Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “It’s not a game of winning or losing. I know that much. She’s dead. I’m alive. In the end, that’s the thing that matters. Isn’t it?”
Shay Morgan, a mystery author who writes under a pen name, was horrifically abused as a child and an adult. Major trust issues have forced her to live her life only connected to the word through the internet and phone. When she goes to a bookstore and sees her books, with a sign claiming signed personally by her, Shay knows something is wrong. Further research shows a person impersonating her at in store book signings and online. When a Facebook page appears on the internet, written as though she is accusing ex-boyfriend Elliot of crimes against her, Shay decides to take action. This only infuriates her stalker and soon, it becomes very personal as the stalker reveals knowledge about Shay that no one would know. Shay decides to contact Elliott for help in reclaiming her identity and her life.
Elliot Winter loved Shay with every breath he took, but her inability to trust him drove them apart. When Shay’s stalker plants false accusations that threatens to destroy everything he’s rebuilt, Elliot finds himself once again back in her life. This time, Elliot will have to convince Shay to trust him with more than her secrets and her heart; this time she will have to trust him with her life in order defeat a stalker who knows all their secrets.
Stolen is a dark, gritty, psychological romantic suspense that takes the perceived notion of online anonymity and blows it out of the water. I have always maintained that you can never be 100% anonymous online. Walker takes that premise; examines it, dissects it and then proceeds to show us just how easy it is to use social media to find and stalk a person. Ms. Walker continues to deliver her trademark scorching hot love scenes and dynamic, personable characters, but she raises the bar, building even more suspense and intrigue that will keep you hooked till the last page. Steady pacing and a suspenseful storyline will have you second guessing yourself along with Shay, as new clues are revealed. Ms. Walker gives us hints fairly early on to the villain’s identity; allowing for the rest of the book to lead us down a twisted path of lies, deception, and death. Nothing and no one is what they seem in this tale. The beginning starts out fast and furious as our heroine begins to see the trickles of another’s influence on her life. Every aspect of her life is slowly being taken over from emails to phone numbers. Is she insane? Or does someone from Shay’s past come back to mete out their final punishment? The book does slow down as Shay deals with the actual physical aspects of reclaiming her identity and outing the villain, but picks back up as Shay and Elliot race to confront her stalker.
Shay and Elliot are two well defined protagonists. Their chemistry burns hot and sultry, quickly becomes a raging inferno as these two dance around what has never been an issue for them-their attraction to one another. Ms. Walker does a wonderful job in handling Shay’s fears and problems. The fear, anger, and sense of helplessness are all physically felt as you watch Shay struggle to let go of herself imposed prison. Elliot too has issues from the past that are brought into play that reveals his own feelings of inadequacy and fear. Elliot does a wonderful job with handling Shay’s internal and external issues. He isn’t so alpha that he thinks he can fix them all with a wave of his hand. He’s so gentle with her. *happy sigh*
“I miss you.”
Closing her eyes, she whispered, “Don’t.”
His lips brushed across the side of her brow. “Don’t what? Tell you that I miss you? Miss us?”
Both Shay and Elliot are intelligent, independent, and loyal individuals. I’ve always loved that Ms. Walker never draws out any misunderstandings or problems between the protagonists in her stories. They may have them but she doesn’t make it so much of a main storyline as more of a bridge for our characters to connect with. However, throughout the story, Shay’s issues run so deep; they are a constant thorn, pricking at us. She makes some decisions that frustrated me. I understood her motives, but I still found myself wanting to shake some sense into her at times. She has a bit of a martyr complex. Regardless, the slow steamy sexual heat and tension these two generate will leave you wanting more as you watch them rediscover their love.
Secondary characters keep the story on track and add depth and realism to the story. We are given interesting insight into all the people an author interacts with when publishing a book. The villain is an intelligent, paranoid,narcissistic, sociopath. The nature of their insanity becomes more apparent as we watch the lengths they go to get to Shay. Though we are clued in to villain’s identity early on, it’s when all the connections are revealed, that the true scope of the villain’s depravity is discovered. The villain’s reasoning makes sense, except, their insanity twists and transforms it into something unnatural and ugly.
If dark and gritty suspense romances are your genre of choice, then I wholeheartedly recommend Shiloh Walker’s Stolen. A genuine psychological thriller with plenty of suspense, mystery, and romance to hook you to the very end.