If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Taken Away by Patricia Yager Delagrange / @pumpupyourbook

Title: Taken Away
Author: Patricia Yager Delagrange
Publisher: Black Hawk / Ravenswood Publishing
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Romance
ARC Received From & Reviewed For: Pump Up Your Book

Jessee Bradford, a respected young veterinarian in Santa Barbara, California, comes home to find his wife Serena and baby daughter Sofia missing. Jessee fears they have been kidnapped or worse. The FBI investigators believe his wife, the only daughter of a wealthy philanthropist who never approved of their marriage, simply abandoned Jessee and took their child with no intention of returning.

After months of fruitless searching, Jessee relocates to his grandparents’ home in Iowa, where he takes over his grandpa’s veterinary practice. There he finds the family closeness he’s been missing and falls in love with a female equestrian Laura. When Jessee and Laura attend a gallery opening of an artist named She, the paintings remind Jessee of his wife Serena’s art work. Thus begins Jessee’s search to find She while his future with Laura teeters precariously on the edge until the truth about She is discovered.

Is it bad that I didn't (still don't) like Serena? To do what she did simply because she didn't want to disappoint her father... Grow up, you know?

This is a moving tale of happiness, love, loss, betrayal, the search for closure, and a new beginning. Jessee's the ideal husband. Loving, attentive, doting. He loves and adores his wife, Serena, and new daughter, Sofia. Life is good...until it's not.

Moving to Iowa was a chance to move on, well as much as he possibly could. Though Serena and Sofia were still missing and chances of finding them grew slimmer as more time passed, Jessee couldn't shake the feeling that they were still alive. He held onto that inkling and it eventually paid off. But not without learning why.

There are plenty of great moments in this story, most of which seem (to me) happen in Iowa. First and foremost is the family Jessee has there. They filled the loneliness that losing his own family created, but only partially. The companionship he had with a significant other was a void needing, waiting to be filled and it was by Laura.

Laura was an incredibly strong woman. Like Jessee, she hauls around baggage that was hard to divest herself of. The death of her husband when he served overseas left a huge hole in her heart, the size of it enlarged by the memory of their last interaction, an argument. But she was steadfast and loyal to him. Their friendship grew into love, a second love for them both, and the possibility of a future together loomed bright on the horizon.

Until that gallery opening. You ever, as a reader, get the feeling that shit's about to hit the fan simply by paying attention to things written into the story? A feeling, a resemblance, a familiar object. Good God, when the truth of the day Serena and Sofia disappeared and why it even happened came out, I wanted to punch something. Or someone. Preferably Serena and her nosy-ass father.

I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. It's deep and emotional. It tugged at my heart, demanded I react in some way, shape or form. The characters and their situations are relatable. Ms. Delagrange is a new-to-me author and a terrific storyteller. I hope to read more from her in the future.

Fascinated by broken-hearted couples and atypical families, Patricia weaves engaging tales of men and women who create cohesive families where love reigns supreme. She sprinkles her books with intriguing characters who struggle to find balance in life after tragedy. Whether an unwed teenager, desperate widow, abandoned father, or a couple who stray from their marital vows, her characters form relationships impacted by their desire to create a family.

Aside from writing, her favorite things to do include riding her Friesian horse, Maximus, dot-to-dot for adults, and watching Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington movies. She spends a majority of her days writing while her two very large Chocolate Labs lounge on the couch cuddled next to her and her MacBook.

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