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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dee Henderson: Taken

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

An investigator who knows tragic loss firsthand, and his new client, missing far too long...

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She might have enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator Matthew Dane, a former cop, to help her navigate her reentry into society, he quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn't mean her troubles are over. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they'll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon's life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her--even if it means stirring up a hornet's nest of secrets.

My Thoughts: 

When I think of romantic suspense, I think of Dee Henderson. She was the first author I was ever read who combined my love of mysteries and Christian fiction into one genre. I discovered her O’Malley series when I was working at a local Christian bookstore (they allowed us to check out the books on the shelf—great gig!), and that and her Uncommon Heroes series really set my personal standard for romantic suspense. But recent books haven't hit the same mark for me, and sadly, that includes Taken.


Characters ultimately make or break a novel for me. In Taken, Shannon Bliss was the abductee, but Matthew Dane, a forty-two-year-old father of an abducted child, was the only point-of-view character. And all the while I was reading, that was a problem for me: I kept wondering, "Why is Matthew the one telling this story? It is not his story; it’s Shannon’s." The book would have been much stronger for me if I'd been allowed inside Shannon's point-of-view, to see her hurts and fears from the inside-out (Henderson's previous abduction-survivor story, Danger in the Shadows, did this really well). Instead, having the story delivered to me from only Matthew’s perspective, I felt distanced from the actual abduction and the pain Shannon felt.

Henderson’s writing did allow me to fully grasp the action. The scenes flowed smoothly, allowing me to follow the unfolding story of Shannon’s abduction. The dialogue sounded natural, reflecting each character, and as evidenced in Matthew’s manners, Henderson clearly did her research when it comes to gaining the trust of an abducted victim. And the book started off strong, promising lots of layers and drama, but it ultimately felt slow and didn't fully hold my interest. It just didn't have the same page-turning, can't-put-it-down excitement than I've loved about many of Henderson's previous books. All the conflict in Taken felt like it happened before the book started. I kept waiting for some terrible trouble to befall Shannon, but in the end, I never once felt truly scared for her. Another problem I had was that, for a romantic suspense novel, there wasn't a lot of romantic tension. The relationship between Shannon and Matthew reminded me more of a father-daughter relationship, especially the way Matthew kept referring to his past experience with his own daughter's abduction. That made the romance thread of this story a bit awkward for me.

The spiritual message in this book also felt a bit too heavy-handed. When Shannon and Matthew talked about God, it felt quite preachy, and while Shannon's concept of God might be pretty interesting to believers, I'm not sure I can recommend this one to my non-Christian family and friends. But there was no questionable content in this story, and I would recommend it to Christian readers of all ages.

Overall, readers who are brand new to Dee Henderson might find a lot to enjoy about Taken, but fans of her earlier series may feel, as I did, that the storytelling just isn't as mysterious, fast-moving, and exciting as it used to be. With the wrong person telling the story, an awkward romantic thread, and the central conflict actually happening before the story even began, I was sadly disappointed with Taken.

I received a complimentary copy of Taken from Bethany House and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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