Sometimes the mood strikes me for an intense contemporary romance, nail biting suspense and leap-of-the-pages characters, which is all poured in to my mind with imaginative storytelling. On such an occasion The Missing popped in to my view from my shelves. I cracked the spine, started reading the first chapter and from there, Shiloh Walker delivered all I wanted from a PNR suspense.
The story begins in the summer of 1992 with a blossoming vacation romance between young adults Cullen Morgan and Taige Branch. I was immediately absorbed by the gradual budding and deepening attraction. To see Taige and Cullen's personalities alter through various circumstances in to adulthood gave me smiles, deep sighs and heartache. The setup of the story is formidable, the backstory of both characters rich and it made the impact of the break up between them even more devastating.
The only paranormal element in The Missing is the fact Taige has a psychic ability. Even though it was the only element in the story it still was an integral part. Taige as a teenager is dealing with her ability as best as she can. Cullen's reaction to it is very open and it actually strengthens their bond, but then Shiloh Walker developed a conflict that ripped my heart out. Over the course of the chapters I became very attached to both main characters. Each in their own way is so very likable which made me root for Taige and Cullen as a couple! Their individual feelings and actions are understandable in the anxious moments but to see them apart was heart breaking.
Then the story fast forwards years to the spring of 2008 and Taige and Cullen are adults now. Cullen is a widower with a daughter who is kidnapped. It throws them back together again with issues to resolve other than the kidnapping of Jillian. I thought the kidnapping was actually quite easily resolved but it pointed Taige and Cullen in the direction of the unsub. This brought a whole new kind of tension to the story. The more I got to know about what the unsub had done, the more I wanted retribution for the innocent. Amidst the suspense there was also a tension of a different kind going on. The fire between Taige and Cullen was long from extinguished. The magnetic attraction was undeniable, and the passion lit up like a bonfire. I would say the verbal sparring was almost like foreplay only to make way for the deep well of emotions pulling these two characters together.
Shiloh Walker can do sexy where the desire almost bleeds from the pages! It is then absorbed by my imaginaton and manages to set my blood on fire. The love was like a beating pulse within the story and the push-pull between Taige and Cullen only added to the knowledge they were made for each other. The connection between Taige and Jillian, which might've been a convenient plot twist, was endearing. The minimal cast of characters had a maximum effect and Taylor Jones was a character who got a rise out of me. As in; let me punch you, I was just as protective of Jillian as Taige. He irked me but intrigued me at the same time. Annoying attitude and mystery turned him in to another character who added his pizzazz to the unfolding plot.
The balance between romance and suspense is like a 1-2 punch. It enhances each other to a point where it irrevocably draws me in, keeps me on the edge of my seat, and I just can't stop until it is all revealed. The villain was an easy guess for me but because of gruesome actions I wanted this person punished. From the very beginning Shiloh Walker is step by step building up to a conclusion that satisfied me on various levels.
Shiloh Walker's seamless blend of all-consuming romance and whodunnit plot is one of the addictive kind! Read one and you'll want more.