DARKER THAN DESIRE - Shiloh Walker
Secrets and Shadows , Book 3
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-1-250-03242-3
March 2015
Romantic Suspense

Madison, Indiana - Present Day

Though on the surface Madison, Indiana seems to be your typical small town, in recent months the ugly secrets beneath that surface have been slowly revealed, leaving the town reeling.  Twenty years ago, Peter and Diane Sutter, their son, David, and a young woman named Lana, disappeared one night.  During renovations on what had been the Sutter's home, the bones of Diane Sutter had been discovered, and the townspeople have learned that Peter had been the leader of a secret club of prominent men who “initiated teenage boys into manhood” through physical and sexual abuse.  The abuse is still going on today, and Lana returns to town to bring that to light.

For twenty years, David Sutter hid within the Amish community, but between the uproar in town and the death of Abraham, the man who has been like a father to him for the past twenty years, David knows it's time to return to Madison.  Though he's lived with the Amish for so long, David never felt part of the community, and he's never really found the peace he was hoping to gain by living such a simple life.  The only time he truly feels peaceful is with Sybil Chalmers, but as the town now knows of the abuse he suffered as well as the tradition behind it, David feels that being with Sybil might not be the best thing for her, or the eight-year old nephew she is raising. But how can he step away from the only thing in his life that settles him?

Sybil Chalmers has always known exactly who her lover is and what he suffered, but now that the rest of the town has found out that he's the missing David Sutter, she feels him pulling away from her.  She's no stranger to being the subject of gossip, so she isn't worried about being linked to David.  Sybil loves him and is willing to fight for him, even knowing the biggest battle will be with David himself.

David has always known that one day his past would come back to haunt him and, in DARKER THAN DESIRE, it seems as if it has.  His relationship with his parents wasn't a warm one, even before the abuse started, and while he's become close to a few people since then, he still holds himself back from emotion.  The night of his disappearance twenty years earlier, local judge, Max Shepherd, brought David to Abraham Yedder, and each of the two men have been like a father to David.  The only other people he's truly let into his life are Sybil and her nephew, Drew.  The abuse he suffered as a child has been a cycle that goes back generations, and David feels it's only a matter of time before the town starts speculating on his relationship with Drew.  When he makes the decision to end things with Sybil, though, David starts to understand exactly how much she means to him, but it's not fair to turn her life upside down…is it?  Sybil is aware of not only David's past, but also the rage that he lives with, and yet she knows him to be a good man that she can't imagine her life without.  She's always kept silent about her feelings for him, but now that he's trying to distance himself, Sybil feels she has nothing to lose by letting David know their relationship has never been “just sex” for her.  But can she convince him that he is just what she – and Drew – need?

The third book in the Secrets and Shadows series wraps things up neatly for the readers, while at the same time keeping the focus on David and Sybil.  Because most of the secrets are exposed in the first two books, it's probably best to read the series in order to get a better understanding of the town as well as how the revelations came about.  With a few surprises still left, DARKER THAN DESIRE is a gripping novel that was very difficult to put down.

Jennifer Bishop