Pub Date: February 2009
FTC: Traded through Paperback Swap
Why it was in the TBR: numerous positive recommendations on Twitter
I am a format snob. I rarely ever buy something in trade paperback format. So it takes a barrage of recommendations to get me to acquire a trade paperback to read. And back in early 2010, this series by Shiloh Walker (Broken, Book 2) was absolutely everywhere on Twitter and the romance blog circuit. Still, cautious little me just let it sit in my Paperback Swap request backlog until one was available. It took over a year. (It's now available in mass market paperback.)
For those looking for solid romantic suspense without dimwitted heroines, paranormal woo woo or inappropriate shacking up, this is for you. Fragile is grounded in the less pretty side of real life—in the ugly truths of child molestation, neglect, and emotional abuse. Far more of a suspense novel than a romance, the focus shifts away from the central couple quite frequently. Something I know can annoy many hardcore romance readers, but didn't bother me too much.
The book deals with abuse (both sexual and physical) in a straight-forward way. And as with most romantic suspense books, there's a strong element of violence against women, here. But it's very clearly NOT glorified in any way. It's not a plot device. It's an integral part of the story: Devon (our heroine) is a social worker who meets Luke during one of her many trips to the hospital to have an abused kid evaluated.
There are twists and turns throughout the book, and an unusual exploration of what happens to relationships after one partner experiences a life-changing trauma. There's no blasé dismissal of the psychological repercussions, which I found very refreshing.
What kept this from being an A read for me was what wasn't there. We got very little emotional insight into either character. Especially from Devon. I wanted some in-your-face emotional angst. And I expected more action from our hero throughout the book... he was military trained, but that seemed to take a huge backseat to his medical training. And while I was stumped at least partly by the whodunnit, I felt like the final resolution of the mystery was a bit rushed.
My Grade: B
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...