Taking Charge begins with our female lead Robyn in Chicago. She’s at the airport waiting for a connection to Kalamazoo, Michigan. She’s not looking her best after all those hours of travelling from England! Her backpack breaks … enter male lead Cole Ryan who offers to help. They’re both on their way to Portage.
The story that follows takes the reader through Robyn facing the issues she’d left home for and Cole coming to terms with his past. They’re both trying to find a place to belong being driven by childhood issues and emotional wounds. Alongside this runs the sub-plot of best friend Sarah and her romance (as well as Robyn taking charge of the roadhouse and ice-hockey team).
Straight away Robyn comes across as a very sassy character. She is bossy, feisty, upfront and tells it as it is. This is a complete departure from the other stories I’ve read from this author where I’ve seen the female lead grow and evolve. For me, Robyn over-shadowed Cole and I didn’t feel their attraction as I have in past stories. I did enjoy watching the growing relationship with Robyn and her father Eddie and his partner Nancy. I’m always drawn to the dynamics in family relationships and this was quite a strong theme in Taking Charge.
Written in the third person, this allows the reader to see everyone’s point of view in the story. With Robyn’s character being a strong one, this does allow the reader to identify with Cole’s point of view and reasoning.
My predictions about the character responsible for causing Robyn to leave home were correct. This character was delineated brilliantly and the desperation was palpable.
The author’s writing style of dialogue is easy to read and the story moves at a fast pace which holds the reader’s attention. The most tension-filled moment for me was during an ice-hockey game. I also loved the team camaraderie!
In the ARC there are ice-hockey terms and a suggested music playlist at the beginning. I didn’t need to refer to the terms although I thought it was an added extra that they were there if I needed them.
Taking Charge for me was more about family dynamics than the relationship between Robyn and Cole but I can’t finish my review without saying that the timescale of their romance I found believable as we all are carried along on Robyn’s personality and the ending did leave a tear in my eye!
I would like to thank the publishers for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
PS My favourite novel from Mandy Baggot is Strings Attached!