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 has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.
When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn't mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there's the fact that Shannon's escape involved faking her own death. 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.
I'm a long-time Dee Henderson fan. I read and loved the O’Malley series, the Uncommon Heroes series (even better than the O’Malleys), and her two single titles. There was then a long wait for her next novel, Full Disclosure, and I can only describe my reaction to it as overwhelmingly disappointing.
But I was loyal enough to read her next novel, Unspoken, despite the fact it was a sequel to Full Disclosure, and that it dealt with an uncomfortable subject (abduction). It was better, but was exclusively written from the hero’s point of view—and he was best described as too good to be true (I’m looking for romantic suspense, not romantic fantasy). Undetected was better still, with more of a focus on external suspense.
Taken is more in the style of Unspoken, in that it deals with another freed victim of abduction (as did Danger in the Shadows … I’m hoping there’s no significance in this pattern). It’s written in third person, mostly from Matthew’s point of view, which means we are spared Shannon’s difficult memories but still get to see the emotional impact they have on her and those around her. Matthew is another almost too-good-to-be-true character: honest, faithful, patient, and a strong Christian despite the trials he’s been through in his own life.
At the same time, there is a clear suspense plot to Taken, as Shannon slowly reveals parts of her past to Matthew, and he collaborates with characters from Full Disclosure and Unspoken to reintroduce Shannon to her family, discover who was behind her original kidnapping, and bring the Jacoby family to justice—without putting Shannon in danger. Throughout it all, it's clear Shannon's not a victim of abduction: she's a survivor, and there is a difference.
One of the unanswered questions from Unspoken was, for me, a satisfactory answer to the age-old question: where is God when bad things happen to good people? Shannon has a well-thought response to this which is true to her character, and shows a depth of understanding of God’s nature not found in many people (fictional or real-life). This, to me, was one of the strengths of the novel: that it addressed the question without seeming preachy or unrealistic.
I did find the characters—especially Matthew—were too close to perfect, and everyone in Henderson’s fictional world has endless financial resources, which also has an unrealistic feel. The writing was a little off at times (too much dialogue was tagged as “mentioned,” which I think of as making the dialogue less important which it wasn’t).
But the plot was a good balance between the internal journey and external suspense, and the pacing was excellent—I didn't want to put it down. It's taken a while, but I think Dee Henderson has now found her stride with this new longer-length series. It's got less romance than her earlier books, and perhaps even a little less suspense. But it's a fast-paced and thought-provoking read.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
About Iola Goulton
I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services
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I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).