After the last book, I most eagerly dove into this one. The mystery and suspense and all that is going on in the small town of Madison grabbed me up. As I pushed through this one, I encountered one reveal after another. There are layers upon layers of secrets here so that even if I got a few sorted, the answers just led to more questions. And that was…so good. I love it when I have my confidence shaken when I think I’ve got the answers and turned upside down by a twisty story. Shiloh Walker is to romantic suspense what Betty Crocker is to cookbooks. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick up her books.
Anywhozit, I’m going to suggest anyone who doesn’t want spoilers for the first book to stop here. I try to keep stuff spoiler free, but I don’t want to responsible for screwing up someone else’s reading experience. This is not a standalone or one to be read out of order. It definitely needs to be read after book one and even better if you can get the prequel series of books too for even better connection to the story.
‘kay, now that you’re warned, here’s my summary. This book picks up right where the other left off though a few more lead characters have dropped into the mix. In Madison, all hell has broken loose and in a sense I don’t mean that figuratively. The cover-up for the rape and torture club hidden in the community is no more. The town is awakened to it thanks to several people setting things in motion so that over two decades of secrets are pouring out. But not all of them. Men have been arrested, other men have been taken down by a mysterious vigilante, and still others hide in the shadows. Jensen Bell and her boss the chief of police are hunting answers in their way while Noah and Adam also work with the abused boys trying to gently coax what they know and help them heal. Meanwhile men are dying with confessional notes left near their bodies of their part in the club of abusers which destroys families and reputations.
The news of all this reaches the attention of a woman who has been hiding for twenty years. She thought it all ended twenty years before. She had been promised that their actions that bloody night ended it all, but now she sees that it just kept going even without the Sutters and the ones she knew about that were killed. The guilt and anger rushes in as she realizes that while she first tried to destroy her life with drugs and then later just hid away from life and who she really was that boys were still being used and hurt. It all never stopped. Now she’s got to pull it together, go back, and do what she can to make sure it ends for good this time.
Noah wasn’t the only one who lost the girl he loved the night Lana disappeared. Adam, the boy across the street, had loved her even longer than Noah, but he didn’t act on it just waited for her to grow up. But then she chose Noah never even knowing about him and then she disappeared. He was quieter about his self-destruction, but he was right there with Noah except he switched from the booze to women as his choice of addiction when his parents died. Now after all these years, every day is a struggle and his control is on shaky ground. It doesn’t help that the town that was simmering has now had the lid blown off. He’s not sure how much more he can take, but that’s when the mysterious woman comes to town and he realizes that maybe now most of the secrets will come out.
I didn’t summarize as much as I tend to do because I don’t want to mess up the shock value of getting all the secrets as they come for those who plan to read this book. In fact, I’m going to keep a tight lid on my thoughts about this one when it comes to my afterthoughts for the same reason. The author built things up in the last book and let loose a string of reveals near the end. In this one, the reveals came as soon as I started reading because in a sense it’s not really a new book so much as just a new segment of an ongoing one.
Adam was an important side character in the last story and in this one, he takes point and gains a love interest in the mysterious lady. Adam was nearly broken by his demons that are all a result of unrequited love and a form of survivor’s guilt. I was so glad to see him get put back together and get the support of a woman who not only understands his addictions, but can tight slap those jerks in the face because of her own troubles. Although, even though I’m not saying much about her, this gal was driving me nuts the way she dilly-dallied around about giving up what she knew. I get the problem; I do- really I do. But as a reader, it was tough to see her holding some really high cards and not playing them so that everyone had to wait while she got up her courage. She dinked around until it was almost too late.
The romance, hot as it was, once again, had the feel of being slightly separate from the suspense and mystery going on. The romance was back burner because of the secrets sitting between the two of them and all that is going on around the town. These two characters play a strong role, but there are others just as deeply if not more so involved. There are several narrators some unknown because they are what I call the shadow characters working in the background. Most of the time, I’m not keen on the villains or even key ambiguous players getting a voice because it spoils the suspense for me, but gotta say…it really didn’t matter. I had one figured out and figured out a bit of what was going on and why, but it still doesn’t help when it comes to other things that are still a mystery. This is where I am totally in awe of this gal’s writing. She’s got this plot set up like those Russian nesting dolls. There are mysteries inside mysteries. It’s a tad confusing right now, but I’m still keenly vested here. One of the bigger reveals toward the end that shows who gets the next story has me just salivating for that third book.
All in all, if you haven’t guessed yet, this was one intense ride that I can’t wait to jump on again for round three. Romantic suspense lovers who like the romance spicy and the suspense darker and gritty need to go for this series.
My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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