Author: Shiloh Walker
Read copy: eBook
Published: February 3, 2009
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Six years after trading in his combat gear for hospital scrubs, Luke Rafferty is faced with things just as heartbreaking as those on the battlefield. The abused children being brought in by the pretty redheaded social worker tug at his soul like nothing he's ever known.
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.
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…
In my years of reading I haven’t stumbled upon an author that could really beat Shiloh Walker in portraying tortured, abused, scarred, screwed-up characters. She’s a master at that. And even greater a master in making the reader empathize with those characters without their “whining” getting annoying. I know, the sympathy comes natural, but sometimes, sometimes you get the feeling these people are so used to their private pity-party that they don’t want to change. But please, don’t hold this statement against me.
Well, in SW world, I never think that. She portrays rounded, well-developed characters with amazing back-stories that let you glimpse into their life, understand what happened to them, sympathize with them, and admire them for their strength and courage to rise above it all and become better people.
And Fragile was no different. Devon was no different. Luke, though not really an abused character, was no different.
The story was well-paced, gripping, sweet and tender, suspenseful, pretty scary at times, and very well-written. That said, I cannot help but feel it all went on for a tad too long. One scare averted, that should’ve been the end of it, and the “psychotic” finale didn’t provide the cherry on the cake. It just felt too much, much over-done (with all the psychedelic “warfare”), and somehow out of tune with the whole story. Not to mention I really didn’t get the “revenge motive”. Sure, the guy was nuts, but still...
Maybe cutting out the scare in the middle (with yet another out-of-the-left-field motive), the finale would’ve worked best. As it was, I wasn’t really convinced and it sure started to read like a soap-opera screenplay.
But, apart from the messy second half, this book was pretty much better than what someone else writing about tortured, abused, scarred, screwed-up characters would’ve come up with.