Taken

TakenTaken by Dee Henderson
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Bethany House on April 28, 2015
Pages: 432
Also by this author: Full Disclosure, Sins of the Past

 

Shannon Bliss has been away from her family for a long time…11 years to be exact. Abducted at the young age of 16, Shannon has seen and lived through things in her lifetime that no young person should ever have to experience. Freedom comes at a cost, and she needs just the right person to help her navigate her way back in to the real world.

Those familiar with Henderson’s work will be happy to find this newest novel does not disappoint!

Matthew Dane used to be a police officer until his daughter was kidnapped, and eventually returned. Now he spends his days as a private investigator helping others that find themselves in similar situations. One night he finds a strange woman sitting on his hotel doorstep, and so begins the adventure with Shannon.

While Taken appears to be a stand-alone novel, many of the characters are familiar from recent Henderson books. Character knowledge from Undetected, Unspoken, and Full Disclosure are not totally necessary when reading this new book, but some background information is definitely helpful. I enjoyed catching up with past character favorites, watching them interact with new people and seeing where their lives have led them since we last met.

New readers will find her fast paced writing is exactly what this suspense novel calls for, anything less would leave you longing for more.

Those familiar with Henderson’s work will be happy to find this newest novel does not disappoint! Full of excitement, adventure, and intrigue, Taken has everything Henderson fans have come to expect from her. Well-developed characters have a way of inviting and introducing old friends in to the story-line, as if they have always existed together. Chapters are smoothly put together, carefully linking the pages and drawing the reader in throughout the journey.

New readers will find her fast paced writing is exactly what this suspense novel calls for, anything less would leave you longing for more. A roller coaster ride of emotions, Henderson carefully plays out each and every story with diligent research and sensitivity when required. With a wide variety of topics covered, I can only imagine the research that went in to this novel!

Henderson is a widely popular Christian Fiction author, and many readers eagerly anticipate each and every one of her new releases.

While I would like to see Taken linked up as a series with the 3 previously mentioned titles, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to others! Henderson is a widely popular Christian Fiction author, and many readers eagerly anticipate each and every one of her new releases. I’ve been speculating as to whether her next book will continue with these same characters, and I like to think it will (after all, look how many books were in the O’Malley series!). But if for some reason this is the end, I’m okay with that, the ending was nicely wrapped up by the end of the book. So do yourself a favor, and put this title on your must read list!

–Shondra


Matthew Dane went through every parents’ nightmare when his eight-year-old daughter disappeared. He never gave up the search and she was rescued eight years later – and now another young woman, Shannon Bliss, is seeking his help. Her abduction however is a lot more complicated than most and Matthew must draw on all his reserves of courage, compassion and faith to help bring Shannon a sense of closure and peace.

Despite the magnitude of what happened to Shannon the relaxed pace meant that there didn’t seem to be too much at stake for this character.

I named Taken as my most anticipated new release of 2015, since I always get excited when Dee Henderson releases a new book. Unfortunately I found the last few titles she’s written to be not as gripping as her acclaimed O’Malley series, which I loved – and maybe they’re not meant to, for how do you follow up such a stellar series? – but they have still been enjoyable, engaging reads. I regret to say though that I struggled to read Taken and didn’t enjoy it was much as I hoped.

There was a surprising lack of conflict within the story. It follows Shannon’s journey of returning to normal life, while bringing those responsible into custody. However this plot meandered along for me, and despite the magnitude of what happened to Shannon the relaxed pace meant that there didn’t seem to be too much at stake for this character.

I like the romance in the story… It wasn’t an instant attraction or Shannon being drawn to him from fear. It was a gradual trust built up between them

Rather than a story full of mystery and tension, Taken seems to be focusing on the personal journey of Shannon to normalcy, plus the way that Matthew manages this second trip into post-abduction stress and fear. My trouble with this novel perhaps is because it is a digression from what I’ve come to expect from Dee Henderson – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Dee Henderson has taken a different approach to this novel – it’s less suspense and more psychological in its narrative.

Taken includes characters from some of Dee Henderson’s earlier books: Full Disclosure, Unspoken, and even a subtle reference to a couple from her acclaimed O’Malleys series. While I like that the stories of these people overlap with one another without any need to read her books in a particular order, I found that Shannon and Matthew are very similar in many ways to the couples in Full Disclosure and Unspoken. Shannon, like Ann Silver and Charlotte Graham before her, is a composed, direct and talented woman who has been to hell and back. Their natures are commendable for they are not passive damsels in distress, which they easily could have become, but I struggled with Shannon’s forthrightness. It’s clear that Matthew would do anything for her (which is a good thing), but I wonder if Shannon is too assuming of Matthew’s help. It seemed that everything she decided to do – from driving across the country to how they spent an afternoon – was catered for. Maybe this is just my ignorance – this could be the way that victims are handled or simply how they can cope. But I guess I expected her to be a little bit more withdrawn – perhaps if she was simply less presumptuous about what Matthew would do for her? I don’t know. At the risk of sounding anti-feminist, maybe it’s because it seems unnatural for the man to be directed by a woman. And she was very knowledgeable about all the aspects of detective and police work (procedures of finger prints, etc), which I wondered how she knew about such things. It did come across as a little unrealistic.

I’m at a risk of sounding too harsh here. Putting critique aside, I did like Shannon and Matthew as characters, particularly Shannon – she has a talent and a passion and yet a vulnerability about her. I like the romance in the story as well, as it is handled a little differently. I did wonder at one point whether Shannon and Matthew would actually get together – after all, he is quite a bit older than her – but I like how they fit together very well as a couple. It wasn’t an instant attraction or Shannon being drawn to him from fear. It was a gradual trust built up between them and they became comfortable friends before moving on.

So, to conclude: if you’re a fan of Dee Henderson, you may be disappointed if you’re expecting the same fast-paced, suspenseful fiction that she has delivered before. She has taken a different approach to this novel – it’s less suspenseful and more psychological in its narrative. It’s a story that I struggled to get into, but I still encourage readers to give it a go. This change to her writing might be just what others are looking for.

-Christel

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