Sometimes when you read several of an author’s books in a row, you begin to notice that they favor a certain type of plot twist or character, something that may not stand out as much if you just pick up one of their books every now and again, but really jumps out at you if you consume several in a row. Henderson seems to have a thing for having people be kidnapped… Ann was kidnapped in Full Disclosure; Charlotte was kidnapped in Unspoken; and in Taken we meet yet ANOTHER kidnapping victim, Shannon.
Now this wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that all of these characters exist in the same fictional world, and they all know one another! I mean seriously, what are the odds?! Plus, in this book Shannon meets up with Matthew… whose daughter was ALSO kidnapped when she was a kid. ?!?!?!!?
So yes, basically Shannon spent years being held by this nomadic family who ran this kind of weird crime ring around the country. There has been some kind of killing and she was able to escape from her specific captors, although other members of the family are still around and possibly will be super angry that Shannon is meandering about telling all their secrets. Shannon purposefully reveals her true identity to Matthew, because she had read newspaper articles about him when his daughter was missing, and thinks he will understand her situation and be able to help her. Between his experience and his job as a private investigator, plus the fact that he conveniently knows Perfect Ann, Matthew is able to do just that.
The main problem with this book is that I almost died of boredom while reading it. The entire book felt incredibly passive because all of the action is in the past. There was never a single moment that it seemed like Shannon was in danger, and for someone who was held captive for years, she’s remarkably chill about the whole thing, so it didn’t even really feel like the story was about a victim readjusting to normal life.
Instead, it’s just rambling conversations and this whole thing that’s complicated because Shannon’s brother is running for governor, so everyone acts like it’s really important that we make sure that Shannon’s reappearance doesn’t mess up his chances to win that position. (In fairness, the brother doesn’t seem to care nearly as much as everyone else, and he was so genuinely kind to his sister and happy to see her; I liked that bit.) There’s a smidge of mystery surrounding who arranged to have Shannon kidnapped, but even that just kind of fizzles out.
In Undetected there were PAGES about Mark agonizing over the 10-11yr age difference between himself and Gina, but in Taken Matthew is like 15+ years older than Shannon (who is only in her mid-20’s), PLUS you know, Shannon is a RECOVERING KIDNAPPING VICTIM?! But everyone is super chill about the whole thing, and if anyone talks to Shannon about needing to take some time before making a decision, she totally blows it off because she “knows” Matthew is the only one for her… ??? While I liked Matthew and liked Matthew and Shannon as a couple, it felt weird. It also felt like there was absolutely no reason for there to be such a big age difference between them, so I’m not sure why that was even a thing.
Finally, this novel is supposedly a “standalone,” yet there were TONS of conversations between characters that I don’t think would have made any sense if I hadn’t read earlier books, especially a throwaway conversation where Charlotte’s friend tells her fiancee that she’s going to tell Charlotte’s husband “the truth about Marie” … if I hadn’t read the earlier books, I would have no idea even who the heck Marie was, and then, to top it off… she never tells him anything?? I actually DID want to know the truth about Marie, so I was kind of aggravated that that came to nothing.
Anyway, I’m really focusing on the negative here. There were a lot of solid conversations and enjoyable relationships – it wasn’t like I hated every page. But overall the book was just TOO slow without enough action or urgency to carry it through, earning it 2/5.