"Chains," Shiloh Walker

Pros: Very intense; outstanding characters and relationships; skillful handling of delicate topics
Cons: Wanted a teensy bit more about how the women found satisfaction in their jobs as well as their relationships
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.
Visit Shiloh Walker online.

 

Fifteen years ago, three girls in their senior year of high school in Madison had almost nothing in common—until they experienced a terrible tragedy that bound them together and sent them fleeing from their hometown.

Renee was the icy-perfect prom queen from old money, dating the Mayor’s perfect son. After that night she fled her mother’s plans for her to become a pampered trophy wife, instead choosing to train as a chef and play at the lifestyle of a submissive. Night after night, however, she still has nightmares in which she can smell blood.

Lacey was the school’s sweetheart—as good-tempered as she was pretty and strong. She’s become a photographer, but she’s been told her work lacks heart, and she knows it’s true. Five years ago she found pleasure in the arms of Madison’s sheriff, but he walked out on her, and no one else satisfies her.

Sherra was the school’s bad girl, a pint-sized troublemaker. Now she writes best-selling horror novels to exorcise her own demons. The idea of being touched by any man terrifies her, and now because of the threatening notes and emails she’s been receiving, she’s stuck with an overbearing bodyguard.

All three women are headed back to Madison for their 15-year reunion, and for the kickoff of Sherra’s big booksigning tour. They’ve become friends in the intervening years, and they’ve each found their own measure of success, but they’re lonely and afraid. Now they’re going to have to face their fears, conquer them, and conquer the monster that’s stalking them.

 

Shiloh Walker’s Chains is the best of her work I’ve read yet—and that’s saying something, as I’ve become a pretty big fan over the last year or so. It’s written in three parts, one for each woman of the tale, but the stories are woven together into one long novel.

So many of the book’s characters are fantastic—I won’t go into them individually because I’d keep you here forever! In particular the three women have a great deal of depth to them. You can easily see both how they fit into the typical niches in high school, and how they were (and grew into) so much more. The only teensy thing I wanted was a little more on how the women would end up faring in their careers after the end of the book, but there were some little hints here and there, so that’s barely even a complaint. The women encountered a variety of people from high school in their return, so it even made sense that some fit into stereotypes of that-guy-from-high-school while others didn’t. There was enough variety to make it work.

The romantic relationships were breathtakingly wonderful, as was the sex. Everything that has annoyed me about poorly-handled dom/sub relationships in some recent books was handled ideally here. Shiloh beautifully handles the creation of a character—Renee—who is submissive in bed, yet strong in character and will. And her love interest is excitingly dominant without being abusive and cruel. Each relationship in the book has its own character and feel, and I loved each one. Shiloh also writes some of the most smoothly erotic sex scenes, in my opinion. I seriously admire any author who can turn the act of a man using a condom into an erotic, loving, and respectful part of a sex scene.

However, what makes Chains so utterly amazing isn’t just the relationships, characters, and sex. As if that wasn’t enough, the suspense plot will definitely keep your pulse racing! I started reading this book over breakfast yesterday and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished the very last page. I even walked around the house reading it as I got out lunch. I was glued to every last development, wanting to find out who the bad guy was (or bad guys), what the motivation was for stalking the three women, and how things would work out.

My only warning is that this is a suspense/thriller, and it does contain some dark subject matter, such as death and rape. And of course some very explicit, very sizzling sex!

This is the best of Shiloh that I’ve seen so far, and I can’t wait to read more!

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