It may be a bit telling that when I looked at Goodreads to refresh myself on the book, I spent a solid minute trying to figure out who was who in the description, because I was so lost by the names.

That’s perhaps a negative way to start a review, so I’ll encourage you to read everything in the review before making your assumptions about what I got from the book.

It’s not that I didn’t like the book. I did! There’s a good idea in here. Jackie is the wife of a controlling jerk named Mitch, who has shaped her to be “perfect,” to be exactly what he wants in a woman–and now he’s bored with her. So despite her getting abducted, when he’s called to pay ransom for Jackie–he denies them, content to stay with his mistress. Which leaves Jackie in a bind–literally–with James and his two sons, who were desperate for the ransom and aren’t sure what to do now that they have a captured woman.

I like the premise immensely. I’ve always been intrigued by Stockholm syndrome style stories, and this seemed like a good option for it.  So when the author was looking for reviewers and readers, I jumped at the chance. I want to say straight out that I don’t regret that. It’s an interesting story and I like the characters. But it’s missing something to make it truly good.

For the first book in a trilogy, I feel like the character development happens far too quickly. Jackie’s shift makes more sense to me (again, Stockholm), but the way that James and Mitch change through the course of the book seems incredibly abrupt and strange. There doesn’t seem to be much impetus for either of them; they just shift because the narrative decided they should–which is never a good idea. If it doesn’t feel organic, it breaks the reader’s suspension of disbelief.

Also, James and his boys have at least two sets of names, something I struggle with in books all too often. They have the names we are introduced to them with, and then a second set are introduced–and we never hear the original ones again. I had an incredibly difficult time remembering who was who, as I’d just learned their names when it switched. James was easier, as he was the only adult male.

The final trouble I had – and this might clear up if I read the rest of the series – was that this book just…ended. I understand that this is meant to be the first part of a story, but I’m not sure it stands up as a story in and of itself. It felt like I’d only just hit the stride of the action when the book was over. Now, as I mentioned, it’s possible that there’s something more in the other two books that warrants this, but I’m only judging this particular book, as it stands alone.

Overall, I’m still interested in seeing the second and third books in the trilogy. I want to know how it all wraps up with the characters, and where it all finishes. It finishes solidly in my rating system, and I’m not sure what else to say about it. If you can pick up the whole trilogy at once for a decent price, I’d say do it and read it all at once. I’d hope it works better that way.

Rating: *** (Worth a Look)


One thought on “BOOK REVIEW: IN EXCHANGE FOR JACKIE by Tracy Gilmore

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