My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Taken, a novella, is the book 3 of Charlotte Stein’s Under the Skin series. I got interested in this series when I hosted a blog tour for the author. This series is also my first try at this author’s writing.
From what I’ve seen, the books in this series don’t connect at all... at least where the characters are concerned. The theme varies but there are always these dark elements that are dealt with in each book.
I read book 1, Intrusion, couple of month ago. It was an intense story of two psychologically damaged people who were the victim of kidnapping at one point of their lives. And that is only a part of their ordeal. While Beth has somewhat picked up the pieces of her traumatic experience and moved on with her life, Noah couldn’t because his scars ran deep. Both physically and psychologically. They were neighbors for years, yet Noah’s reclusive living had made sure that Beth was a stranger... until one day, when she had to knock on his door. And when they find each-other, it didn’t feel like something rash or unwanted. Oh their connection, physical and emotional, was awkward at first but somehow, both Noah and Beth ended up filling the void in each-other that both were harboring ever since their experiences.
TBH, I thought the writing style was full of redundant, convoluted sentences. I don’t mean to be harsh but I had a pretty tough time keeping my focus because I had to re-read over and over again to get the meaning of certain paragraphs. It just didn’t work all that well, until, to be fair to her, the story got so intensely emotional that I was completely glued to it. In the end, I enjoyed it.
Hadn’t had a chance of reading book 2, Forbidden. But Taken was given to me as a part of another blog tour, so I decided to dig in. Unfortunately, I can’t say I enjoyed it.
This story revolves around the scrumptious captor-captive theme, a favorite of mine and should’ve pushed all my right buttons. But it didn’t. Apart from the writing that was still not my cuppa, this time, even the story couldn’t keep me hooked. When I finished, I had no idea what to think, feel and what to put in my review.
Rosie, a college student, gets into trouble when she and buddy, Marnie, go to set fire in one of the bookshops nearby. Oh, it was Marnie’s idea and she tagged Rosie along, who went with her obediently, all the while noting why they shouldn’t be doing it. But Marnie is pissed at the owner of the shop who insulted her in some way and is determined to ‘teach him a lesson’.
Wait a minute, a college student in her early 20s is planning to commit arson just because the owner insulted her... REALLY? Do they even have brains? And what of Rosie? How could she even go with that crazy nutcase and not report her for that psycho behavior?
While I was contemplating this, they set the fire. Though not big, it gets the shop owner’s attention. After that, while Marnie skips off happily (by that I mean runs away like the coward she was), Rosie gets caught as the owner just grabs her, throws her on his big shoulders and marches inside the shop, locking them inside.
Just the two of them.
From there, it should’ve been a great story. Johann, or Han, whose ancestry I couldn’t decipher but maybe of German descent, takes Rosie directly down to the basement... where he also lives and chains her up (not inhumanely BTW, I don’t want anyone to think of him as a monster or something, because he wasn’t) to his bed. Soon it becomes apparent that it was a case of ‘accidental’ kidnapping because Han did what he had to in the heat of the moment, without any intentions of hurting Rosie at all. He already has a criminal past and had done time. He’s now very much reformed, with trying to eke out a living from his bookstore. Yet, everything would be ruined if Rosie is set free and reports him.
Oh and yes, Han loves to read too, so not just a bookseller for a living but an avid reader as well.
Did I mention that he’s HUGE to look at, way over 6’ (I got all the impression from Rosie’s very unreliable POV so bear with me); tall, muscular, big hands, tight butt... with an overall hairy body. :p I’m not big on too hairy men but Han was something else entirely. His is a dark sense of humor, especially when it comes to his own ‘faults’ and what he deems are his ‘imperfections’. The reasons why Rosie shouldn’t be panting after him the way she already was since the moment he chained her to the bed. Very self-deprecating, if I may say so. Yet, he was adorable in an odd way. I liked him instantly and missed his POV in the whole story. Seriously, I would’ve preferred that!
Why I said is that since page I we get Rosie’s incessant ramblings about every freakin’ thing, which at one point, Han becomes the center of. Her monologues, dialogues, whatever was there, were full of confusing remarks. And they were the most annoying thing to get through! Regrettably, the story itself was told from her POV, so there was no escaping it. I didn’t get her at all and lost interest in her pretty much after page 3. She wanted to have sex with Han the moment she clapped her eyes on him and that was her target throughout.
Reluctantly, at one point, Han admits his proclivities. Bondage turns him on more than anything but he thinks it’s wrong to like it so much so he keeps his urges under leash, more or less. He definitely doesn’t want Rosie to get embroiled in it, and him, though he also wanted her a lot. He sets her free the next day, hoping she’d escape... yet secretly hoping she’d return. It could’ve been the recipe for such a sexy little story, had it not been for Rosie’s crazy blabbering. God, she gave me headaches! I could barely even make out the story outline. The author did an excellent job on her character but I’m sorry to say that Rosie was all wrong for me.
So in the end, for me, it just turned out to be the story of a horny college student trying to seduce a little older, a bit stuck up bookshop owner and succeeding in her quest. Nothing intense with some underlying meaning or something open-ended for me to contemplate upon.
The epilogue was rather poetic but if I compared it to rest of the story, it made no sense. Rosie simply can’t think that way IMO, or Han’s literary influence may have rubbed off on her? Who knows. I loved how she called him her ‘wolf’. Finishing off the review in hopes that you find the connotation when you read it. I just wish I could believe in it. 3 stars.
I received this ARC, courtesy of Avon Red Impulse, via edelweiss as a part of Taken Blog Tour (April 2015), which didn’t influence my review and rating in any way.