear that he’s the one person she finds safe harbor in. Another good guy.
Guy’s only sin is one of birth - his father. In jail as for theft and because he beat Guy’s mother to death, Guy’s father has another role to play in this story as the mystery of the Bell’s mother continues to unravel.
I found Christina to be a compelling character and had a great deal of empathy for her, but it was Guy that I cried with. Once again, Walker has brought to life and given voice to another amazing hero.
These three novellas are the perfect introduction to this addictive series. On their own, they are true page-turners and heartbreakers too.
Deeper Than Need: A Secrets & Shadows Novel
St. Martin’s Paperbacks ⎜ 9781250032409 ⎜ $7.99 ⎜ June 3, 2014
From the moment that Trinity Ewing and her son walk into the town pizzeria and Ali lusts over her red Coach bag, you know she’s going to stir things up. That first look between Trinity and Noah Benningford, well, I’m surprised my Kindle didn’t erupt into flames. Now, this all took place in the first novella, so you can imagine that I was anxiously waiting to find out their story. Really. I. Was.
The wait was worth it. Trinity has purchased a long-abandoned house on the outskirts of town that has a dark history she’s unaware of. But what she does know is that repairs have to be made and who’s the best contractor around? Noah.
The story takes off from there. I’m not going to give any spoilers away, but the secrets that house holds are dark, very dark and very, very disturbing. Shiloh Walker is able to explore twisted and dark predators and the ramifications on the souls and lives of their victims in a way that sets her apart from a lot of other authors. These crimes resonate with me for reasons I’m not going to explain here, but let me say that this is an incredibly convincing and believable story that rips away society’s pleasant facades to reveal some very unpleasant truths.
Noah’s life seems to have ended at that house when he was just seventeen and lost the girl of his dreams. Then he lost himself in the bottle and women. Now, he’s a different man, but still lost and broken. Trinity is also damaged, having had her faith and trust abused and scorned. It may be simple to assume that these to will have a happy ending, but it’s the journey they make in this story that is so outright compelling.
Noah’s constant struggle with sobriety and Trinity’s battle to trust are palpable. The secondary characters - Noah’s best friend Adam, the proprietor of the town bar, and Caine, the slightly mysterious Amish woodworker - are carefully drawn and as a reader I want to know more about them - now! In addition, there are voices of young boys at risk that call out in pain and need.
This is yet another book I couldn’t put down. I’ll admit to closing my eyes at certain points as I was scared - just like I do at the movies - but I kept reading and the journey Shiloh Walker took me on was deeper than need. It was one that I would not have missed for anything.
The next book in the series, Sweeter Than Sin: A Secrets & Shadows Novel, will be released on 30 September. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but in the meantime, I’ll advise you to grab these four titles and start reading.
Yes, Shiloh Walker’s Secrets & Shadows is a must-read suspense series!