Book Review: Stolen Woman

A quick note to my lovely readers before we commence with the review - after the finale of My Imaginary Boyfriend this past weekend, there will be no more Saturday posts for the time being. I'm cutting back to just Tuesday and Thursday regular posts.

Stolen Woman by Kimberly Rae
What would you risk?

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Amazon Summary:
Human Trafficking… Asha knew nothing about it before meeting sixteen-year-old Rani, stolen from her home and forced into prostitution in Kolkata, India. Asha must help this girl escape, but Mark, a third generation missionary, keeps warning her away from the red-light district and its workers. Will she ever discover why? And will they ever stop their intense arguments long enough to admit their even more intense feelings for one another?
When Asha sneaks out one last time in a desperate attempt to rescue her friend, someone follows her through the night. Is freedom possible? Or will she, too, become one of the stolen?
My Thoughts:

Many of you are aware of my recent interest in human trafficking activism. When Kimberly approached me with a request for a review of her book centered on this very real and prevalent modern issue, I jumped at the opportunity. I also used this book as one of the first for my new taking-notes-as-I-read system, which seems to be working out quite well.

My general thoughts of the first nine chapters were mixed. On the one hand, I absolutely adored the setting in India, and the characters each stood on their own feet as individuals I could connect with. However, on the other hand, characters' interactions with each other felt forced or unnatural at times, and many phrases used by certain characters didn't seem to match their ages. There's a lot of info-dumping and formal writing - Kimberly seems to treat contractions more like a journalist than a novelist, which creates a stiff feel sometimes. The story was very sweet and the romance was adorable, but the first nine chapters held nothing about trafficking, which is what the book's supposed to be about. Then, once the story really picks up, two weeks are passed over with a brief summary for the readers. Not fair! In fact, the entire book was very passively written. Far too many "had"s and summarizing, telling rather than showing, that sort of thing. It's aggravating.

Still, the story and setting held my interest well enough to keep me reading in spite of my frustration. The passive and formal style didn't get much better, honestly. I just adjusted to reading it. My notes for the rest of the book after my initial thoughts are basically the same - really sweet story, too much passive writing, etc. Most conflict was skimmed over or resolved without explanation; I'm sure I'd appreciate that approach in real life, but conflict is what makes a story! There's several things the characters are aware of that aren't hinted at to the readers before popping up in the story, which is a bit unsettling. Asha supposedly has a southern accent, but again, that's almost entirely told and never really shown. (Although the scene in the airport where she discovers her accent is worse than she thought was funny.)

Asha acted too much like a child for my taste. I think she was supposed to be a naive, innocent American shocked by the horrors of trafficking. But this is a college-aged girl who's spending several weeks on a mission trip to India. Even I knew better than to act the way she did or assume the things she did half the time. Not to mention, when she does discover trafficking, someone else has to explain what's going on. It's not till near the end when someone else just tells her straight out what could happen does she really understand the danger of trying to rescue her friend by herself. I'm a seventeen-year-old still in high school who has never spent more than ten days in a third-world country, and most of that on an American-own site. If anything, Asha should be more mature than me. Instead, she comes across as an oversheltered thirteen-year-old.

In conclusion, this was a sweet romance that started off with good intentions, but doesn't carry its message as well as it could. Three stars.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are entirely mine alone.


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