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 her 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…
THE MISSING is the story of Taige Branch and Cullen Morgan. It’s told in 2 parts and spans a time-period of 16 years. Part 1 shows us how Taige and Cullen meet and a lovely young love sparkles between the girl of mixed heritage with an extraordinary psychic gift she doesn’t want and the handsome all-American boy who comes to her town every summer on vacation. Teenage Paige is very mature for her age, probably because she’s always had only herself to depend on and teenage Cullen is sweet, protective and chivalrous.
A breaking point in their relationship is when Cullen’s mother is brutally killed and Cullen blames Taige for not being able to prevent it with her gift and they go their separate ways after a heartbreaking scene. I felt so very sorry for Taige when Cullen treated her like he did after his mother’s death. I felt he was being unreasonable. Even though I felt and, on some level, understood his pain and loss, it was Taige’s hurt that truly broke my heart.
After the first part, which to me was a very cleverly set-up and extensive prologue, the true story starts with part 2. It takes us 12 years down the road and shows us a Taige, who over the years has accepted her gift instead of fighting it and she has trained to control it so she can use it for her work as a civilian consultant with the FBI. Her gift, her heritage and her loss and hurt have turned her into a lonely, tough-as-nails woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Cullen is a widower and a novelist. He has a daughter and when she is taken it brings them back together as Cullen wants Taige to help him find his missing daughter. He’s never forgotten Taige and keeps tabs on her career without her knowing about it. Taige has also never forgotten about Cullen, the only man she’s ever truly loved and connected with. He has a prominent role in her dreams, making it impossible for her to forget him. When he asks for her help, she doesn’t even think about refusing to help him find his little girl.
Taige will be going onto my fave heroines-list. I admired her strength, tenacity and the way she dealt with life, Cullen and her gift. She’s a flawed yet marvelous character. Taige is a fighter. She’s not fearless, which luckily keeps her far away from TSTL territory, but she doesn’t let her fears hold back her fighting, warrior spirit.
The romance was hot and sizzling and it was a perfect counterpart for the emotionally heavy suspense plot. The development of their love was beautifully written and Shiloh Walker most definitely knows how to write love scenes that burn the pages to a crisp. Cullen and Taige’s first time was extremely hot yet realistic and anything but embellished. As I read it we were going through a heat wave that equaled the heat of this particular scene. For Cullen and Taige’s rekindled romance to work for me I needed Cullen to atone for the way he treated Taige when they broke up 12 years earlier and apologize for it. Though this was addressed soon after their reunion, I also felt it was a bit brushed over; Taige’s forgiveness was a bit too easily achieved but it was enough for me to make it work.
I loved the paranormal elements in this book. They were subtle enough for the book to remain labeled a romantic suspense and they were embedded perfectly throughout the story. I especially loved the way Taige and Cullen connected through their dreams, even when they were apart for years. But Taige’s and some other character’s gifts (don’t want to name them as not to spoil) were equally impressive to me.
The suspense grabbed me by the throat it was so good. The spin given to the suspense plot was one I didn’t completely see coming, though I did guess the identity of the kidnapper/serial killer a while before it was disclosed in the book, because of that spin. The twist was still surprising, intriguing and pleasantly unexpected, bringing the plot up to an even higher level than it already was for me. Once I knew the identity of the killer I was curious to see when and how Taige and Cullen would put the pieces of the puzzle together and Shiloh Walker did not disappoint me there, and gave me enough surprises to keep the suspense plot fresh and thrilling.
I really love Shiloh Walker’s writing. It’s emotionally intense, the suspense is thrilling and the sex is spine tingling. A three-way combo that hits the right button with me every single time I venture into the books this author writes. THE MISSING is no fluffy romantic book. It’s raw, unembellished and covers some harsh stuff involving kids. Still it never felt uncomfortable or pushing the limits. This is something I admire in Shiloh’s writing; the ability to broach difficult and hard subjects in a dark and gritty way yet still keeping it within my comfort zone with the story and emotions she weaves around them.
THE MISSING is a bittersweet, raw and emotionally gripping combination of romance and suspense, interspersed with a just enough paranormal to keep it in the realm of the believable and making me want to read the connected book (THE DEPARTED, which I found out will be the story of Taylor and Dez, secondary characters in THE MISSING) as soon as possible, and by that I mean yesterday. Unfortunately Shiloh told me it will be a while before THE DEPARTED will grace our bookshelves, but no worries…I can be patient. (really I can…)
Slowly, he slanted his mouth over hers, using his grip on her hair to angle her head up and back. He didn’t close his eyes; after this long he wanted to see her, wanted to see if he affected her the same way she still affected him. Her lashes fluttered over her eyes, and she moaned into his mouth, a hungry, kittenish sound. Slowly, he pushed his tongue into her mouth and gorged on the taste of her.
Cullen: “I plan on seducing you before the night is up, just so you know. I’m going to f*ck you blind, until you can’t see or hear or feel anything but me. Then I’m going to make love to you, soft and slow. Then I’m going to start all over again.”
9 out of 10