What’s worse than witnessing a child abduction?
Being an adult who survived being kidnapped as a child… and knowing firsthand the psychological and emotional anguish the child will go through.
So sets the stage for If I Want You, with one compelling twist—journalist Tori Peterson is convinced the abduction of Abby Brady from Barlington Primary is related to her own abduction sixteen years earlier.
The journey to bring Abby home is tumultuous filled shady characters, deception and betrayal. Romance is added to the mix when a spark between closed-off Tori and widowed, single-dad Mark Bolton roars to life.
Well-written and nicely paced, If I Want You is an enjoyable, thought-provoking read.
With that being said, my issues lie with the protagonist… Tori Peterson.
I felt sympathy for her.
To find out after-the-fact she wasn’t a chance abduction but targeted and stalked before she was taken makes the blood run cold. Add to that her time with kidnapper Brian Appleton and what she went through and it’s more than a little unsettling.
I empathized with her.
From the moment Abby is taken, Tori is propelled back into her own kidnapping and she’s determined to save Abby from the same fate. She feels her own traumatic experience gives her insight law enforcement overlooks and doesn’t consider. And I happen to agree with her.
I just didn’t care for her over-the-top I-don’t-need-anyone attitude.
Even in fiction, I won’t pretend to understand a character’s motivations… and Tori’s were all over the place.
She feels unworthy, damaged beyond repair and isolated.
I get that.
But it does not give her license to be rude, offensive, condescending, and insulting.
At first, I thought these were defense mechanisms. But when Mark calls Tori’s sister, Melissa, she co-signs the bad behavior, telling him, “Tori’s not the type of woman you want to hassle” and “You’ll come off a darn sight worse than she will if you annoy her enough, believe me.”
What? Yeah, I was ready for a Kindle-flinging moment.
However, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Both her parents felt guilt over her abduction and her sister felt like a failed protector.
When Tori was returned home, her family moved, and once she hit adulthood, she moved out on her own. No doubt to escape the guilty looks and overprotective lifestyle.
There is no mention of Tori receiving counseling or joining a support group. So she’s had sixteen years to internalize her trauma, and it’s not a good look.
However, if you’ve read any of my past reviews, you know not liking the star of the show has never stopped me from loving the story.
Although I figured out early who was at the center of the madness, the story played out nicely. And little Olivia Bolton? What a kid! Children can sometimes come off as precocious and obnoxious, but Olivia is smart and wise beyond her years. Even in her misstep, she digs deep and finds the answers no one else can. Kudos to Mark for being a dad who listens.
Readers who fancy mystery, romantic suspense, and psychological thrillers will revel in If I Want You.
When local journalist, Tori Peterson, fails to prevent a child abduction outside her niece’s school, her horror and guilt sparks a vow to do whatever it takes to get little Abby Brady home to her parents.
While Tori battles the vile memories of her own kidnapping as a child, she accepts the help of widowed father, Mark Bolton. As he and Tori join forces with the local police, their attraction and intimacy grows…along with their fears for Abby.
Links are uncovered between Abby’s disappearance and Tori’s kidnapping, and Tori is forced to accept the monster who held her captive is back. But this time, Tori is all grown up, and there is no way she will let him hurt another little girl.