Lindsay (Little Reader Library)'s Reviews > Taking Charge

Taking Charge by Mandy Baggot
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May 23, 12

bookshelves: romantic-fiction
Read from May 15 to 17, 2012

'We're just right together, Robyn, don't ask me to explain it. When we first met, you bowled me over, just because you were you.'

Robyn Matthers returns to Portage, Michigan after nine years away living in England. Now 25, she is heading back because her father Eddie is seriously ill. Struggling with her broken backpack as she changes planes in Chicago, she meets Cole Ryan, who it turns out is also travelling to Portage. The two get on well and talk during their flight - well, mainly it's Robyn who talks! I love Cole's first impression of Robin - 'She was nice. Really nice - but kind of crazy. She'd hardly stopped to take a breath between sentences on the plane, but he'd enjoyed it.'

On arrival back in her hometown, Robyn is met by her Aunt Pam and Uncle Bob, who now have not so sweet twin nine-year-old daughters.

Robyn has a lot to face back in Portage. Her father is in hospital and not doing himself any favours with his bad diet and stubborn behaviour. Meanwhile, his business, the Roadhouse, seems to have gone downhill, and his ice-hockey team, the Portage Panthers, is struggling. Robyn arrives on the scene and begins to take charge of everything, determined to turn around the fortunes of all of them.

However, she has to deal with Nancy, Eddie's new fiancee, and with Brad, her ex-boyfriend, who still holds a torch for her. It's clear there are more serious demons in Robyn's past that are linked to this town too, an awful event that still haunts her dreams, and which she will have to confront all over again. Despite all these challenges, Robyn is glad to be back home: '...despite the mixed feelings she had for the town, the feeling that overrode all the others was longing. Her dad getting ill had somehow given her the courage to return. It was a reason she had long been looking for.'

Cole has his own issues to deal with, the heartache he has endured at the hands of his ex partner Veronica and his brother. He has been deeply hurt and isn't looking to get romantically involved again anytime soon, intending to be single for a while and concentrate on his work projects. He works as a scientist, and he is also a talented ice-hockey player, joining the Portage team and beginning to get to know Robyn better.

There is a lovely, instant attraction between Robyn and Cole, and a real chemistry. It's a joy to see how the relationship between them develops, how it gives them both a renewed lust for life and love. In Robyn's case:

'She wanted the way she felt for him to be what she had been too scared to look for. She wanted to be free from everything she'd been before. She wanted a new start and she wanted to share that with him.'

This new love changes Cole too: 'He felt invigorated. He felt alive...They shared an undeniable connection.'

This is a really enjoyable and likeable romantic novel from Mandy Baggot, with two great lead characters, and some lovely light-hearted humour as well as a much more serious sub-plot. I raced through it, devouring the story, wanting to know the outcome. I did guess at what had happened in the past but this didn't affect my curiosity to have this confirmed later in the story. The dialogue flows easily and naturally, and I think Robyn and Cole are both very likeable, rounded characters. I admired Robyn and her achievements, her fierce determination to get things done, and done well, and her independence. She has come through a difficult, unhappy childhood, and she is confident and straight-talking, but she is also vulnerable. Cole is a tall, dark and handsome leading man; he is strong and sensitive, with his own vulnerabilities.

A highly recommended romantic read! I look forward to reading more books by this author.
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