Having read some of Shiloh Walker’s romantic suspense stories before, I was both excited and a bit apprehensive about reading “Stolen.” Walker has a talent for creating intense stories with a serious creep factor. These are books that have kept me up at night with scary dreams. I felt as if I needed to find the right time to start “Stolen,” and this meant it took me a lot longer to read it than I had anticipated. But this weekend seemed to be the right time. Undoubtedly, “Stolen” lives up to the precedent set by Walker.
Shay Morgan is a reclusive writer, living in Alaska. Shay suffers from nightmares about her early years, years that she cannot remember. She is also hiding from a horrific event that happened when she was a teenager. Shay was kidnapped and raped by her stepfather.
Elliot Winter is a bookstore owner who is in love with the skittish Shay. The two had dated for a while before Elliot got too frustrated with Shay’s inability to share anything of herself. But when Shay learns that someone from her past is taking over her life, she turns to Elliot, having to reveal her secrets to him. Elliot refuses to let Shay face the danger on her own.
Beyond their romantic relationship, Shay must come to terms with her past, especially the parts that she can’t remember. Somebody is trying desperately to take care of Shay by taking over her life and isn’t willing to let anyone else get close to her. And this is the part of the story that is incredibly creepy. The villain was able to quite easily take over many parts of Shay’s life, severing her contract with her agent, murdering her best friend, accusing Elliot of rape, etc.
I actually had to take breaks while reading “Stolen” in order to process some of the nasty stuff that was happening. The identity theft felt extremely real, and is something that could happen easily to people. And the villain comes across as insane. I could not believe the lengths that this person went to in order to stalk Shay both in real life and in the online area. If this one doesn’t make you think about changing your passwords and managing your online life differently, you are made of very stern stuff.
While the story is compelling and enthralling, the suspense story line does overshadow the romance a bit. Had Shay and Elliot not had a previous relationship, I might have had a hard time believing in their happily ever after. The other issue that cropped up for me while reading was the heavy use of the word bitch. In most cases, the word was used to refer to the villain, who did absolutely deserve the term. However, the number of instances where Shay and Elliot use the word did pull me out of the story.
Despite these concerns, “Stolen” is an impressive romantic suspense. It may well scare readers and creep them out, but provides an ending that makes the rocky ride worth it.
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Book Disclosure: A book was provided by the publisher.