Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
Taken by E.C. Roderick is a fun, well-written historical fiction novel.
In the blink of an eye, a widowed American woman named Sylvie finds herself lost in the woods in the mid-1700s. Still wearing her 21st century garb, she is swiftly captured by a band of British soldiers in the American colonies and held captive as an alleged spy. This is a perilous, traumatic, and frightening predicament!
The most prominent of her captors is Seamus, later known as Leif, who—despite refusing to release her—protects her from being mistreated by the other men and progressively forms a bond with her.
Seamus and the other men quickly realize that Sylvie is no ordinary person. As a physician, Sylvie is able to save one of their comrades from an otherwise fatal gunshot wound using little more than some rum, pliers, and sewing equipment—MacGyver style. She is also able to use the Heimlich maneuver to save a nobleman, and several other such incidences that break the mold for the gender stereotypes of the day and also demonstrate her shocking capabilities.
Sylvie must be brave, courageous, and have her wits about her as she navigates this foreign land and its strange customs in the midst of a massive conflict between France and Britain in the French and Indian War. It is a conflict which involves not only France and Britain but also the American colonies and the Native Americans. Sylvie finds herself smack dab in the middle of it all, seeing many different perspectives, learning all sorts of things, and experiencing the adventure of a lifetime.
This book and this series hold a lot of promise, and are rather entertaining. However, there were a few things that didn't sit 100% well with us. For one, this is yet another Stockholm syndrome romance novel. We've seen so many of this stories that it's cliché at this point. Almost all of these novels excuse the actions of the captor because they have other motivations or are “nice” (relatively) to the victim. Yes, Seamus/Leif had his reasons—they were in the middle of a war with an apparent spy on their hands—but from another perspective, Sylvie has been kidnapped by a band of lecherous men who restrain her rather brutally with some even suggesting they want to sexually assault her.
On one hand, this adds to the trauma and tension. On another hand, it's incredibly uncomfortable to read yet another book that plays with the idea of rape or sexual assault casually. We've read way too many of those and are kinda tired of it.
The other thing we found both strange and funny about this book is that Sylvie, despite being a physician and graduating from Harvard (because of course she did), is actually incredibly dense and dumb. Yes, she can solve medical problems, but outside of that she has the IQ of a rock.
It is absolutely ridiculous yet incredibly funny that Sylvie keeps believing that she's still in the 21st century and that the men who've captured her are actually Revolutionary War reenactors who've involved her in some sort of prank, movie, or social experiment. Seriously, she thinks she's in a movie! Yes, this is kinda cute and funny in a chick-flick or comedy sort of way, but it's also weird as heck and doesn't make Sylvie come across as intelligent at all. It's also hilarious when she sprouts medical and scientific terms and concepts that haven't even been discovered at that point, like when she tells the men to go get Motrin.
She also gives herself away as a spy multiple times by not catching the hint that the way she talks and the way she constantly tries to show off her knowledge only make her look suspicious as heck.
Sylvie is constantly victimized. She's constantly in peril. She's constantly being captured, taken, accused, and nearly sexually assaulted. There's something about that that reminded us of Pirate's Conquest by Charlene Centraccio, both featuring female protagonists who are constantly victimized.
Anyway, though, this all works to an extent. It shows how the patriarchy dominated back then and how women were viewed and treated—to be seen but not heard. Sylvie clearly breaks that.
Something else interesting is that Sylvie actually experiences some of the customs of the time including a three-hour Anglican church sermon that no one in modern times would sit through.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this entire book is the way that the author cleverly handled and portrayed the language of the 18h century.
This is a really worthwhile book if you love historical fiction or fish-out-of-water novels.
Check it out on Amazon!