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…
Luke Rafferty is searching for something. He's not exactly sure what that 'something' is but he definitely knows that something is missing in his life. Discharged from the Army Rangers after nearly shattering his leg, it was either a desk or teach. Luke chose life instead. Now, six years later, Luke works as ER doctor in Lexington, Kentucky, but he still hasn't found what he's been searching for until one night, while on his shift, he meets a social worker and her young charge that has suffered abuse. It doesn't take but a moment to realize that she's it; that the little red headed social worker is what he's been searching for all this time and now he can't seem to stop his heart from pounding.
Devon Manning knows that Luke is a complication that she doesn't need in her life. Each day is already a fight to continue, to keep her head steady and her heart beating. Her job as a social worker isn't ever easy but in a way it provides cathartic therapy for a past that still haunts her. Molested and raped as a child by her uncle, Devon was thrown out by her infuriated aunt after her husband went to jail for the crimes he committed. A young teen, Devon found herself on the streets, cold, hungry and alone with the only thought of how she was going to get her next fix until a kind social worker helped her. Eden, her guardian angel, secured her a home with two wonderful people who later adopted her and whom now Devon lovingly calls, Mom and Dad. Yet even with all the love she enjoys with her adopted family, Devon still has sexual hang ups when it comes to men and Luke is no exception. But the sexy doctor is mighty persistent and soon she finds herself in the whirlwind of a fledgling romance.
Luke knows that something really bad has happened in Devon's life but he gives her the time and space to know him before pushing her for the relationship he craves. Six weeks with a painful hard-on makes him edgy but he valiantly hangs onto his control. Luke's gentleness and understanding of Devon's past is beyond endearing and his slow and easy seduction of Devon is as sweet as it is thrilling. When Devon does finally reveal the sordid details of her youth, Luke can feel nothing but rage. Rage at the man that stole the innocence of the woman he loves and if that man wasn't already six feet under, he'd make sure that the moment happened none too soon. But it seems that despite the fact that her abuser is dead and gone, someone out there is stalking her and leaving dead animals gutted in her home. Luke's protectiveness toward Devon doubles tenfold leaving her feeling a little smothered. She understands the need to be careful but the thought of one of Luke's friends tailing her every day leaves her cold. Nerves rattled already, Devon doesn't think she could handle having a babysitter.
One couldn't really blame Luke with his frustration over Devon's flat refusal to have someone keeping watch over her while he's working his shifts at the hospital. Luke also has to deal with the fact that Devon has a very strong suspicion of who her stalker is but with her need to protect her kids, she'll not divulge the information to Luke. It was during this portion of the novel that Devon really bordered on being the "Too Stupid To Live" heroine that finds readers bashing their books against their heads. Yet despite Luke's frustration with Devon's stubbornness, he somehow finds the ability to respect her wishes, well to a certain extent anyway.
But all the protection in the world couldn't prevent Devon's stalker from finally having his way. Strangled and beaten within an inch of her death, Devon's attacker dies at the scene of the crime. While the cops assume that Devon must have bashed his head in with a large bookend, Devon can't remember having done that and she in fact has a vague memory of another person striking the fatal blow against her attacker, but her convictions aren't positive. Shaken to the core, Devon begins to once again withdrawal into her safe but lonely cocoon that shielded her before Luke came into her life. Meanwhile, Luke is consumed with guilt. After he swore he would protect Devon from any threat, she still lived once again through another predator's ugly assault. With Devon pulling away from him, Luke can only assume that she also blames him for his inability to protect her.
Devon and Luke manage to work through the awkwardness that's settled between them but their security is once again threatened, this time by the inner workings of Devon's own mind. Terrible dreams haunt her featuring Luke as the man that hurts her. While her dream Luke looks for all appearances to be the Luke she loves in her waking moments, there is just something off about the one in her dreams. The dream Luke radiates cruelty and rage while the real Luke makes her feel so miraculously safe. Devon's paranoia begins to escalate as well for she swears that she's once again being watched. Spooking at every shadow and believing herself to be insane, Devon ends things unofficially with Luke claiming that she needs time to work through her fear. When finally her dreams become a terrifying reality, it's not Luke standing before her with murder in his eyes, but someone she's never even met.
Luke was an amazing hero, sinfully sexy but also a wonderful gentleman with a kind heart. He's so careful with Devon while she laughingly tells him time and again that she won't break. She's true to her word too. Despite her tragic past, that would surely make a weaker person break, she finds solace in helping children that share the same tragedy and she pours every drop of her strength in being a guardian angel to them as Eden was to her.
There were some aspects of 'Fragile' that left me scratching my head. While Luke knows a lot about Devon's life, there seems to never really be a time where Devon inquires upon his own past or his family. There are several instances where Luke can divulge this information to Devon, yet there is always something that happens to distract them at that very moment. I also had my issues with Devon and her ridiculous stubbornness that very well could have gotten her killed. If I had a stalker who was leaving mutilated animals in my house, I surely would want someone guarding my life twenty-four/seven. I didn't understand her blatant refusal to allow Luke that peace of mind.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading 'Fragile' and I'm hoping very much that a certain secondary character will receive his much needed HEA. I don't want to say who for spoiler reasons but any reader will know exactly to whom I'm referring to once they read the novel.
Interested in 'Fragile'? Click here for more info.
You can also visit Erotic Horizon and the wonderful review posted HERE of 'Fragile'.
Interested in Shiloh Walker? Check out my review for 'Through the Veil'.