From the national bestselling author whose stories are "exhilerating [and] action-packed" (Midwest Book Review) comes a sinfully sexy novel of romantic suspense about a woman whos psychic gift drives away the man she loves - and years later draws him back to her...
As a teenager, Taige Branch was able to do things with her psychic gift that others couldn't understand - except for Cullen Morgan, the boy who stole her heart. He did his best to accept her abilities, until his mother was brutally murdered - and he couldn't forgive Taige for not preventing her death.
Now a widowed father, Cullen Morgan has never forgotten Taige. But what brings her back into his life is another tragic event. His beloved little girl has been kidnapped, and Taige is his only hope of finding her.
A LOVE THAT NEVER DIED
Working together against the clock, Cullen and Taige can't help but wonder whether - if they find his daughter in time - it isn't too late for the overpowering love that still burns between them...
Once again, I am blown away by a story Shiloh Walker has written. It sounds almost negative, doesn't it, to say that I was predictably impressed with another one of her books, but well, it's the truth. I can't help it if I love them so much. I just do.
Taige Branch had always felt alone and unwanted since her parents died. Living with her God-fearing, disapproving uncle, she has had to learn to fend for herself, even against those bigger and stronger than her who thought she was an easy target. One night when she comes across some guys looking for trouble, it looks like she's finally found herself in a situation she cannot overcome, and it looks pretty bad. Just when the helpless frustration and desperation set in, someone comes along and saves her from being raped. That someone is Cullen Morgan.
Cullen has noticed Taige around, senses her loneliness and is drawn to her sad beauty. But she won't give him the time of day. Not until he comes across her being attacked, and fortunately manages to get to her before it's too late. It would have devastated Cullen to see anything happen to the brave, stoic girl he can't stop thinking about. She's unlike anyone he's ever known before.
From that point on, whenever Cullen and his family come to Alabama for vacation, Taige and Cullen are pretty much inseparable, and what started out as infatuation soon blossoms into a passionate and intense love. No other boy has ever made Taige feel special, or that she was worth something. But Cullen is different. He values her as a person, loves her as a woman, and even accepts the unusual gift she's had for as long as she can remember. Because of all that, she knows in her heart that he is the only man for her.
But then something horrible happens to Cullen's murder, and though there was nothing Taige could have done to prevent it, Cullen still blames her because she had an ability that could have done something to save her, and he cannot forgive her for that.
Years later, Taige is now someone who, by using her unique abilities, can find people who have been kidnapped, mostly children. Despite the terrible way things had ended between her and Cullen, she uses that experience to turn it into something that could be considered meaningful. Cullen has always regretted the way he handled things with Taige, but he never forgot about her. In fact, he's been keeping an eye on her over the years, and he knows his harsh words drove her to become this driven stranger who finds missing people for a living. He just never thought he'd ever need to come to her for help, but when his precious daughter is taken, there's nowhere else he can turn. Taige has to find his daughter...
Yes, this one packs a ton of emotion between its pages, and then some. Taige has few friends, and not much of what you could call family, and it's turned her into a serious, cautious young woman. She notices Cullen on the beach, and even thinks he's kinda cute, but she's not willing to take it any further than that. But when he rescues her from being raped, she can no longer ignore the gentle yet intense young man who makes her heart race.
I liked how Cullen kinda coaxed Taige out of her shell, showed her that she was worth being someone to care about. I think it gave her a bit of confidence to have someone put so much faith into her. But Taige wasn't a stupid, impulsive girl, so he took his time with her, which I appreciated.
I think he was too harsh on her after his mom died, but unless you're in that situation, it's really hard to judge what you'd do with all that pain and grief. Regardless, his actions drive her away, and it's years before they see each other again, under similar circumstances. This time it's his daughter who needs help, and Taige is the only one he can turn to. I liked that although things had ended badly between them, he still had enough faith in her to trust she'd find his child. Despite how terrified he was, he still believed in Taige, and that meant something.
Taige was one of those people who was the job, and it took its toll on her significantly. She drank probably too much, hardly slept, and didn't have much in the way of relationships. What she did completely drained her, but she still managed to do it on her own terms. Having Cullen reappear in her life is both a blessing and a curse. She still loves him, but he is also hurting, and in turn that hurts her. He is the one man she can ever be with, and under the circumstances, how could he ever want anything to do with her? She would always be a reminder of some of the most painful times in his life.
But Cullen doesn't see things that way, and he's bound and determined to prove that to her. He's not going to let her walk away again, no matter what happens. He'd done that once, and though he gained a precious daughter out of it, he still never had his complete heart. He's in full "redeeming myself" mode, and I was happy to see that.
Another poignant, emotional story, one that is vying for the spot as my favorite Shiloh Walker book. If there is any complaint I had, I will touch on it briefly. There was a scene when both Taige and Cullen confront his daughter's kidnapper, and though it was obvious he was an evil, dangerous man, both Cullen and Taige turn their back on him, not just once, but twice! And I understood it drove the story to come to its climax, but the way it happened had me rolling my eyes a bit, because each time the villain attacks. Come on, he's not stupid, but for a few moments, Cullen and Taige were. His actions drove the reader to the obvious conclusion, but I think it could have possibly been written a little differently.
But then there is still several pages of the book left afterwards, and things happen that soothed me enough that I closed the cover with a very happy sigh of contentment, and a few tears. (Because I'm PMS-ing and I turn into a damn emotional wreck!)
This is a stand-alone story, one that can probably be read in one sitting over savored over several. Granted however, with it being so emotional, you might want to take your time with it. And even now, I'm still remembering scenes and feeling that ache for Taige that turned into a much happier feeling when she was reunited with Cullen. Some things are just meant to be :)
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****
Labels: reviews, Shiloh Walker