Gone by Elisabeth Naughton

Gone by Elisabeth NaughtonGone by Elisabeth Naughton
Series: Deadly Secrets #2
Published by Montlake Romance on January 10th 2017
Pages: 303
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Three years ago, Alec and Raegan Devereaux lived every parent’s worst nightmare: their one-year-old daughter, Emma, was abducted from a park when Alec turned his back for just a moment. Emma was never found, and presumed dead. The crushing trauma, plus Alec’s unbearable guilt, ended the couple’s marriage.
Now a four-year-old girl matching Emma’s profile is found wandering a local park. Alec and Raegan are heartbroken to discover she’s not their daughter but are newly motivated to find closure…and each secretly feels desperate to be in the other’s presence again.
Alec suspects his vengeful biological father is behind Emma’s disappearance. But as Raegan investigates other abductions in the area, she sees a pattern—and begins to wonder if Emma’s kidnapping is actually linked to something more sinister.
As Alec and Raegan race to uncover the truth, a long-burning spark rekindles into smoldering passion, and they realize they need each other now more than ever.

Alex McClane struggles with more than disappointing his wife and family; he also battles a severe drinking addiction and the notion that his erratic, violent behaviour might be genetically inherited from a man whom he calls his biological father. This much—along with the overwhelming guilt—bring him to end a short-lived marriage that died when his daughter goes missing. Three years later, he isn’t in a better place until a call from the FBI brings his ex-wife back into his life, who incidentally, seems to be compiling research on child-abductions that indicate their daughter’s disappearance is anything but a coincidence.

I’d always wondered how Elisabeth Naughton was going to continue the ‘Dearly Secrets’ series, and ‘Gone’ seemed to be a good indication that the books would be about the adopted family members of the McClane family, with Alex’s story being the second book—and completely unrelated to his brother’s one. It works well as a standalone and quite possibly lies on a trigger fault-line for some as it deals with child abduction and addiction and the devastating effect it could have on a marriage.

The protagonists were clearly flawed in some ways that left narrative space for character growth: Alex’s constant denial and guilt—which devolve into self-pity after a while—destroying people and relationships around him, while Reagen seemed to be a bit of a spineless twit and a damsel in distress from the start (admirable as her determination not to believe her daughter is dead) as she pined for a man who’d not only walked cruelly away from her but also called for the divorce as he sought comfort in alcohol. It eventually did get better though, with some twists that hinted at a bigger conspiracy which still stretched my ability to suspend disbelief even as the plot trundled along from time to time.

‘Gone’ is a decent read nonetheless, and I’d be interested in knowing who’s (or what’s) next in this series.