Renee was the homecoming queen with the perfect boyfriend and the perfect life. Lacey was the golden girl with the bright future. And Sherra always looked like the princess in a fairy tale. The three girls each seemed charmed-until one tragic night shattered their hopes for normalcy. Now, fifteen years later, the women are returning to their hometown of Madison, Ohio, where three men await them-each dangerous in his own way. And when each of the women succumb to desire, they may also find the safety they've been searching for.
I got this book at last year's Lori Foster/Dianne Castell get-together, and while Shiloh Walker
didn't write anything memorable in my book (like she did when she wrote in somone's book that it "great beating you"), I still love her and her books quite madly.
We meet Renee, Lacey, and Sherra during one fateful night when something tragic happens that all three end up being involved in. These three young women are completely different, but this one event brings them together and changes their lives forever.
Renee is the icy, perfect prom queen. Untouchable. Unaffected. Many think also uncaring. But beneath the surface Renee is not the rich bitch her classmates take her for. She's just too afraid to stand up against domineering people like her strong-willed mother, and more times than not she finds herself giving in to avoid conflict. But that fateful night, Renee does something unexpected: she takes action in order to protect someone else, never knowing the chain of events that would follow.
Lacey is the epitome of the golden girl, the one every person loved. She's got a great boyfriend, an athletic streak, and her eye on the future. But that night everything changed, and the safe, happy life she'd known for so long comes crumbling down. How can she go back to the way things were when there are so many terrible memories?
Sherra is the strangely lovely girl most people have learned to avoid. She uses her caustic tongue to cut people down as a defense mechanism, yet her background make her fair game for those who feel they are entitled to take. To hurt. When she's caught in a situation out of her control, she does what she must to survive, even if it means living with the nightmares for years.
Brought together by tragedy, united in friendship, these three women form a bond that will sustain them through the horror of what happened fifteen years ago, and maybe along the way find the love that has alluded each of them for so long...
Renee was the first to find someone she could truly be herself with, and who quite possibly understood that while she indulged her darkest fantasies in the bedroom, she didn't necessarily want that to carry over into other aspects of her life. She rebelled, but still maintained her own sense of self. She was bold enough and aware of herself enough that she didn't feel the need to fit into a lifestyle that she really didn't want. Having lived so much of her life under her mother's thumb, she was tired of giving in to other people's demands. So when she meets a man who is willing to take her as far as she wants to go but also knows that it ends once they step outside the bedroom, it's gratifying, freeing, and a complete relief. She never thought she'd find someone who understood her so well.
Lacey was always the person who drew people to her,but the events of fifteen years ago had her shutting herself off from others, and it showed in her art. Though she's been home before over the years, it wasn't until five years ago that she encountered a man who finally made her feel. But miscommunication and hurt pride keeps them from really finding something that could be real between them. Now Lacey has come home again, and maybe this time she'll get a chance to explore those feelings that only seem to awaken when she's with a certain man.
Sherra has locked herself away in a ivory tower, writing her stories and not really having any kind of a life. She has a few friends and a brother she adores, but there's no man in her life, or anything close to resembling a normal relationship. Going out on tour, her agent insists on providing Sherra with a bodyguard, and while she's none to pleased to have someone hovering over her and not giving her any privacy, she can't help the shivers of awareness she feels whenever he looks at her. Maybe, just maybe this time, things will be different...
No doubt about it, I loved this book. I loved each of the characters, even when they drove me a little crazy for being so stubborn. I could still tell their heart was in the right place. I loved how each heroine had her own story, which developed as the rest of the story was unfolding. There was an ongoing thread that begins in Renee's story, runs through Lacey's, and culminates in Sherra's. These three women have not only bonded with each other due to a horific event, they've become lifelong friends. There's something to be said for your sister(s) of the heart, the women who support you and nag you and push you and are always there for you.
In addition to watching each of them fall in love with the man that is uniquely worthy to each of them, there is a suspenseful subplot tying the three novellas together. While it kept me glued to the pages for most of the book, I will admit that the discovery of who was involved in this plot was a trifle weak. We're thrown a few red herrings to deter us from figuring out what's really going on, and that was fun, but the actual outcome left something to be desired. I thought that angle of the story could have been woven tighter, been a little more clever, but it certainly isn't anything that detracted from my enjoyment of the romances that were developing.
And Shiloh makes each heroine distinctly different, but not so much so that we cannot see them knowing each other or being such close friends. They have their own lives, their own careers and interests, but what's at the core of each of them is similar enough to share lifelong friendships. Their sex lives and level of experience is also different, and we discover how each woman reacted differently to what they remember and took away from that unforgettable night so long ago that still stays fresh in their minds. In turn she's paired them with men who complement them, who give them the confidence to be who they truly are and to help face the demons that have followed them for so long.
As always, I'm (quietly) blown away by how distinctive Shiloh's voice is in every story she writes. It's like biting into your favorite candy bar and being pleasantly surprised that no matter how many times you've eaten one before, there's always that combination of sweetness and bite that surprises and delights you, something you kinda forget about until the next time you indulge, and then you want nothing more than to savor it until the bittersweet end.
Another winner from Shiloh. I sound like a broken record but it is what it is: a wonderful reading experience.
Rating: ***** out of *****
Labels: Shiloh Walker