by Shiloh Walker, paranormal (2008)
Berkley, $14.00, ISBN 978-0-425-22438-0
The Missing is a romantic suspense story where the heroine is a psychic. It was an overdone premise when everyone wanted to be Kay Hooper a few years back, but in the current climate of urban fantasy romances, this one doesn't feel so clichéd anymore.
Cullen Morgan, our hero, and Taige Branch, our heroine, had a sweet teenage thing going back in 1992 when he was the tourist in Gulf Shores who saved Taige from a bunch of boys who wouldn't take no for an answer. This scene is a foreshadowing of how poor Taige is going to spend the rest of the story being a martyr to all kinds of problems, by the way. When Cullen and Taige fell in love, it wasn't meant to be when Taige had a vision of Cullen's mother getting murdered that arrived too late. Cullen, blaming Taige for his mother's death, decided to sleep with her one last time before ditching her from his life. Of course, Taige took it like the best of romance heroines and walked away instead of gutting him in the groin.
So, twelve years later, Cullen is back in Taige's life. This time around, his daughter Jillian is missing and Cullen wants Taige to help him. In the meantime, Taige has become this exploited Poor Little Psychic Girl who couldn't sleep, is on the verge of turning into an alcoholic because she has a hard time coping with her visions, and is generally acting like a poor little loony this close to having the mother of all nervous breakdowns. It is hard for me to root for a romance where the hero is essentially another person using her abilities. Of course, he loves her because he has this creepy scrapbook full of newspaper clippings about Taige and he apparently keeps close track of her throughout the years, but still, I can't help wishing that Taige will fall in love with some nice shrink who will give her easy access to the Prozac stash when he's not treating her like a princess. Poor Taige needs a break.
The suspense is a pretty standard case of a whackjob bent on torturing and murdering his victims. Unfortunately, the author has Cullen and Taige in this story going around doing things, like entering crime scenes and waving a gun in the process. While I don't mind such unrealistic depictions of investigative procedures if the story is written in a "don't take me seriously" manner, The Missing is written in a more sober manner so I often feel taken aback when Taige, a consultant for the FBI, and Cullen, a civilian, get to go about doing their brand of unofficial crime investigation with such ease.
The Missing is a well-written story. Alas, while normally I would have enjoyed myself even when I don't buy the romance, in this case I am presented with a double whammy of such a romance and a rather unbelievable suspense subplot. As far as bad puns go, I think it's right to say that there are indeed some things missing in The Missing.
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