Sunday, December 30, 2012

Taking Chase by Lauren Dane

Cassie Gambol is on the run. In what seems like another lifetime, her ex-husband nearly ended her life and effectively ended her successful career as a vascular surgeon. But even though the justice system found him guilty of attempted murder, he fled while awaiting sentencing and Carly Sunderland became Cassie Gambol.

Fleeing Los Angeles, she heads to small and off the map Petal, Georgia to start her life again.

Shane Chase, a man who’s held himself away from commitment since his fiancĂ©e dumped him several years before knows the beautiful newcomer is hiding something. He’s wildly attracted to her strength and her underlying vulnerability as well.

But the last thing Cassie wants is another big, overwhelming man who wants to control her life. A battle begins between Shane, who knows what he wants and Cassie, who knows she needs to do everything she can to keep a distance between herself and the very handsome sheriff.

But Cassie’s ex is back and he wants her dead.

Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language, some violent situations.

Where to Buy

A feel-good, sweet romance story that will have you smiling and laughing, and occasionally will break your heart a little at what Cassie has been through. This isn't a sad and depressing story about a woman that's endured horrible domestic violence in her first marriage, but rather a hopeful and heartwarming tale of a woman who's been through that but found the strength to get away and to work at taking her life back and making it her own. The extent to which she does so, and the way that she finally decides to stop living in fear and to take what she wants from life inspires admiration rather than pity.

Cassie comes to the small town of Petal, Georgia looking to start a new life under a new name and identity. While she is somewhat on the run from her abusive ex-husband who remains at large despite having been convicted of attempted murder, she mostly is in search of a place where she can put the pieces of her life back together and move on. Though she suffers badly from panic attacks and paranoia from the extended abuse during her marriage, and an attempt on her life by her ex-husband after she'd divorced him, she has a core of strength that has allowed her survive it all and to begin to more forward into creating a new life for herself. She's easily spooked by people, and men in particular, when she first arrives in Petal, but gradually, as she gets to know everyone in town better and begins to realize that yes, she can live a normal life if she just gives herself permission to, she begins to blossom. By the end of the book, the shy, frightened woman who came to Petal is gone, and in her place is a self-confident woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and what she does and does not want in life.

Shane is very much the alpha male type. Physically large, and with a very domineering, take charge manner, he is initially very intimidating to Cassie, though not intentionally so. He simply embodies the sort of controlling male that she'd managed to escape and that she has vowed never to let into her life again lest she give another man the chance to control her the way her ex-husband did. Though while he might superficially have many of the same qualities, he definitely is possessed of far more of a sense of honor and rightness than her ex ever had, and it isn't long before he's making her see that he isn't anything like him at all once you get past initial impressions. For while he may come on all gruff and intimidating, he's really a big softy inside, and he's luckily smart enough to realize almost immediately that he's going to have to dial it back around Cassie if he wants to earn her trust, let alone her love

I found the story of how Cassie gradually learns to overcome her shyness and fear around the people of Petal, particularly around Shane and his family, to be quite interesting. I also found it refreshing how the author deals with the issues of her past abuse and present recovery in a realistic fashion and shows how recovery and learning to trust and to love comes in small steps, not all at once, and that setbacks can and will happen still even when enormous progress has been made overall. I've read other stories where the woman suffered abuse in the past, and in too many of them that ends up getting glossed over too much. She meets the hero, falls almost instantly in love with him, and suddenly everything's ok because she's found him. There's none of that in this story, instead it's a gradual courtship between them, and even though their relationship does become physical pretty early on, they still have to navigate their way through a minefield of issues and fights and various events that trigger relapses, however short-lived in Cassie. It all plays out over an extended period of time that lends believability to the transformation that Cassie goes through during the book as she learns to live again.

On the downside, I thought that things drug out just a bit too much, and was frequently mentally tapping my foot waiting for the action to begin through much of the middle part. I get that the author was trying to portray a realistic sort of recovery period and process for Cassie, and to show that it takes time and has a lot of ups and downs, but I felt that there was a lot that could have been cut from this book without taking away from the feeling of gradually getting better and re-learning how to have a normal life. This is largely why I've only given it 3 stars, though certain other aspects would be worthy of a 4 I think. Overall I'd probably really give this 3½ stars. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes slow, sweet romances or who likes seeing recovery processes after abuse portrayed in a realistic fashion. Those who favor high drama, suspense, and fast-paced action will likely be disappointed with this one.

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