The author will be giving away prizes as part of the book tour! See the bottom of the post for details about how to win!
Plot Summary: Everything Emma Thompson owns fits in a suitcase she moves from one roach infested motel to another. She and Jake, her five year old son who can see the future, are running from the men intent on taking him. Emma will do anything to protect him even when it means accepting the help of a stranger named Will. Jake insists she needs Will, but Emma’s never needed help before. And even though she’s learned to trust her son, it doesn’t mean she trusts Will.
Mercenary Will Davenport lives in the moment. Hauling Emma to South Dakota should have been an easy job, but his employer neglected to tell him about Emma’s freaky son and the gunmen hot on her trail. Instinct tells him this job is trouble, but nothing can prepare him for Jake’s proclamation that Will is The Chosen One, who must protect Emma from the men hunting her power. A power she doesn’t know she has.
Will protects Emma and Jake on a cross-country chase from the men pursuing them, while struggling with memories from his past, his apprehension of Jake, and his growing attraction to Emma. Will’s overwhelming urge to protect Emma surprises him, especially since it has nothing to do with his paycheck and possibly everything to do with the tattoo Jake branded on his arm. Rich and powerful men are desperate to capture Emma, and Will must discover why before it’s too late.
After reading this book, I’ve decided that I’d personally classify it as a “Paranormal Thriller with Romance Elements,” since it’s a little more descriptive than ”Urban Fantasy,” which is how it was described when I received it. It’s also–surprise! (no surprise)–the first book in a series. Overall, I enjoyed Chosen, and would recommend it to others, though with a couple of reservations.
Denise Grover Swank has started a compelling and immersive storyline with this book. Her characters and their voices stand out: Emma–the sharp, adaptable mother lion–is my favorite, and Will was just irritating enough to get under my skin, though he improved upon acquaintance. I also liked that the author pays attention to motivation; very rarely did one of the characters do something that didn’t make sense. Under intense pressure, they sometimes make the wrong decisions, but they are never wildly out of left field, and fit easily into the continuity of both the story and character development. Chosen is a solid book and an enjoyable (if tense!) read, and readers who enjoy car chases, characters with supernatural abilities, and an exploration of loyalty, betrayal, and loss, will find a lot to like in it.
There were, however, two drawbacks for me. First, I found both Jake’s and Emma’s characters to be somewhat problematic. Emma, despite her portrayal as smart, brave, and tender, seemed to be a character that “things happened to.” She just kept getting new crises dumped in her lap with no chance to be proactive or to really make a difference in her circumstances, and I left the book feeling like she didn’t really have much agency (and this was compounded by the fact that she was the only prominent female character. More women please!) I hope this changes in later books, because I really did like her. For his part, Jake was a confusing character for me. I felt like he wasn’t really convincing as a five-year-old child (with the coping mechanisms, level of engagement with the world, and everything that goes along with that stage of development), special talents or no. Everything seemed to come just a little too easily for him for me to really believe his age. And second, even though Chosen is a Book 1, I was left a bit dissatisfied with the lack of resolution. Every explanation/reveal of part of the mystery led to more questions, the romance sub-plot clearly will continue to develop, and for as many minor victories as the protagonists have, their situation at the end of the book is fairly dire. Chosen wasn’t a long book; if the second in the series, Hunted, is similarly sized, I think I would have preferred reading them together as one book, or as two books packaged as one volume. But, I’m also impatient, so there’s that!
I will also add a couple of content notes, while being as non-spoilery as I can, for subject matter that may be disturbing to some readers. This book contains: gunfights and explosions which result in injury and death, a detailed description of visceral grief and mourning, and a depiction of rape (which didn’t seem gratuitious to me, and was as respectful to the reader and the victim as possible). Those with sensitivities to these subjects may want to proceed with caution.
The Verdict: Chosen is urban fantasy on the “you can run, but you can’t hide” thriller end of the spectrum. For fans of “chosen one/saviour” stories, who want edge-of-your-seat tension with very little reprieve, Denise Grover Swank’s new series will deliver the goods. Don’t expect much resolution in the first book, though; the cliffhanger will keep you coming back for more. I give Chosen 3.75 out of 5 black SUVs, which means one of them won’t have the third row seats or cargo area, so plan accordingly and pack light. Oh, and I’ll also add one “really?”, because in a book that is clearly contemporary, there was NOT ONE “Emma Thompson? Like the actor?” line, from anyone. I was WAITING for it, I tell you!
About the Author: Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning.
You can find out more about Denise and her other books at www.denisegroverswank.com or email her at denisegroverswank at gmail dot com.
If you’re impatient like me, you’ll also be glad to know that books 2 and 3 of Swank’s Chosen series (Hunted and Sacrifice, respectively) are available for purchase, with the fourth book (Redemption) scheduled for release in October.
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. As part of the tour, Denise will give away a digital copy of her paranormal YA novel, Here, to one commenter at each stop and a $50 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour.
Plot Summary for Here: Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before. Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can’t ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.
To enter to win a copy of Here, leave us a comment and let us know what you think of Chosen and my review! To increase your chances of winning the Amazon gift card, visit the other tour stops and leave comments there too! Each tour stop will feature a review of Chosen, so you can see other reviewers’ opinions.
A full list of tour stops may be found at Goddess Fish Promotions.