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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.
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Dee Henderson
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2015 Dee Henderson
All rights reserved.
Matthew Dane collected change from his pocket as the elevator settled into place on the sixth floor of the Bismarck Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. The doors slid open to a quiet hallway. Most attendees at the conference were still in sessions on the main level. He stopped in the vending area and bought a cold soda.
He felt satisfied with how his presentation—Best Practices in the Dialog Between the Police and Victim Families—had gone. He thought his opening section had been too long, as most at this national law-enforcement symposium had heard him speak before and didn't need the background, but the overhead slides designed to lighten the tone had gotten spontaneous laughter from the audience. He'd made his points without beating anyone over the head with his advice. Now that his part was over, he could relax and enjoy the last two days as an attendee.
Married friends had invited him to join them for a late dinner. Inevitably, they would also invite a woman to make up the numbers. His friends were predictable that way. He'd need to spend part of the evening putting whoever she was at ease. He'd deal with the situation with some grace—he just hoped she already knew his life story so he didn't have to tell it again over a meal. His wife, Jessica, had died young. He'd get married again—he knew Jessica would want him to—and he thought about it occasionally. But he'd be forty-two this year, and his life already had enough open chapters.
A young woman was sitting on the floor in the hallway outside his hotel room. She didn't rise when he drew near, just looked up at him. She looked ... tired. And mildly curious. Her white shorts showed off long tanned legs, and the sandals revealed dainty feet with painted toenails. The contrasting pink top was remarkably sedate, blousy, and pretty The look suited her and reminded him of his daughter. For that reason more than any other he simply offered a casual, "Looking for me?"
She opened an envelope, pulled out a newspaper clipping, and held it up. "Is this you?"
He accepted what she offered. The newspaper article with accompanying photo was old, well-worn, and crumbling at the fold. From the Boston Globe, he thought, recognizing the photo and knowing the date it had been taken. He was holding his daughter, her head lowered under the hood of a police sweatshirt, walking with her down the police station's steps. She had just turned sixteen—shy, scared, gangly, and thin. The photo had been snapped late on the day of her rescue as he was taking her home. It'd been the best day of his life since her disappearance when she was eight years old. "My daughter and I," he confirmed.
That image had captured the start for the two of them of a journey that had pushed them together into a father-daughter relationship that was to this day still hard to explain. Becky had been, in alternating waves, suicidal and angry, terrified and manic, overjoyed with freedom, so determined to rebuild her life and push away what had happened in those missing eight years. He'd been there for his daughter, getting her through those years and beyond to something now remarkably healthy, happy, and if not whole, at least wise and wonderful and able to deal with the past in a sane way when others brought it up.
"She's finishing her first year in college," he mentioned, smiling as he said it, remembering Becky as she had been this last weekend, straddling a stool in the kitchen of their Boston home on a flying visit home from college to grab more clothes and different posters, munching on a carrot and arguing the fact he just had to get a haircut and please, please, please could he remember to lose the old leather jacket before he came to meet her new roommate's family? They already thought he was a Spenser-type tough guy with credentials as a licensed private investigator. Introducing himself as a retired cop would be okay, but a PI implied he liked to snoop.
He'd laughed at her request and fed her clam chowder that night, promising to be on his best behavior when he met the roommate's family, pleased that his daughter was moving from a single room to a double and acquiring a roommate. He had in fact done a bit of snooping. He knew more about her new roommate than the girl's parents probably did, and concluded his daughter would be safe with her. The roommate loved to party and be out and about town, but she refused to drink or do drugs and was exclusive in her relationship with her boyfriend. She was the extrovert to his daughter's more reserved nature and, Matthew thought, a very nice girl. One of the reasons he'd agreed to come speak at this Atlanta conference as a last-minute replacement was because his daughter had truly now settled at college, with plans to stay on campus to take summer classes.
Matthew took a final look at the article and photo, then refolded it. He wondered why this woman would have such an old clipping. He offered it back to her.
"Can I show you something else?"
She pulled another clipping from the envelope. Tired of towering over her, he hunkered down beside her, one arm resting casually on his knee, drink in hand. He took the second clipping. A missing-person case out of Chicago, picked up by the Associated Press, this also from the Boston Globe. Shannon Bliss, age sixteen, missing along with her car; she had not arrived home after visiting friends over the three-day Memorial Day weekend. A reward of twenty-five thousand was offered for information. The photo looked like it'd come from a high school yearbook. A pretty girl, he thought. He looked at the date on the clipping ... this had happened eleven years ago. He studied the woman who had offered it. He could see a good resemblance.
He didn't work many missing-person cases anymore. Becky had asked him to give those up for a few years, to consider going back to being a cop working robberies, or teaching at the police academy—and let his company, Dane Investigations, be run by his staff, at least the day-to-day. A missing sister could explain why this woman had sought him out, and he did know some people in Chicago who might be able to help her. A few of them were at this conference, and he could make some calls and introductions on her behalf. "Your sister?" he asked.
"That's me." Silence lingered after her quiet words. "I'd like to go home," she whispered.
He watched her knuckles turn white where she gripped the envelope, her other hand flexed against the carpet. Her eyes averted from his to stare down the empty hall. A stillness settled into his muscles. "Did you run away?"
She was quiet for so long he wasn't sure she would answer.
"No." More a breath than a word, but he heard it.
He felt his heart begin to crack on her behalf. The nuances mattered now, seeing them, hearing them, and he didn't have history with this woman to fall back on to help him understand her. "What name do you go by now?"
"Have you spoken with the police?"
She shook her head swiftly. He didn't let himself show a reaction to that news, just absorbed it. There were things his job had taught him, experiences with his daughter, an awareness that came from so many he had talked with over the last decade, and it all coalesced and settled in his mind. He couldn't afford to project or assume the wrong thing here. The odds she was in fact Shannon Bliss were small, but they were real enough to pursue. She looked as though she was telling him the truth as she knew it. God, help me. The quiet prayer went straight to his Father, and he took a deep breath, let it flow out. A hallway wasn't the place for this conversation, but a pause would give her time to change her mind about talking with him, so he stayed where he was. There were things he had to know simply not to hurt her further, and he chose his next words with extreme care. "Eleven years is a long time. When did ...?"
Her hand settled very lightly, very carefully, on his arm as she shook her head. "Please don't ask."
Her gaze shifted back to hold his. He could literally see an enforced poise reasserting itself, see the strength of will it took on her part to slide that calm back in place. It would make his job particularly hard, having her choose silence rather than spill out the details of what had occurred in an emotional wave—he needed that story. But she was coping, and she was giving him the first parameters that defined how she was coping. He had to respect that.
She's learned to hide. The thought settled deep into his consciousness with such a profound certainty that he suspected it had actually been God's comment to him. It rang true. What he was seeing was the image she wanted him to see, all of it deliberate, down to the painted toenails and the cute sandals. Something eased inside him as he realized that about her. He was seeing her internal strength. She'd need that, however this ultimately unfolded. "Come inside," he said, standing, "and let me make a few calls, push off a dinner meeting I was supposed to be at tonight. Or would you prefer to meet me at the restaurant downstairs? We can ask for a private table—"
"I'd rather not go downstairs."
His eyes narrowed at her quick response. Someone in the hotel she was worried about? He used his card to open the room door behind her, then stepped back from her in the hall. He didn't offer a hand to help her rise. His daughter had taught him a few things. She rose gracefully.
Probably five-foot-seven or -eight, he guessed. She looked healthy—her eyes were clear, her skin evenly tanned, the bones in her arms and legs not overtly visible as a sign she was too thin. If anything, the muscle tone in her arms and legs suggested she was a pretty good athlete. There were small scars under that tan—on the side of her leg, her knee, on her forearm, the back of her wrist, mirroring some of his own from years of activity on the water fishing, boating, hauling ropes, running on the beach, and climbing over piles of boulders that dotted the Massachusetts shoreline between stretches of open sand. The fact there were not more visible scars, especially around her wrists and ankles, was a small sliver of good news.
She glanced around his hotel room. It was a pleasant if impersonal room divided into two parts: a seating area with a two-person couch, barrel chair, and small desk with a straight-back chair set across from a television, which could angle any direction in the room. His suitcase lay open on the second bed. Revised drafts of the conference talk were spread across the desk.
"Do you have a pocketknife with you?" she asked.
There was one on his key chain. He dug out his keys and slipped the knife free, offered it. She used a clean napkin from the beverage tray to wipe the knife blade, then pricked her finger and used another napkin to pressure the bleeding to stop. She folded that napkin over, offered it to him along with the pocketknife. "A DNA test will be necessary to prove who I am. Fingerprints. What should I use for those?"
He picked up two sheets of paper from the desk and the mug on the table, moved into the bathroom. He dumped the cold coffee he hadn't finished that morning across a piece of paper held over the sink and shook off most of the liquid. He put the page on the counter, along with the other blank piece of paper. "Spread out your hands and press down on the wet page, then lift them and press down again on the clean sheet."
She did as he said and then afterward rinsed her hands in the sink and took the hand towel he held out to her. Fingerprints showed on both pages and began to air-dry. Between the two sheets, there were enough ridge details present to generate a set of solid prints. They stepped back into the room.
"May I take a photo?" he asked.
She glanced toward the mirror over the dresser, and he could almost see her mental debate with herself over how her hair looked and what about no makeup. He couldn't help but smile. "The software actually makes the age-progression match easier without makeup."
"Take your photo."
He made it fast and painless for her, pulling the phone out of his pocket and snapping off a series of photos in the next seconds. He showed her the images. "Which do you prefer?"
He deleted the others. "You came to find me because of my daughter."
"Any particular reason other than that I've been down this road before?"
"What do you mean?"
"Were you in Boston?"
She gave a small smile and simply dodged the question. "No comment."
"That article makes you twenty-seven. When's your birthday?"
"May the eighth."
"Yeah? Mine's the tenth. Happy belated birthday." He picked up the pages, the one doused in coffee now beginning to curl as it dried, slid them into a folder, and carefully folded the napkin and slid it into his pocket. "I'm going to go down and use the business center to fax your prints to a friend, who can access the missing-persons registry database. Find the room service menu and order us something to eat—steak and potato for me, anything you like for yourself. Find something you'd like to watch on TV I may be half an hour or more. I'll make calls and cancel evening plans while they're working on this."
"You're going to leave me here with your laptop, your belongings?"
"Shannon ... you and I are going to have to start trusting each other sometime. It might as well be now."
* * *
"Ann." Matthew caught the woman he hoped to find coming out of a session with the title FBI Joint Jurisdiction Investigations printed on a placard by the door. He knew her husband had been part of the panel answering questions.
"Hi, Matthew." She stepped out of the flow of departing conferees so they could have a conversation.
"Can you pull a cold case for me from Chicago and give me a good summary look at it tonight?" She had retired as a cop when she married, but her contacts in Chicago and across the Midwest still went deeper than most.
His tone caught her attention as much as the request had, and her gaze sharpened with interest. "What case?"
"Shannon Bliss, age sixteen, who went missing over a Memorial Day weekend." He gave her the date of the disappearance.
"Theo should have it; he catches most cold missing-person cases. I'll make some calls."
He wrote a direct number on the back of a business card. "I'm up late on this one."
She tucked away the card. "Give me three hours. I'll call when I've got details for you."
And with that answer, that smile, he was reminded of a lot of good evenings shared with her. "Remind me sometime why I let Paul snag you first."
She laughed. "Only Paul has the temperament to put up with me."
"You two staying through the weekend?"
"We're heading back to Chicago after the first session tomorrow."
"I may need a conversation with Paul also."
"I'll give him a heads-up." She still didn't ask what this was about. The woman knew how to keep a secret and respect when details were not being shared. But she did tilt her head to ask, "Is this going to be interesting enough that I won't regret skipping dinner to turn around your request in just a few hours?"
He knew the odds that the woman upstairs was Shannon Bliss were small, but he went with what his gut said. "You won't regret it." They were in the way of people coming in and out of the room, and he stepped away with a catch-you-later smile, only to have her reach out a hand. He paused.
Her curiosity had turned to sharp focus. "Matthew ... you do recognize the surname, don't you? The brother, Jeffery Bliss, is running for governor."
"I'm not one to follow Illinois elections. A one-percent-of-the-vote kind of candidate, or is he likely to win?"
"I'm voting for him," she answered mildly.
He buried a wince. "I almost wish you hadn't told me that. Tear apart as much of the case as you can tonight. Call me. I'll come to you."
"You'll hear from me in a couple of hours."
Matthew headed back to the lobby. She'd get him the case info he needed. He had an idea of who could help move the next boulder he had to shift. Now, if he could just locate the man in this crowd ... He thought a moment and turned toward the hotel bar.
Excerpted from Taken by Dee Henderson. Copyright © 2015 Dee Henderson. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is another great book by Dee Henderson. I have to admit that the way the story flowed in this novel was not what I expected. I’m used to Dee’s books having a lot of suspense and danger for the main characters. That said I also have to state the fact that I loved this book as much as her others. There were a lot of twists and surprises throughout the story. I never really knew what to expect to have happen or to be revealed. I did know all along that I was not going to be able to give up on the story. I needed to follow it through to the conclusion. Shannon Bliss and Matthew Dane are the main characters and they are both incredibly well developed. I really enjoyed the way that they are presented in layers as the story progresses. Some books with well developed characters they are just put before you and their personality and characteristics are dumped on you right at the beginning and the rest of the story you see how they deal with what comes. I find it much more realistic to meet someone and then as time passes to learn a little more about them through each scene and each interaction with them. This is how Dee has chosen to develop these wonderful characters. The other thing that I really enjoy about Dee’s books is the fact that many of her characters from previous books make an appearance. They keep showing up and using what they learned from the book centered on them to help the new characters in the new book. I find this to be a delightful way to keep up with their lives. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
Shannon Bliss has finally escaped from the people who took her so many years ago. She has been giving clues to Matthew Dane, head of Dane Investigations. Matthew's daughter was taken and he did everything in his power to get her back. He was able to get her back, but the cost was high. The aftermath was a long road to recovery, but they made it. His daughter is now a normal college girl. Shannon know this history and trusts Matthew to take care of her as she has escaped from her kidnappers, and there is a trail of missing children that Shannon is releasing to Matthew so families will have closure. Shannon shows up in the hallway of a hotel where Matthew was a speaker at a conference. The story takes off from there on a trial of twists and turns. Along the way, Henderson has cameo appearances of characters from previous books. I love this, it feels like these characters continue to live along with me. Henderson's raw honesty of struggles with faith shows up in this book as well. Shannon shows how people can hang on to God when your seemingly perfect world, turns upside down and inside out in just a moment of time. I love how Shannon explains things to Matthew as she tells him she is like a catcus. "I am a cactus, Matthew. Not an orchid. They're beautiful, but they can't handle heat or a tough environment. The circumstances throughout my life have made me who I am. I can plan. Strategize. Think across long periods of time. Put me in a room with those who hate God, and I can still thrive. God has made me into a tough, battle-hardened believer. I am very grateful to have those eleven years behind me. But I used them. I chose to survive with my faith intact. I chose to come out strong and together. I endured, and now I'm going to thrive. I don't expect life to be easy. I do expect God to be there with me." This is why I love Henderson as a writer. She is honest about how we struggle with faith. Her characters will struggle and yet hold on to their love for God. This helps me to dig deeper in my faith. I wonder if I can do the same has Shannon and choose to survive the tough times I have. Or do I simply give up because things do not seem to go my way? This is for me to work out with God. I am grateful there are people that make me think about my faith and how it needs to be stronger. This book will challenge you in your faith. It will push you to take a look at how you live, and hopefully push you to reach out for the only one who can help you endure the hard things in life and thrive. This is a relationship with Jesus Christ. My thanks to Bethany House publishers and Netgalley for the ebook to read and review.
Love all Dee's books - this was excellent also - can't wait to see whats next
What I like about Dee Henderson's writing is that you really feel like you are there. The flow is very good and she knows when to change from scene to scene very well. The story was a good Christian type story in the sense that your teenager could read without your worry.It does show that Christians can make decisions that do not muddy their lives when following the Lord's mandate. I would have like a little more mystery woven around her family and added suspense,since this is the type book it is. The main character's progress through her trial may have been a little too progressive too fast, but some of it was based on her own personality and the personal time in taking photos and traveling as opposed to being kept somewhere in seclusion. I enjoyed reading it very much and this was the second one of hers I have read so far.I look forward to more of this talented writer.
Spell Bounding. Continuous wonder what will happen next. Very enjoyable. I love Dee Henderson
Love all Dee Henderson books....this one was excellent with a new twist!!!!
THIS WAS SOOOOOOOOOOO BAD I COULD NOT EVEN FINISH IT?
Shannon Bliss has finally escaped and has found the one man, Matthew Dane, whom she feels she can trust. She has a mind of her own and a list of things she wants to accomplish on her time schedule. She is willing to release certain facts based on the time frame she has. Will Matthew be willing to accommodate her? Matthew Dane has been down this road before and knows this is why Shannon has chosen him for help. Can he handle going through this again? What all is Shannon hiding and is she coping as well as she acts. Matthew is a retired cop turned private detective. He is very secure role as father and friend. While trying to find the mystery behind Shannon's disappearance and keeping her trust, some unexpected feelings develop. Will they be able to find out who is behind it all or is it just to much to bear. Will Matthew be able to keep Shannon safe until the proper arrest have been made? Dee Henderson has a wonderful way of keeping you on the edge of your seat, while unfolding a suspenseful mystery. I truly enjoyed reading this novel. I love the way her characters are developed and the way they all work together. I was given a copy of this book from Net Galley for my honest opinion.
My Take: If your looking for a different spin on a usual Romantic Suspense book look no further than Taken. Taken is a different book because it reveals what happens when someone who's been missing reappears after 11 years, and the process of what they have to go through to get their life back. There were several things I liked about this book. I like that Shannon's faith remain strong despite her ordeal and I really enjoyed the conversations she had with Matthew about faith. I enjoyed the developing friendship/romance between Matthew and Shannon. The plotline dealing with bringing Shannon's abductors to justice was interesting. I like that Shannon was portrayed as a survivor. Impacted by her kidnapping but not crippled by it. I like that characters from Dee's other books were in this one. I liked Matthews prayer before one of the meals towards the end of the book it has to be one of my favorite book prayers ever! Lol! It's a good book but there were a few things that kept me from loving it. The story is mostly from Matthew's point of view, and we never see/hear the story from Shannon's point of view. When I'm reading a book, especially a romance. I like hearing the female characters thoughts/voice because it helps me to better connect with both characters and the story. The plotline is more about uncovering past secrets than solving a present problem. I didn't mind too much because the story was interesting anyway but the back of the book portrays that there is action involved. I wish there would've been a bit more of what was in the diary. All in all I like this book, it's a little more on the relaxing side but that's nice every once and a while. If you haven't read any of Dee Hendersons recent books you might be slightly confused at certain parts in this story. Favorite Quotes: "God decided to create a world where free will was more important than no one ever getting hurt. There must be something stunningly beautiful and remarkable about free will that only God can truly grasp, because God hates, literally abhors, evil, yet he created a world where evil could happen if people chose it. God sees something in free will and choice that's worth tolerating the horrifying blackness that would appear if evil was chosen rather than good. I find that utterly remarkable." Jeremiah 5:22 Do you not fear me? Says the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it. "The ocean is vast. Big. Powerful. It's free. I love that. And it's contained where it belongs by God. I love the ocean for what it is, and for what it tells me about my God." * I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my honest review.
Loved this book!
Riveting suspense from Dee Henderson It's been quite awhile since I've read a Dee Henderson book, I think the last one was Before I Wake. I've always enjoyed her books and Taken sounded quite intriguing so I decided to give it a read. Taken wasn't exactly what I expected, it was more psychological drama instead of action drama, but I really enjoyed it. Some of Dee Henderson's newish books have been a little harder for me to get into than, say, the O'Malley series, but this one was different. I expected to take a few days reading the 420+ pages but instead finished it in a single day. I just couldn't seem to put it down, I was so totally absorbed in the story. I really enjoyed how Taken leads the reader through the events, ramifications, and emotional journey of the return of a kidnapped girl. Instead of being about the search for a missing girl and ending with a joyous reunion, Taken is the story of what happens after, what the first days are like, all of the messy thoughts and feelings, the emotional adjustment for everyone involved. Life, especially after a seriously traumatic event isn't always clear-cut. People's thoughts, emotions, and motivations are a truly tangled web. Dee Henderson has a real knack for answering and asking questions readers may not have even thought of before. Another plus is the very dramatic cover that the Bethany House team gave this book. It really matches the story and I can easily say that it is going to be one of my favorites from 2015. Fascinating, emotionally intense, Dee Henderson's latest is definitely a riveting story and it's one you really won't want to miss. (I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.)
One thing I love about Dee Henderson's works is that she is very good about making a rounded storyline. That and I love how she brings characters in from other books in her series. It helps you get to hear from some of your favorite characters while getting to know new ones! I love that about her! She had a few cameo's from some of the O'Malley Group in this book and I loved it!!!! It's one of my all time favorite series to read! I read it over and over again and cry every time when it comes time for Jennifer to pass. makes me sad just thinking about it. In Taken, Dee henderson is not gonna disappoint. Everything you loved from her other books is present in this new one! I am absolutely in love with it! if there was one thing I would prefer, it would be that she was able to release way more books. lol. for me it takes to long to get the next one. but when it comes out, boy is it worth it. IN this new book, you have Michael who has had tragedy happen in his past with him and his daughter. and he is just now starting to get it back together completely. that is until Shannon is literally sitting outside his hotel room one night when he was supposed to be on his way to dinner with some friends...who are trying to set him up on a blind date. Shannon has finally gotten away from her kidnappers, and it has been years. The one person she believes she can trust happens to be Michael, because of how she has seen him cope with his daughter being kidnapped as well. As Michael helps Shannon make her way back home, he learns more about the woman sitting next to him, along with himself on the long car ride back to Chicago. He learns just how much Shannon has been doing to help the people around her the past few years that she has been missing. And just how much they will end up helping each other in the end of this adventure. Like I said, I loved this book and I would highly recommend it to any and everyone!
I love Dee Henderson. This isn't my favorite of her books, but it was very intriguing.
Love love love loved this book! It reminded me of the famous Patty Hearst case from 1974 and 1975. This was the first book that I have read by Dee Henderson but now I am hooked. Mysteries and suspense novels are some of my favorites to read and this one also had a nice element of a "hint of romance". I hated having to put my kindle aside and stop reading to walk the dogs, wash clothes, etc today. I was very anxious to know what was going to happen next for Shannon. Shannon and Matthew are characters who could easily be friends of mine and I found them very likable. I was quickly invested in their story and eager to read what the next page would hold for them. I have always wanted to be involved in a CSI unit and this book let me feel like I was doing just that. Readers who also enjoy criminal and crime shows are likely to find this book just as exciting as I did. I rate this book 5 stars and give it high recommendations. I received a free ebook copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Eleven years ago Shannon Bliss was abducted from her car and coerced into helping the crime family who took her. Now she has escaped and wants nothing more than to return to a normal life and put behind bars the ones responsible for kidnapping her. Private investigator Matthew Dane wants nothing more than to help her do just this. Soon, however, he discovers that Shannon’s troubles are far from over. He needs to uncover the truth of what happened in those eleven years but if he does, will he be stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets? This story caught me from the very beginning and kept me hooked until the very end. Yes, it is a long story and a deeper read, not one to be read lightly, you need to pay attention to the details, but it was really good. My suspect list was long. I was questioning the motives, comments, actions of so many people. My only disappointment was a part at the end. It is a preference moment, one of those “What would you do?” situations and I would have done it differently if I was Shannon. Other than that I liked the book very much and it is a keeper for me. *I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts I have shared are entirely my own.*
Book: Taken Author: Dee Henderson Publisher: BethanyHouse Back cover blurb: 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 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 uncover exactly what happened to her-even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets. First let me start off by saying I have never read a book by Dee Henderson before, so I was looking at this book and reading it through very fresh eyes. I had no background or knowledge of any of her prior published books. Taken is written from the perspective of Matthew Dane, as he first comes in contact with Shannon Bliss, because she purposely makes sure she is in the same place at the same time as him so she can ask for his help. She chooses Matthew because of his familiarity with how to handle with reentry after a kidnapping. Matthew’s daughter had once been in a similar circumstance and was missing for 8 years so he knew how delicate the situation was and how exactly to proceed and handle it. I felt that the book held my interest okay, but the it left a lot to the imagination. As readers we have to spend a lot of time filling in story lines and plots inside ourselves to get a very clear picture of exactly what Shannon went through while under captivity with the Jacoby crime family. Flash backs and excerpts from her memory leave something to be desired and even though the book claims to be suspenseful, it leaves something to be desired in that department. The book is christian romance/suspense, so I understand that things have to be limited in terms of what exactly is said when referring to flashbacks or details about the crimes and things the Jacoby crime family have done. That could prove to be very triggering and put offish to someone looking to read a christian only type of book That being said the book could be read by either audience, christian or otherwise as the amount of actual christian/God things are limited. I have since read a lot of reviews on Dee Hendersons other books and see a lot of hype focusing on some of her other series. I would definitely like to read something else by her so I can get a better feel of how she writes as an author. Disclaimer: I received this book complimentary from Bethany House to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and I will not be compensated in any way for writing this review.
The latest book that Bethany Publishing House sent me for free in exchange for my review is Taken by Dee Henderson. This book had an interesting plot line although I found some of the plot line to be unrealistic or frustrating. One of the things that I found frustrating was that very little of what actually happened to Shannon, the female protagonist during the 11 years in which she was captive came out in the story. We know that she traveled with thieves and that she must have helped with one of the men in the clan's sons, but much of her daily life is left a mystery. The book was more about her coming away from that life than about that time, so while at times I really wanted to know what had happened to her, I understood that this book was simply not going to tell us. Another part that I found frustrating was the problems that Matthew, the male protagonist, had with dating Shannon. His reservations were mentioned so often that it got rather old to hear it again. One of the unrealistic parts of the plots was that Shannon somehow was able to do research while she was in captivity and was able to figure out who she was going to find to help her transition into a normal life. She was also allowed to keep a camera and take many, many photos. Then someone would look at the photos and take out any photos with people in them. There were thousands of photos though, so it would be unrealistic for her captors allow her to take so many because you would think that captors would not be kind enough to search through thousands of photos. Another unrealistic part of the story is that all the women who have had something happen to them all become successful artists. I guess we are to believe that all people who have gone through traumatizing evens must have skills in that field. While there were parts that I thought were unrealistic or frustrating, overall the plot was interesting. It wasn't a book that made me want to sit and read it cover to cover in one night, but I did read it casually over the course of a week. As far as theological concerns, the biggest one that I have is that both the female and male protagonists at times mention finding God outside of means (Word and Sacrament). Coming from a Lutheran perspective this is troubling because what we know of God's will is that He desires all men to be saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus. What we don't know is what we should do or think at each given moment of our lives. God gives us our First Article gifts to use to help us make decisions and notice things about people and our environment in a helpful way. I would not recommend this book partially because it wasn't the best book I've read and partially because of the theological concerns that I have with it.
Fans of Dee Henderson will love her continuing books. I love the way Dee has built a community of characters that you love to see preferred to in future books. "Taken" is a wonderful read that will keep you turning the pages to the end.
No suspense in this one. I'm a great fan of Dee Henderson, but this one was anything but exciting. If that was the intent, the author succeeded. The characters were well developed, and Henderson did not fail at telling the story in a masterful way. But, there were no plot twists, so surprises, everything pretty much worked out has everyone hoped. The part about Shannon's incredible number of photographs taken while captive was, well, incredible. I don't think anyone could have taken so many photos, and had most of them be high quality. I've done my share of photography, and it just takes more time to make good photos than Shannon would have had. The writing was excellent which is why I gave it even three stars.
If I had to use one word to describe Taken, the newest Christian fiction from Dee Henderson, I think it would be COMPLEX. I have read almost everything Dee Henderson has written and find myself amazed each time I read a new book - her ability to weave the complexities of a mystery, crimes, criminals, victims, survivors, and relationships continues to astound me. Taken is a completely stand-alone book with its own story, complexities, and primary characters; but as a reader, you'll enjoy visiting again with some of the characters from Full Disclosure and Unspoken. You don't need to read either of those books to be touched and affected by Taken, but your experience is certainly enhanced if you have background on the primary characters in those stories. Ms. Henderson weaves a wonderful story of family dynamics, a crime family that rivals the mob, friendships borne out of necessity, a survivor who comes out stronger than anyone could ever expect, and a former cop who is the absolute perfect man to help our heroine re-enter her life. The author develops Matthew as an incredibly insightful man, one who is secure in his faith but finds it tested as he helps Shannon navigate her re-entry. I felt I could literally hear his voice and I feel he always knows exactly what to say and when to say it to help Shannon. I was amazed at the depth of the situations that Ms. Henderson includes in the story, but at the same time, leaving so much up to the reader to infer. Matthew's ability to know how things should progress and his ability to understand what Shannon isn't telling him through her actions makes him a wonderfully endearing man. He's incredibly sensitive to Shannon's needs and has an amazing ability to analyze facts and situations and surmise cause and effect, and the impact on Shannon and her family. I only wish I had the eloquence with words that Ms. Henderson has to adequately explain how wonderful Matthew is. He and Shannon create a simple but comfortable relationship quickly and while I wouldn't call this a romance novel, per se, the foundation of a deeper relationship between Matthew and Shannon is definitely laid. Matthew and Shannon's faith both play a role in this story. God, and their faith, are just another character in the story and conversations about both are comfortable and delightful. A wonderful example near the end of the book really struck me. During a scene where Matthew said a simply prayer over their lunch, Shannon pauses afterwards, remarking that Matthew is good at speaking his mind to God. He remarks that he believes she is too. Her response is, "Not out loud." Matthew's response was "You can learn. Because if you want to share a prayer with me, you'll either need to say it out loud or write it down and let me read it." Shannon asks if Matthew wants her to share her prayers, to which he responds, "Yes. Or at least tell me what you're talking about with God. He's your best friend, Shannon. It's kind of hard to really know you if I don't know what you and God are talking about." What a wonderful insight into a natural, comfortable relationship with God. While Shannon's story is complex, and I often found myself re-reading certain passages to ensure I understood what was being discussed, there were also aspects of the story that were left up to the reader's imagination. I found that an interesting approach to writing a suspenseful novel. The author provides details to set the stage for certain circumstances but allows the reader to fill in the blanks of certain details of the story without it being spelled out. It enables the reader to feel a part of the story as I'm sure my experience reading Taken will differ from another reader's as our views on life will shape how we fill in those aspects of the story left to our imagination. Ultimately, Taken is an emotionally wrenching Christian suspense novel with all the characteristics we've come to know and love from Dee Henderson. I found myself turning the pages faster and faster to see what came next, while also wanting to slow down and savor the story in the moment. I found myself finishing this book quickly, but knowing that I'll turn around and read it again and savor so many intricacies that can only be appreciated the second time around. Taken has a permanent place on my shelf, and in my heart. Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest. review