Charlotte is a fragile character. She remains tortured because of her horrible experience. At age sixteen, she was kidnapped and held for four years. She has not been able to speak about it. She never says much in this novel, but the reader is able to perceive some of her horrors. Turns out, Charlotte has a secret that she must keep. This twist keeps the reader turning pages.
Charlotte wrestles with the question: how can she trust in a God who allowed this? The novel doesn't fully answer this question.
Bryce is a bored coin collector. He and Charlotte meet when she sells him coins she's inherited from her Grandfather's estate. A good bit of the tale is a study of unbelievable wealth. What would you do with a ton of money? It's interesting to see how Charlotte and Bryce settle this problem.
The romance is as fragile as Charlotte. Bryce is a master at the art of gentling. I can say no more without spoiling your read.
Thank you to Amy Green at Bethany House Publishers for my copy.
Bryce Bishop is a coin dealer, but he is bored out of his mind. or he was, until Charlotte Graham showed up. Charlotte Graham has coins to sell, A-lot-of-coins. Like vaults full of coins. Really old coins. She appears one night under mysterious circumstances and intrigues Bryce. She's offering him the opportunity to buy her collection of coins. If he says no, she's going to open up a coin store right next door and be his direct competition. As the mysterious circumstances past and present surrounding Charlotte begin to unravel, Bryce wants to help her with distributing her grandfathers estate. Bryce comes to realize that the estate is much more than he imagined. Charlotte has a disturbed past and hasn't said a word to anyone about the four years she spent kidnapped. Even though it has been 18 years, her past is still chasing her.
I have been a fan of the Dee Henderson ever since I read the O'Malley series. This certainly wasn't the best book she has ever written. But I still thought it was a really good book.
* I was given this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
I was expecting an easy, thrilling read from Dee Henderson, having enjoyed several of her previous books. What I got was a slowly unfolding plot filled with super tedious and uninteresting information about coin collecting and sales through which we had to wade. In addition, the main character, Charlotte, actually came across as a very egotistical, self-centered woman, in spite of all her generosity in giving to charity. (But what is giving millions when you possess billions?) Bryce, her friend and love interest, had to do all the bending in their relationship, which starred Charlotte as a pampered rich girl who should be given whatever she wanted because she endured a horrific kidnapping from age 16-20. Life for everyone had to be all about Charlotte. I didn't like Charlotte at all, and I wanted to like the main character. Bryce was manipulated and led to the slaughter, so to speak. He didn't choose Charlotte; her equally wounded friend chose him for Charlotte.
Not related to the plot, but something I noted: I tired of all the references to extremely unhealthy food choices (always stuff like pizza, nachos, brownies, ice cream, candy bars, etc.) and how eating this way was somehow a virtue.
Henderson had an interesting idea for a plot, but it never got off the ground. This book was a very disappointing read for me.
I've read almost all of Dee Henderson's books. I loved her Uncommon Heroes series, and I loved the early books in the O'Malley series (I also loved the last one, but the three in the middle? Not so much). She also wrote two very good stand-alone novels, then didn't publish anything for several years.
So when Full Disclosure came out last year, I was keen to read itâ€”until I saw the reviews. I did eventually buy and read Full Disclosure, and found I agreed with all the critical reviews. I donated my copy to the church library where I can forget it ever existed.
So you will understand why I was apprehensive about Henderson's new book, Unspoken. The blurb didn't make it clear if this was related to Full Disclosure or not (and I see being related to Full Disclosure as a bad thing).
First, it seems to me that Henderson has already done the kidnapped twin plot in Danger in the Shadows (the O'Malley prequel). Second, the blurb was released at the same time as the revolting Castro kidnapping came to light, and it seemed pretty obvious what would have happened to the fictional Charlotte Graham, and that wasn't something I want to read about. It seems almost voyeuristic. Abhorrent as this is, it also seemed that if this wasn't what happened in Unspoken, it wouldn't be true to life.
Unspoken wasn't perfect. It is a sequel to Full Disclosure, and Paul Falcon and Ann Silver do feature, but Ann has mellowed in marriage and is a lot more of a relatable character. I found it odd that we had a romantic suspense novel that didn't have a single scene from the heroine's viewpoint. The book was written almost entirely from the male point of view: Bryce Bishop, Paul Falcon and John Key (Charlotte's bodyguard, not the Prime Minister of New Zealand). It's possible the book was too long and that there was too much information about antique coins (Bryce is a coin dealer; Charlotte has a collection to sell).
Henderson is still obsessed with writing about uber-rich characters. She might be making the point that no amount of money will fill the God-shaped hole inside us, but the pattern is starting to come across as unrealistic fantasy, in much the same was as Karen Kingsbury's most recent novels. And I'm not entirely convinced by Charlotte's about-face at the end. It felt a little as though Henderson had written herself into a corner and didn't actually have an answer to her central question.
So what did I like about Unspoken?
I liked Charlotte's central conflict, which takes the "why does God allow bad things to happen" question one step further. Charlotte's view is that God is too willing to forgiveâ€”she doesn't want anything to do with a God who would give a second chance to the men who hurt her. It's an intriguing premise. I'm not convinced it was answered satisfactorily, but it's an excellent question.
I liked the fact that Unspoken didn't go into any detail about what actually happened during those four missing years, but instead trusted the reader to fill in the blanks.
I liked the writing. There was a poignancy, an almost-unbearable sadness about some of it, and even though we were never inside Charlotte's head, I could understand her in a way I never understood Full Disclosure's Ann Silver. Her background meant it made sense that she was insular, reluctant to trust others and had no intention of ever marrying. What would be character faults in anyone else were understandable in Charlotte, given her background.
And I loved Bryce Bishop. I have no idea why this man is still single at forty (except that this is a novel). He's patient, loving and unselfishâ€”everything a romantic hero should be (his only fault is that he is too perfect). So while I still don't like Full Disclosure, I very much enjoyed Unspoken and would recommend it.
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.