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Review: Fragile by Shiloh Walker

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Fragile
Author: Shiloh Walker  
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2012 (reissue)
Publisher: Berkley
Rafferty Book #1
ISBN: 978-0425250954
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher
About the book:
BATTLE SCARRED
Six years after trading in his combat gear for hospital scrubs, Luke Rafferty still hasn’t found what he’s been searching for: a normal life. At his job, Luke is faced with things just as heartbreaking as those on the battlefield, none more so than the abused children brought in by a pretty red-headed social worker.
    
HEARTBROKEN
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.
    
A DESIRE TO HEAL
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…
What VampBards talking about:
I should have listened to my fellow reviewers a LONG time ago and picked up Shiloh Walker’s other titles.  Seriously.  I’ve read a TON this summer, and by far, Fragile, originally published in 2008, is the best book I’ve read.  Ms. Walker’s story-weaving, grasp of characterization, and the way she can keep the suspense in a story, even after the reader thinks they’ve got a grasp on the plot is nothing short of amazing!  If you’ve never read anything by Shiloh Walker, you’re in luck – there are two books available in this series, and Ms. Walker has four other series available to sate your reader!
Twins!  Luke and Quinn Rafferty take me back to Zhadist and Phury.  If you’ve read Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and don’t see the similarities, we gotta talk.  Luke is the good brother, and Quinn is the messed-up one.  Legitimately.  They were split at birth – druggie mom took Quinn and Luke was with his awesome dad.  They were reunited when they were eleven, and druggie mom died.  Seems like Luke & Quinn have the twin ‘connection’.  They seemed to do everything together until Luke was injured (they’re Special Ops in the service) and was medically discharged, later becoming a doctor.  Their group of Special Ops buddies are a tight-knit group.  Unfortunately, several of the members of their group, the Rangers, are killed and there are funerals, so Luke does periodically get to see the group.  This is an important connection throughout the story.  Ms. Walker does a great job ensuring that she provides periodic contact with members of the Rangers to keep the connection alive for the reader.  
Devon is our sassy heroine.  I absolutely LOVE her!  She’s a little thing, and has some self-esteem issues, but with her history, she’s allowed.  Devon is a social worker, dealing with abuse/neglect cases all day, every day.  With her background, she does a FABULOUS job connecting with kids.  We are zeroed-in on one case, however, which provides a lot of the conflict for the story.  Not all of it, mind you!   
Luke, upon completing his rehab from being shot while on a mission, became an ER doctor.  That’s where he first spied Devon.  He and Devon both had experience with abuse/neglect cases, and that was a common thread for them.  I really liked that their courtship seemed normal.  Luke wooed her.  He was gentle and tender.  His thought processes were honed in to her emotions, and he seemed to know when to give and when to take with Devon.
External conflicts.  Um.  Wow.  The first external conflict was difficult to handle for me, but I’ve got to say I couldn’t stay away from the book.  I HAD to know who the culprit was. There was one small piece of that first conflict that I thought I’d figured out.  I. Was. Wrong.  That never happens.  Kudos, Ms. Walker.  You stumped me!  By the time the rising action concluded for the second conflict, I had decided I was going to scream, yell, and basically have a tantrum if this story went a certain direction.  Win!  It didn’t.  
Bad guys and heroes are found in the most unlikely places in Fragile.  Warnings:  While Ms. Walker handles delicate and potentially disturbing topics, including child abuse and animal cruelty, she does so with tact, finesse and what felt like a reverence for the victims.  
This book is packed with some beautiful language, and the emotions expressed are absolutely heart-felt.  I cannot express adequately how IN LOVE with this book I am!  I cannot wait to pick up the next book in the series, Broken.
VampBards Rating:
Personal favorite – a must read (A+)


Purchase Info:
Fragile

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