The Hurt Handler by Linda Palmer

The Hurt Handler by Linda Palmer
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (91 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Shiloh Nilsen lives at one end of the street. Nathan Conti lives at the other. In all her eighteen years, they’ve never met in the middle. Why? Because he attends a special school for psychics in Wyoming while she goes to their neighborhood public school, Dillon High, right there in Montana.

Nothing changes until Shiloh loses a treasured family heirloom–a ring that dates back centuries. Desperate to find it before her mom figures out it’s missing, Shiloh crashes a birthday party just to meet Nate. If the local newspaper is right, he has psychic gifts. She hopes one of them will help her out of a mess she can only blame on herself.

Nate reluctantly agrees to accompany her to a local ghost town, the last place she wore the ring. With the weather getting worse by the minute, they search everywhere she hiked until the skies open up and they’re forced to take shelter in the ruins. Huddled there, they talk about his psychic abilities, a conversation that opens Shiloh’s mind to what’s really out there.

Unfortunately, Nate’s conclusion about the ring’s location isn’t at all what Shiloh was expecting. Instead of getting closure, she’s faced with a new dilemma. She can either confess everything to her mom, who will be crushed, or she can confront the person who has the ring, a guy who, according to Nate, gives off some very bad vibes.

Shiloh decides to crash a birthday party, determined to talk Nate into using his powers to help her out. Having lost her great-great-great grandmother’s ring, she needs to take Nate to Farlin – even with the ghosts there – and have him help her find the ring. Nate and Shiloh both find each other attractive, but their worlds couldn’t be further apart. Shiloh is from the wrong side of town, Nate’s family is rich and he’s just graduated from an expensive academy geared towards people with magical gifts. The more time they spend together, the more complicated their relationship gets. Can they each find their right path?

This is a fun and really interesting story. I’ve not read any of the previous ones in this series and was very happy to find none of the back-story was really needed. Both Nate and Shiloh are fairly young – nineteen and seventeen respectively – and so while there is some romance it’s all fairly sweet and teenager-ish – friends who are attracted to each other etc. Aside from some chaste (and just a few teen-steamy) kisses there’s no physical romance, but a delightful emotional connection that flourishes into an even better romantic relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed the plot in this story – finding the mystery of Shiloh’s lost ring as compelling as Shiloh and Nate both exploring their own powers and coming to terms with the magical world neither of them have much experience in. In a number of ways this felt very much to me like a coming-of-age story and I’d actually recommend it equally as a YA style of story as a sweet, emotional and slightly romantic read for grown ups as well. With strong and multi-layered characters, a few excellent plots and some fantastic pacing I eagerly drank up every page of this story and fully plan to look out for the others in this series. Shiloh and Nate were two wonderful characters and I loved watching them get to know each other, push each other’s magical boundaries and solve the puzzle together. The fact they ended up with a Happy Ever After and a beautiful relationship was just icing on the cake.

For a sweet, happy and well-paced story this is one I’d happily recommend.

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