October 25, 2013

Restore What's Been Lost

Unspoken by Dee Henderson

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 441 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; eARC
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.

The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She's changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.

She's never said a word - to the cops, to her doctors, to family - about those four years.

A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: hope the report doesn't find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened. And her silence is what has protected her family for years.

Bryce Bishop doesn't know her past, he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather's estate - and that the FBI director for the Chicago office made the introduction. The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her. But nothing else is working in his favor - she's decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she's willing to forego a huge inheritance to keep her privacy. She's not giving him much of an opening to work with.

Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved, has only opened another chapter...

Thoughts on Unspoken
I first discovered Dee Henderson when I was in high school. I was primarily reading Christian fiction at the time, and I noticed that there were a ton of her books on display at the Christian bookstore. I started with Danger in the Shadows - the prequel to her popular O'Malley series - and just fell in love. Henderson writes these mystery/thrillers that have just the right amount of romance. I went on to read every single book she'd written and have counted myself as a huge fan ever since.

Prior to last year, her last book was published in 2006. I was always looking for more from her, but I could never find any information on whether or not she was writing another book. And then I spotted an ad for her book Full Disclosure. I bought Full Disclosure the day it released and read it soon after. And, unfortunately, it was one of the most disappointing and frustrating things I'd ever read. I then read and reviewed her new novella, Jennifer, when it was released earlier this year. While I had a few minor issues with it, I did feel like Henderson was finding her groove again. It didn't have the same spark as her earlier books, but I enjoyed her brief return to the beloved O'Malley family.

That's a ton of detail leading up to my review, but I feel like it's relevant because I was only cautiously optimistic about Unspoken. The summary sounded like classic Henderson, but I still wasn't sure. So, I requested the book on NetGalley and hoped for the best. I actually got approved after the book had been published, so I ended up purchasing my own copy just a few days later.

What I found so interesting about Unspoken is that it was a classic Henderson setup but still reflected some of the changes I've noticed recently in her writing style. Charlotte Graham was at the center of one of Chicago's most famous kidnapping cases when she was a teenager. Years have passed, and she's slowly and carefully built a life that she enjoys. When a family relation dies, Charlotte is left in charge of taking care of dismantling the estate and all it entails. In the process, she meets Bryce Bishop. He sells collectible coins, and Charlotte has a stockpile that she wants to part with. Part One of Unspoken deals with this process - making the deals, selling the coins and going through the family member's estate. Charlotte and Bryce get to know each other during this time, but it's a pained and tense process. Charlotte has closed herself off because of her past, and Bryce doesn't know her story.

To be honest, Unspoken has a slower and much more detailed beginning than I've come to expect from Henderson. I personally enjoyed this part, but I do think that some readers will find it a little too tedious or labored. I was interested in it, but it did leave me feeling like this wasn't the Henderson book I'd recommend to someone that was new to her. By Part Two, things had really picked up with the story. The focus on coin collecting shifted back to Charlotte's kidnapping and some of the mystery surrounding it. There have long been some unresolved questions regarding what happened to her during those four years and who, exactly, was involved in her disappearance. This section was much more enjoyable, and getting to this part is what prompted me to stay up until 2 a.m. to finish this book.

As far as the romance, there have been interesting similarities in the romantic relationships from Henderson's most recent full-length novels. In both books, I found the relationships to be interesting but also a bit difficult. Charlotte is a very hard character to connect to - she's cold, closed off and is challenging to like. Bryce, on the other hand, was a really warm and genuine man that I enjoyed getting to know. But the development of his relationship with Charlotte felt much more business-like than romantic. It's partly because of Charlotte's past and partly because of their present circumstances, but I definitely didn't find myself really drawn to this couple. I like that Henderson is trying something new with her romances, but I don't think it's something that everyone will love.

I really enjoyed Unspoken, but I think you have to go into it with the right expectations. It doesn't read like Henderson's earlier books. The pacing is much slower, and there isn't a strong romance aspect to the book. It wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend to introduce someone to Henderson, but I did think it was an enjoyable addition to her overall collection of works. While I may prefer her more fact-paced and romantic stories, this one still had a lot to offer for her fans.

So Quotable
"I wish to do your will today, not less than your will, and not beyond it. Allow me to accept the limits and boundaries and lines you see as best for me, while living fully within them for my joy and your glory."
*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my review.

2 comments:

  1. Whoa, this book sounds intense! I mean, it does have that kidnapping aspect to add that extra intensity. I'm fascinated by the sound of this character -- Charlotte -- even though she seems difficult to like. It's always the prickly ones that have the most interesting stories!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, prickly characters often have such interesting stories! It was definitely intense, but not like stuff I've read from this author previously. Henderson actually writes some of my favorite thrillers - keep me on the edge of my seat!

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