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Taken Away

171
Taken Away
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.
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I really enjoyed Taken Away, despite how I felt about the opening couple of chapters, which mostly introduced the main characters. The main plot of the story is the fact that one of the main characters has disappeared and the other is left to try and deal with that.

I liked Jessee for his love of animals and his willingness to stick his neck out to help people. There was a minor plot point that happened in relation to a couple of runaway women who were drawn to Jessee. The abuser came looking for them and tried to kill Jessee and take the women back home.

There were a lot of emotional elements to the story including love and loss. This is one of the few books that made me cry.
Unlike most books that are romances, “Taken Away” by Patricia Yager Delagrange has chosen to make her protagonist a man. This unique twist captured my attention immediately. When veterinary student Jessee Bradford meets and falls in love with the somewhat strange artist Serena Middleton it seems this will be a sweet love story. It doesn’t take very long to take a sharp turn. It becomes apparent there is something disturbing about Serena beyond her hippie style of clothing and her need to live near the ocean.

Ironically, after graduating Jessee begins his career working at the Middleton Veterinary Clinic, a facility owned by Serena’s father. However the wealthy Mr. Middleton has no idea Jessee works there. Serena’s parents disapprove of her relationship with the young vet suspecting he is after her money. Things become more complicated when two and a half years into their relationship Serena tells Jessee she is pregnant. It’s here that the author takes another twist since Jessee wants to get married and have the baby but Serena does not. The free spirited artist wants to pursue her career without the hindrance of a baby. Eventually Jessee is able to persuade her they can be a family.

What follows is both a mystery and a somewhat complex tale of a young man trying to hold onto his sanity as the world collapses around him. Serena and their baby daughter Sofia disappear. Jessee returns home one day to find them gone with no clue as to what happened.

As the story progresses new characters are introduced, although not all of them are fully developed. The story becomes somewhat convoluted and while it is easy to read it has some improbable moments. I struggled through the last half of the book because I wanted to know what had happened to Serena and Sofia.I guessed what had happened early on and wanted to find out if I was right. Just when I thought things had been settled the author threw in one final twist that I felt was unnecessary. The ending was disappointing and somewhat contrived.

I think young adults might enjoy this book because it is written simply. The author had a good idea for a plot but the story could have been meatier, the dialogue more believable, and the characters more developed.
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