November TBR.... a book originally released in ebook format
Taking Chase is the 2nd book in the Chase brothers series by Lauren Dane. You can read my review of the first book, Giving Chase, here. Once again, Ms. Dane has created complex, three dimensional characters that come alive from the very first page.
Cassie’s introduction to Petal is a feeling of rightness, of safety. It is abruptly ended by a rear-ending at the hands of Polly Chase, mother of all those delicious Chase brothers. That is how much of the book is written - a roller coaster of feeling yanked from safety into uneasiness. Cassie is written with multi-faceted emotions; at first fearful and careful; not just private, but secretive. All perfectly understandable for a victim of such tremendous emotional and physical abuse as she. All of the Chase family are supportive, in that incredibly wonderful Chase way, with the exception once again of Shane, who feels an unrelenting need to unravel the mystery. Is Cassie so secretive because she is hiding a criminal past? Is his need to dig deeper because he feels such a strong attraction to her, or is it because he feels obligated as the town sheriff to protect the citizens of Petal? He is unsure at first, as is Cassie. This leaves Cassie feeling confused and scared, because she is attracted to Shane as well, and doesn’t want to be, but he also leaves her feeling vulnerable, and she never wants to feel that way again.
Shane, as portrayed in the first book, was not the most sympathetic of characters, but we learned just enough of his past to make him appear vulnerable and to create enough of a sense of anticipation for his comeuppance. In Taking Chase, we learn more of his past, and why he is so reluctant to open himself up to a relationship. When he meets Cassie, he feels as though he’s been hit by a sledgehammer. He must control all his domineering tendencies, which frighten Cassie and drive her away.
Much of the conflict is derived from Cassie’s refusal to be dominated, and Shane’s inherent "alphaness". Dane also creates a feeling of suspense, as the reader senses that Cassie’s ex-husband will make a re-appearance at some point. We are kept waiting in anticipation. Will she be ready? Or will she still be held immobile by her fears and past victimization?
The interaction between Cassie and the people of Petal was very realistic. At first she held herself apart, not wanting to get too close to anyone. Slowly, she started to allow herself to make some friendships with some of the women. Yet she remained afraid of the men. Dane did a good job of showing how the men were careful to always allow Cassie to see them before they touched her, and not to startle her. Her panic attacks were what one would expect of someone in her position. I liked that her physical relationship with Shane built slowly, even though they were strongly attracted to one another. She had self-image problems and this continued, even throughout much of their physical relationship. What didn’t happen, and what I would have expected from *SPOILER* a multiple rape victim, was that the first time that they had actual intercourse, Cassie didn’t freak out. I found myself wondering about that several times as I read the book, even though the rest of the sex scene was perfectly written. This was the only thing that gave me pause in the entire portrayal of Cassie, as I felt that the rest of her personality and her relationships were highly realistically drawn.
I liked the character growth. I like to see characters grow and change if it’s warranted. When you meet that special someone, something often happens to you. Or, as in Cassie’s case, if some major life-altering event occurs, it precipitates changes in you. Cassie grows as the book progresses; learns to take more control over her life, not to live in such fear, to be more assertive, not just in terms of her emotions, but her physical being as well. Shane must learn to put another’s needs before his own, which is perhaps the most difficult for him. He had to turn his alpha personality into gentleness and learn to channel his frustration in ways that were non-threatening. In doing so, he learned a lot about himself and about his interactions with others. He learned to forgive. He grew as well, and became the kind of protective alpha Cassie needed – one who allowed her the freedom to make decisions on her own while always knowing the backup was there.
And as always, this is a Lauren Dane book, so the sex scenes are written beautifully and explicitly. And they are hot! But they serve to really forward this story in a big way. They are a major growing point in Cassie and Shane’s relationship, so without them, the book would be much less than it is. It is just a huge plus that Dane writes them so darn well *g*.
As with Giving Chase, I really cannot recommend this book enough. The storyline grips you right from the start. You care about these characters. You root for them and their relationship. Lauren Dane left me panting for more. Chased is coming in March. All three are available from Samhain.