The scream Lena Riddle hears in the woods behind her house is enough to curdle her blood—she has no doubt that a woman is in real danger. Unfortunately, with no physical evidence, the local law officers in small-town Ash, Kentucky, dismiss her claim. But Lena knows what she heard—and it leaves her filled with fear and frustration.
Ezra King is on leave from the state police, but he can’t escape the guilty memories that haunt his dreams. When he sees Lena, he is immediately drawn to her. He aches to touch her—to be touched by her—but is he too burdened by his tragic past to get close? When Ezra hears her story of an unknown woman’s screams, his instincts tell him that Lena’s life is also at risk—and his desire to protect her is as fierce as his need to possess her.
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HER NAME WAS CARLY WATSON.
The final hours of her life were brutal.
She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know how long she’d been there. By that point, she was so wracked with pain, so desperate for escape, she barely remembered who she was.
She was twenty-three. She was going to medical school. She was bright, eager, and before she’d fallen into this hell, she had loved life. Now she just prayed for it to end.
She had been stuck in that hellish darkness for hours, days, possibly weeks.
And she knew she would die there.
She knew he was coming back—the door creaked. It was like a death knell, heralding his arrival. As the door swung open, the ancient hinges protested.
A sob bubbled up in her throat as he laid a hand on her calf and stroked up. She cringed away as much as she could, but the restraints at her wrists, waist, knees, and ankles didn’t allow for much movement.
When he cupped his hand over her sex, her scream, long and desperate, split the air.
Her kidnapper, rapist, and soon-to-be killer watched, amused … pleased with her terror. “Go ahead and scream, sweetheart. Nobody can hear you.”
“Please …” her throat was so dry and raw from how she had cried. How she had begged. How she had pleaded. She almost hated herself, for begging. For giving him that pleasure. Some part of her just wasn’t ready to accept the truth, wasn’t ready to give up.
Even though, in her heart, she knew it was useless. “Just let me go. Please let me go … I won’t tell anybody, I swear.”
He sighed. It was a sigh of long-suffering patience, the one a parent might give a child. He even patted her shoulder as he murmured, “Yes, I’m sure you won’t.”
A loud sound rasped through the air and she whimpered as she recognized it. A zipper. He was getting undressed—no, no, no …
Hysterical panic tore through her and she started to scream.
He raped her again.
Her voice gave out long before she was able to escape inside herself.
This time, though, her escape was final. She had retreated somewhere deep inside herself—somewhere where pain didn’t exist, where terror didn’t exist.
When he ended her life, she never even knew—she was already gone.
Her name was Carly Watson.
It was a lovely day, the kind of day you just didn’t get too often. The air was warm and mild, with clear sunshine beaming down. A soft breeze drifted by. Under the trees, it was just a bit cooler.
The perfect sort of day for a walk.
At least, Lena Riddle would’ve thought so. But halfway through, her dog started getting anxious. Puck didn’t do anxious. Not in the four years she’d had him. But there he was, pulling against his leash, like he was determined not to let her take their normal route through the woods.
“Come on, Puck. You wanted to go for a walk, remember?”
She tried to take another step, but the big yellow retriever sat down. He wasn’t going to move an inch.
Just then, faintly, oh so very faintly, she heard … something.
Puck growled. “Hush,” she murmured, reaching down and resting a hand on his head. He had his hackles up, his entire body braced and tensed. “Easy, boy. Just take it easy.”
Standing in the middle of the trail, with her head cocked, she listened. The faint breeze that had been blowing all day abruptly died and all those faint sounds of life she could always hear in the woods faded down to nothingness. A heartbeat passed, then another.
It was utterly silent.
Then it came again. Something … muffled. Faint. An animal? Trapped?
She scowled absently, concentrating. There it was again.
Her brow puckered as she focused, trying to lock in on the sound better.
Puck whined in his throat and tugged on his leash, demandingly. Lena turned her head, trying to follow that sound. It was gone, though. The breeze returned and all she could hear now were the leaves rustling in the breeze, the sound of a bird call, and somewhere off in the distance, a car’s motor.
Still, the faint memory of that sound, whatever it was, sent a shiver down her spine.
“You know what, Puck?” she murmured. “I think you’re right. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
She only had a few hours left before she had to go to work anyway.
He stood over her, studied her hair.
The gleaming blond strands were shorn now to chin length, perfectly straight, even as could be.
Her eyes, sightless and fixed, stared overhead.
That blank look on her face irritated him, but he wasn’t surprised. He had seen this coming, after all. Something about the way she had reacted, the way she’d screamed.
The life had gone out of his girl and once that fight was gone …
Well. That was just how it was.
Carefully gathering up the hair, he selected what he wanted and then bagged up the rest, adding it to the pack he’d carry out of here. Later. Few things still that he had to handle.
He studied her body, the long slim lines of it, her limbs pale and flaccid now, the softly rounded swell of her belly. Nice, full breasts … he did like a good pair of tits on a woman. The dull gleam of gold at her throat from the necklace she wore. Strong, sleek shoulders.
Stooping down beside her, he hefted her lifeless body in his arms.
What he needed to do now wasn’t going to be pleasant, and he wouldn’t do it here.
“So what do you think it was?”
“Hell, I don’t know.” A sigh slipped past Lena’s lips as she turned to face her best friend. Just talking to Roslyn Jennings made her feel better. And slightly silly. It had probably been nothing. Nothing … although it had bothered her dog something awful. “It sure as hell had Puck freaked out, though.”
“You sound a little freaked out, too.”
“Yeah. You could say that.”
Although, really, freaked out didn’t quite touch it.
Grimacing, Lena forced herself to focus. Should pay more attention to what she was doing or she was going to end up slicing up her fingers as well as the potatoes. It wouldn’t do the Inn’s reputation any good if word got out that the chef was adding body parts to the dishes, she thought morbidly.
For some reason, that thought sent a shiver down her spine.
“It sure doesn’t sound like Puck. I mean, that’s not like him. He loves his walks, right?”
“Yep. He does. And you’re right … this isn’t like him.” She couldn’t recall him ever acting quite like that before. He was a good dog, protective, loving … a friend.
“Let’s talk about this noise you heard. If we can figure out what it was, maybe we can figure out what had Puck so freaked out. It probably had something to do with the noise, right? I mean, it makes sense.”
“I can’t place it. Weird grunting. Kind of muffled.”
“Don’t take this wrong, but do you think maybe you heard somebody going at it?” Roslyn’s voice was a mixture of skepticism and interest.
“Going at it?” Lena asked, blankly. “Going at what?”
For about two seconds, Roz was silent. Then she burst into laughter. “Oh, sweetie, it’s been way too long since you’ve gotten laid. Sex, girl. Do you remember what sex is?”
“Yes. Vaguely.” Scowling, she went at the potatoes with a little more enthusiasm than necessary. Oh, yes, she remembered sex. It had been close to a year since she’d gotten any, and before that? It had been college.
But, yes, she remembered sex.
“So, you think maybe a couple of people were out there screwing? Although, hell, if some guy is going to talk me into stripping nekkid in the great outdoors, it had better be good sex. Bug bites. Ticks. Poison ivy.”
“Sunburn,” Lena offered helpfully. Perpetually pale, she had to slather down with SPF 60 just for a jaunt to the mailbox. Well, maybe not that bad. But still.
“Sunburned hoo-haa. Heh. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? Although if the guy is good … but you were in the woods, right? So scratch the sunburned hoo-haa. So, what do you think … could you have just heard some private moments?”
“You’re a pervert, you know that?” Lena grinned at her best friend. Then she shrugged. “And … I don’t know. I really don’t know. The only thing I know for sure is that Puck didn’t want to be there—that’s just not like him.”
The dog at Lena’s feet shifted. She rinsed her hands and then crouched down in front of him, stroking his head. “It’s okay, pal. I understand.”
He licked her chin and she stood up.
As she turned to wash her hands again, she heard the telltale whisper of the cookie jar. Smiling, she said, “If you eat all of those, you’re out of luck until next week. I am not whipping up another batch tomorrow. You’re stuck with whatever you bought from the store. With that wedding you’ve got planned, Jake and I are going to be busy enough as it is.”
Jake was the other chef here at Running Brook. They split the week, Jake working Monday through Wednesday and Lena working Thursday through Saturday—they traded off on Sundays, but with the wedding they had going on tomorrow, they both needed to be here.
“That wedding,” Roz muttered around a mouthful of cookie. “Hell, that wedding is why I need the cookie—and store-bought isn’t going to hold me right now, sweetie. I need the real stuff. Good stuff. Shit. If I thought I could get away with it, I would have a White Russian or three to go along with the cookie.”
“No drinking on the job. Not even for the owner.” Lena smirked. “Hell, you’re the one who had to go and decide to start doing these boutique weddings. You all but have a welcome mat out … ‘Bridezillas accepted and welcomed.’ ” Shoving off the counter, she joined Roz at the island. “Gimme one of those before you eat them all.”
Roz pushed a cookie into her hand and Lena bit down. Mouth full of macadamias, white chocolate, and cranberries, she made her way to the coffeepot. “Since you can’t have a White Russian, you want some coffee?”
“No.” Roslyn sighed. “The last thing I need right now is coffee. I’m supposed to be meeting the bride and her mom in a half hour to discuss the floral arrangements.”
In the middle of getting a clean mug from the cabinet, Lena frowned. “Discuss the floral arrangements … the wedding is tomorrow.”
“Exactly. Which is why I need cookies.” She huffed out a breath. “Damn. I really do need that White Russian, you know. But I’ll have to settle for the cookies.”
Lena smiled as her friend went for another one. That emergency stash wasn’t going to last the day, much less the weekend. She thought through her schedule and decided she might try to make up another batch. She could probably find the time. It sounded like Roz would probably need it. They were all going to need it, probably.
“Does she want to change the floral arrangements or what?”
Roz groaned. There was a weird thunk, followed by her friend’s muffled voice. “I don’t know. She just wanted to discuss the flowers. She had some concerns.” There were two more thunks.
“Well, banging your head on the counter isn’t going to do much good … unless you hit it hard enough to knock yourself out. Otherwise, all it’s going to do is give you a headache.”
“I’ve already got a headache,” Roz muttered.
“Look, if she does have the idea of changing the arrangements around, explain to her that the florist here closes at noon on Fridays. Somebody will have already made sure the orders are covered, but changing the orders would just be too difficult, and it could be too chancy to try someplace outside of town. If you lay it on thick enough, she’s not going to want to risk it.”
“Hmmm. Good point.” The stool scraped against the tile floor as Roz stood up. “I knew there was a reason I hired you.”
“You hired me for my cookies,” Lena said, her voice dry.
“Another reason, then.” She took a deep breath. “Okay, no more cookies. I’m going to check on a few things before I go talk to my … client.”
“Good luck. But do me a favor … if she decides she needs a last-minute menu change? Stonewall her. I don’t care how, and I don’t care what you say. Stonewall her.”
“This woman can’t be stonewalled.” Roz sighed. “I think she might just be Stonewall. His reincarnation or something. You can’t stonewall a Stonewall, right?”
“Figure a way out.” There was no way she was doing a last-minute menu change.
What People are Saying About This
"Walker has crafted a taut, scary trilogy opener, deftly weaving multiple storylines together for a real nail biter." -Romantic Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If it was the authors intent to get you so invested in all the characters and then leave you hanging until January dying to know what happens next then she succeeded. The end of this book has so many cliffhangers. As this was the first book in the series its a little slow going at first as we get to meet the characters. Actually the first character we get to meet is the killer and his victim. We do not get to find out who the killer is in this book. I dont even have a guess yet as to who the killer is. Lena is the main heroine of this book. She is blind and a chef. She hears a woman screaming in the middle of the night but when she goes to the police they dont believe her. Ezra is our main hero and he is in Ash on leave from the police dept after being shot and finding out his female partner and lover was dirty. He is in the police station when Lena comes in and he decides he is going to help her. Their love story wasnt full of conflict or back on forth - its was a steady flow through out the book. We also meet and get POVs from Remy Jennings who is the DA in Ash (he is the hero in the second book). Then we have Hope (heroine of 2nd book) who comes to Ash at the request of her best friend Law Reilly (who is also Lena's best friend) who is a suspense author (and hero of the 3rd book). Hope was severely abused by her ex husband who is a cop and she is not the most mentally stable person due to this. We do briefly at the end of this book get to meet Nia (the heroine of the 3rd book) IMO - there really isnt a way to talk about this book without giving away the plot points of the book which I think the reader needs to experience for themselves.
My Thoughts: If You Hear Her takes you on a gut wrenching journey into the small town of Ash, Kentucky, where not everything is as it seems. Some time you have to listen to learn the truth. From the moment Ezra sees Lena he is smitten with her. Lena has always known that people stare at her, it is because she different. Lena is blind, but she likes it when Ezra stares at her. When Ezra asks her to dinner she can’t say No. After a wonderful dinner and a smoldering hot kiss, Ezra leaves her but never call as promised. After waiting and waiting Lena is determined to write him off, that is until she hears a scream for help in the middle of the night. With no evidence of someone in need of help in Lena’s woods, the police department is at a standstill, but Lena knows what she heard, and knows someone is in trouble. When strange things start happening around town everyone is on edge. Time is running out and if they don’t find who was in the woods………. I really enjoyed this first installment of the Ash Trilogy and can’t wait to see what happen next. I am hoping that the many questions I have will all be answered over the next two books. If you are looking for a romantic suspense that will leave you wanting more and worried for the residents of Ash, Kentucky. I would highly suggest checking out Shiloh’s new series. Kelly Books-n-Kisses
in Ash, Kentucky, Lena Riddle while walking her dog Puck hears a frightening scream of "help me" from the woods just beyond her house. She calls the cops, but they find nothing in the woods to confirm her assertion that a woman is in trouble. Still she knows how her acute hearing compensates for her being blind and how stoic Puck normally is but he reacted too. Six months ago Kentucky State Police officer Ezra King took a bullet in his leg; he walked away limping from law enforcement as more than just his leg was injured. In Ash, he is attracted to Lena so he decides to insure she is safe by investigating the screams she has reported she has heard in the nearby woods. If You Hear Her is an exciting over the top of the Black Mountain romantic suspense thriller that rotates perspective between a gleeful serial killer and the lead couple. With a cliffhanger ending, the story line contains several subplots that add action, but detract from the prime theme of a heated romance between the cop and the chef while a psychopath continues a nearby killing spree. Harriet Klausner
If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker is an exhilarating start to a pulse pounding series. Lena Riddle is woken up during the night by a faint cry for help in the dark. Lena’s home is surrounded by woods and she can sense an evil that chills her to her bones. When no proof is found by the police Lena’s claims are dismissed. But Lena knows what she heard and is terrified. Ezra King has come to Ash, Kentucky to recoup and reevaluate his life’s work. He is haunted by the death of his partner on the job with the state police. Ezra certainly wasn’t prepared for his reaction to Lena. His first meeting he is drawn to her but is afraid to get close to anyone anymore. Ezra believes Lena’s story and is determined to protect her. Seems there is someone lurking in the woods near Lena and they are getting bolder by the minute. Lena and Ezra slowly begin to fall in love but will the menace in the woods cut that love short? If You Hear Her is a pulse pounding tale of the danger you can only feel but can’t see. You will be drawn into the story and it will keep you in its grip till the end. The story continues in If You See Her, looking forward to watching the mystery unfold.
The latest romantic thriller from author Shiloh Walker begins with a scream, literally and doesn't let up until the end. Set in small town Kentucky, where everyone thinks they know everyone else, Lena Riddle hears a scream echo through the night.Calls to police are worthless as law enforcement can't find any evidence of a crime. But Lena knows what she heard.Her only saving grace is Ezra King, a cop on leave after dealing with his own demons. His cop instinct knows Lena is in danger, his heart's instinct says she is the woman his soul seeks. There is mystery surrounding both characters as they deal with their own issues and pasts that come colliding together in this fast paced page turner. The sleepy town seems too "Mayberry" to ever have anything bad happen, but very bad things do and Ezra must unravel the puzzle. Their hearts fight the attraction they feel for each other and just as they finally start to heal, start to relent to their feelings the killer¿.well, I won't spoil for readers. If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller, laced with romance and tension ¿ this book was written for you!
If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker had the hair standing up on the back of my neck. It's a real nail biter. Ezra and Lena's story is fantastic. The characters are amazing! This well written book is packed from cover to cover with suspense, action, sizzle and a bit of humor. I loved reading If You Hear Her and can't wait for the next book in the trilogy. I'm always happy to read a Shiloh Walker book. If You Hear Her is book 1 in the Ash Trilogy but it can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliffhanger. I'd put this in the happy for now category. haha This book should come with a do not read before bed warning.
Holy goodness. First, I would not advise starting RIGHT before bedtime, because there is some scary dark sh*t here. Had horrible, horrible book-related nightmares that night/morning. Second, if you hate cliffhangers, make sure you have the other two books in hand (library, whatever) before starting this one. While it DOES end in a HFN (happily For Now), there are many loose end to tie up in future books, including some scary perv kidnapping and torturing women. What I loved: Lena, the heroine is blind, and yes, it affects her life, but she is not "disabled," there are simply issues she has to work around. In fact, it wasn't until several chapters in I realized she WAS blind. (That said, there was a reference to her lights being on, that we needed a reason for that - solar lights in case of guests, timers, etc., because obviously a blind woman ain't running around turning on lights when it's dark.) Besides the raping, torturing perv, there is also a theme of domestic violence/gaslighting. If any of these things are triggering for you, you probably won't like this series. This is/was not my usual genre, but had me riveted to the page. Ezra (first time I've ever found a male named Ezra sexy) is semi-disabled physically, due to being shot in the leg during his time as a cop, and now, emotionally. He tries to stay away from Lena, but the attraction is too strong. Condom use/discussion - five stars on this!! The sex is INCREDIBLY hot, and believable in development. The friendships/relationships and development of the B story is wonderful. Also, though it is set in a rural Kentucky town, there isn't catering to stereotypes of small town Southern yokels (though the town doesn't seem to be real integrated, either); some people are dumb, most people are fairly intelligent and empathetic. Will definitely be reading the rest of this trilogy.
I thought it was boring, the sex sucked, and the characters weren't developed.
Great book! When I finished it at first I was disappointed because I didn't think it tied up all the loose ends...instead I was delighted to find there was a sequel, if you see her, that finished what I wanted to know. I read both of these books in one weekend, page turners!
Not much of romantic suspense reader... but if Shiloh Walker puts more out after this series .... I will DEFINITELY be picking it up :)
If You Hear Her is a good story, intriguing plot, and great characters (main and auxilliary). If you like romantic suspense this is a good book. BUT - it is part 1 of 3 -- the romance for the main characters (Ezra and Lena) is resolved but the mystery/bad guy is not. I'd highly suggest already having books 2 (If You See Her) and 3 (If You Know Her) on hand to finish out the story.
I really enjoyed this book 'If You Hear Her'. The main female character Lena Riddle's is blind and yet very strong and self-sufficient. She's amazingly loyal to her friends in hard times and her relationship with the Ezra King (State police on leave) is hot, hot, hot! Shiloh Walker created a great storyline with a creepy serial killer, an injured 'sexy' hero and a strong loving female heroine. I finished reading this book in one setting, staying up late one night, I have since finished the 2nd book (not as good) and I'm just trying to finish the 3rd as quickly as possible to wrap this 'trilogy' up. Overall, this book rocked! Loved it! The 2nd book, not so much. The 3rd? eh.. still working on it. BUT READ THIS ONE and decide on the others.
Shiloh Walker is an absolute favorite of mine. I have a feeling with this new trilogy, a lot more fans are going to be coming out of the woodwork to follow this very talented author. Ezra King has come to Ash, Kentucky to recuperate in both body and spirit. His grandmother left her home to him, so he’s healing amid a bit of grief and nostalgia. He’s been content to piddle around the place – until he meets Lena Riddle. The woman not only shoots lust through his system, but she demands respect and admiration for her determination and love of life. Finally living on her own with no one to tell her how to do it, Lena is happy in every aspect of her life – she’s a chef for the local B&B and she’s surrounded by loving friends. When a man with a sexy voice shows interest in her lasagna, his interest in her piques even further after they share a meal or two together. But then Ezra puts on the brakes, and for a little while is one of those men who says he’ll call but doesn’t. He has his reasons, and once you learn of them you can understand why he’s so hesitant to start up a relationship with this fascinating and beautiful woman. Lena tries to forget the man, even when they run into each other in town, but after so many meetings and too much temptation, Ezra gives in and pursues Lena into a wonderful blossoming relationship. What brings them together finally is the scream Lena hears one night outside her home at the edge of the forest. The only people who believe her are Ezra and Law, one of Lena’s best friends, and the local sheriff. But on investigation, no evidence is found of anything untoward. Lena can’t let it rest, however, and makes a trip to the sheriff’s office, where Ezra is making his own unrelated complaint. While the deputy helping Lena doesn’t believe a word she says, it’s Ezra who gets things moving to further investigate the matter, but everyone is baffled at the lack of evidence. The reader knows exactly what’s happening, though, and sees what an evil villain lives and breathes in these pages. What he does to the women he kidnaps slowly weakens and breaks them until they’re praying to die. It’s his latest victim who Lena hears from her bedroom this fateful night that changes life for all concerned – including our villain. And from this point on, you are immersed so deeply in both the romance between Ezra and Lena and the deceptive and evil mind of a madman whose identity is kept from you the entire book. And the second book. You won’t know who it turns out to be until the last book. Talk about tension! I love Ezra and Lena. Their romance is swift and sure. Ezra turns into the typical alpha cop he is when danger is unveiled around them and their friends. Lena is a sassy, smart, and independent woman, but she knows when to let go and do as she’s asked so everyone survives whatever situation is going on at the moment. Their lovemaking is vintage Shiloh Walker – steamy, intense, and loving. We also meet Remy and Hope, who are featured in the next book, and you love them on sight just as much as you do Ezra and Lena. Pins and needles having nothing on this storyline. Tenterhooks is more apropos for all the goings-on, especially the suspenseful aspects of the story. If you’re ready for an edge-of-your-seat read that you can’t put down until it’s read, this is it. And do be sure to read this trilogy in order. They’re tied too closely together and left open ended to start in the middle or, heaven forbid, with the
The romance is sweet and hot! The suspense had me on the edge of my seat thru the whole book, I couldn't put it down because I needed to figure out who the bad guy was. The hero is hot and his lady is not a simpering miss which I love to see. Definitely a must read!
The summary provided pretty much sets up the storyline - but there are some pretty specific drawbacks. First, it is clearly the first book in a trilogy. It spends a gret deal of time setting up all the nuances that I'm sure will be dealt with in later books. But, because of this, the story itself suffers. Overall, I felt like I read more of a 'frame' than a complete story. Secondly, the end really is 'to be continued...' - which I personally Hate! There is absolutely no way for this book to be stand-alone, which makes me feel like I was duped. "Hey, you've got to buy the next one to find out what happens!" Decent read and interesting characters (hence the three stars), but don't know that I'm overly impressed.
This is a good mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the the entire book. Just when you think you have it figured out the story changes and so does your perception. I don't know how I feel about the ending, it was not neat and tidy. I assume the second book in the series is going to literally pick up pretty much where this book left off. There were many unanswered questions that left me guessing, but at the same time wanting to read the next book right away. In other trilogies you can get away with reading the books out of order, not so in this series. Definitely start with Book one.