I had Barbara Freethy‘s Taken TBR, and decided to try it, since I’ve heard great things about her and I need to get out of this slump.
The Prologue was pretty good, and had me really curious about the book. Then the first chapter started and I was dumbfounded.
You see, Kayla marries a man, Nick, after knowing him only three weeks. We’re told it’s because for once in her life she wanted to do something daring, something impulsive. Only, Kayla just seems dumb. After reading 122 pages I’m not at all surprised she married a man after knowing him such a short period of time. Not to say that doesn’t work for some people, but this particular man, the one calling himself Nick…well, he’s not really Nick at all. His name is Evan and he’s a sociopath who excels at stealing other people’s identities and fleecing unsuspecting victims of money and possessions.
But Kayla, our very smart, dedicated, straight-laced, overly cautious heroine, she doesn’t see any of the red flags he throws out. She simply sees a charming man who loves her…and well, she loves him too.
Nick (Evan) leaves her on their wedding night. 2 weeks later she stops by his house to see if he’s finally come home and surprise, surprise..he’s there. Only the Nick who answers the door isn’t the Nick she walked down the isle with. And this is where I had to suspend all disbelief.
Here’s how it plays out:
The Nick Kayla married is really a guy named Evan who knew the real Nick in college. Evan got tangled up with Nick’s sister and ended up going to jail for it (I didn’t really understand this part. Either I would have had to go farther in the story to get all the details, or the explanation we were given just plain sucks. But from what I understand, Nick tried to warn his sister away from Evan but she didn’t believe him. Then something happened and his sister got stabbed and Evan just left her bleeding on the ground while he saved himself. Evan went to jail because of Nick’s testimony…for what? I have no idea, no one ever said) and now, 12 years later, Evan stole Nick’s identity, spent a ton of his money, and married Kayla using Nick’s name.
Nick calls the police but they tell him they can’t really do anything for him. They’re unconcerned. So he decides to figure it out on his own. He tracks Kayla down (she ran from his house) and together they start trying to figure out what Evan’s game is.
Now, I’m ready to throw the book against the wall:
1) The police don’t care that Kayla’s husband disappeared. Now, I can believe this of the Tahoe cops (that’s where they got married) because a lot of people cruise up there to get married and I’m sure a lot of men run out as soon as they realized what they’ve done. But once Kayla got back and reported it to the San Fran police (where both her and her hubby-of-one-day live) they didn’t care either. They threw her report into a stack of thousands.
Now, maybe I’m a bit biased because I have insider info here, but if someone was reported missing and they’d been gone 2 weeks with no trace, I’m pretty sure the police would have at least contacted their family. In this case, that would be Nick’s sisters (I think he has three) and his parents. But they were never notified. The cops never bothered to run his name or see if he had family or anything. This wouldn’t have happened.
Same with Nick’s complaint about his identity being stolen. Again with the insider info, but when a fraud report is made, the cops have to log in every single account that was stolen from (i.e. credit cards, bank accounts, etc). They have to spend hours writing reports with all the info listed and the victim of the theft has to then report it to their insurance company and respective credit card companies/banks. But when Nick reported it, the cops just shrugged it off and said they had other things to worry about. Which is just bullshit. But even beyond that, Nick never even bothered to see just how much was stolen. He didn’t spend days going over all his account statements looking for fraudulent charges. He just rushed over to Kayla’s house and started badgering her about her relationship with Evan and some pocket watch she gave him, which he believes is the whole reason Evan was with her to begin with. And at first it was “He took quite a bit” and then it was “I’m destitute” only he hadn’t checked to see just how much was taken. And he keeps saying, “I don’t even know what the damage is yet”. Well, dumbass, that’s because it’s only been two days since you got back from Africa (where he’s been for 3 months, building a bridge) and you never bothered to check your accounts to see exactly how much was stolen. Fucktard Which reminds me……
2) The characters are retarded. Nick is convinced the pocket watch Kayla gave Evan on their wedding night is the whole reason Evan married her. He figures this out because Kayla says that’s the only thing she gave him. So they confront her grandmother, who’d given Kayla the watch to begin with, and she basically acts all scared and tells Kayla to drop it. Huh. Cuz that makes sense?
Then we find out the grandma was a stripper back in the day and the watch was given to her by someone other than her late husband (Kayla’s grandfather). Grandma is terrified for her granddaughter’s safety, so she goes back to the strip club she once worked at and asks her former best friend from her misspent youth (who owns the place now) to help her. Only the friend won’t because Grandma acted like she was better than everyone and turned her back. But still she doesn’t say anything to her family and just goes on her merry way.
3) Nick and Kayla start investigating the watch on their own and track the symbol on the back to a local jewelry store. The agree to meet at a church before going to the shop and Kayla sees a nun who has Evan’s eyes and is wearing sneakers walk by, then she’s knocked on her ass by a bible that was thrown from the balcony where an organ mysteriously started playing. But she convinces herself it was “just an accident” and they proceed to the shop like nothing happened.
Once they reach the shop it’s obvious the owner knows something, but they just shrug that off, too, and go have lunch together.
4) Nick’s sister was fucked over by this Evan dude and ended up stabbed and left for dead because of him (or by him, or something) and yet, she still “loves” him, twelve years after the fact. And there’s still “good in him, you just can’t see it”. Evidently Evan calls her out of the blue to wish her a happy birthday and she tells him her brother is doing well, which is why Evan is back all of a sudden. So now she’s terrified Evan is going to hurt her brother (because of several phone calls with Evan she tells no one about) but she just wrings her hands and says, “Oh no!” What.the.fuck. A man who was responsible for you almost dying 12 years ago suddenly pops back into your life and is fucking your brother over and you DEFEND him to said brother and then PRIVATELY worry about his safety? I don’t think so. TSTL anyone? But I don’t want you to take my word for it. Have a look-see:
She put up a hand, reading is mind. “Okay, maybe I was naive once, but I was a kid then. I’m an adult now. I know that Evan is a thief. I also know that he has a weird code of honor that you couldn’t possibly understand. And,” she added with a touch of defiance, “not everything or everyone is as black-and-white as you like them to be. Evan did have good traits. He wasn’t all bad. He treated me very well at times. I think his childhood had a lot to do with the kind of person he became. It wasn’t his fault that he was abused and abandoned, that he had to grow up on his own in a very tough world.”
“You don’t know how bad is childhood really was,” Nick argued. “Everything that came out of his moth was a lie. How do you know what the truth is? He told you what he wanted you to believe.”
“Not everything was a lie. I knew him better than you did, Nick.”
“You think a man is going to tell you the truth just because he has sex with you? God, Jen, that’s when most of the lies are told.” He saw the hurt on her face and almost regretted his choice of words, but she was caring him. Knowing that Evan was back in their lives, knowing how close he’d come to ruining her once, Nick couldn’t bear to see it happen again. Jenny was weak where Evan was concerned. “You can be so smart about everything else; why can’t you see Evan for who he is?”
“I think we’re done,” she said with a sharp, irritated edge to her voice. “you’ve made your point.”
Before she could get to her feet, he put a hand on her shoulder. “One more thing, just in case you’re thinking this is all some attempt by Evan to get back into your life. You should know that he married someone else using my name just two weeks ago, about the same time he started sending you gifts.”
“What?” she asked. “What did you say?”
Nick frowned. Jenny seemed more surprised by this piece of news than by the fact that Evan had robbed him.
This is a man who was responsible for you almost DYING and that FUCKED YOU OVER. Not yesterday, not a week ago, but TWELVE FUCKING YEARS AGO…are you REALLY that stupid? Seriously?
5) After the church/jewelry store incident, they go back to Nick’s house to do some research on the internet and then Kayla decides she’s had too much excitement for the day and wants to go home. Nick follows her to make sure she’s safe and once they get home she sees her house has been broken in to. They don’t call the police, though. Instead, Nick goes to search the house to see if the perpetrator is still there and Kayla gets attacked by some big guy….
Who turns out to be an FBI agent Nick went to college with (this FBI dude also knew Evan). Only they don’t ask to see his ID. They just go, “Whoa, really? I thought the cops didn’t care about our mess” and FBI dude says, “Well, that’s before they knew it was Evan. I’m on the case now, though. I’ve been tracking him for years.” But uh, with the stupid shit he’s done so far, I could have freaking caught him. So yeah, I’m not buying it.
This is where I stopped. I checked the Amazon reviews for this book and 90% of them were golden (with the exception of one which just pissed me off and will probably spark another post down the road). I also found a review at The Romance Reader and although the reviewer didn’t just rave about the book, she seemed to enjoy it for the most part. Crystal really seemed to enjoy it, too.
So, I ask you, is it just me? Am I too anal? Am I the only person who notices the things listed above?
Because I’m curious, I’m willing to send you my book so you can read it. If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I’ll ship the book to you.