Spoiler-Free Review: Taken & Given - D.J. Umber

Hello everyone!
Last year, I got to beta read and read the final copy of Taken & Given provided and written by D.J. Umber. Thank you so much for sending me this book!

Title: Taken & Given (Ancient Conflicts #1)
Author: D.J. Umber
Published by: DJ Umber Books
Pages: 260 | Publication date: April 11th 2017
ISBN: 9780692871393
Synopsis:
When Julia swears revenge, she has no idea the price it will carry. 
Northern Italy, 133 BC - At sunrise Julia's life consisted of friends, family and keeping the identity of her lover a secret. By nightfall, it had all been torn from her. Tribal raiders burn her home to the ground and force her into chains as a slave. As the tribesmen take her and the other captives north beyond the mountains, she offers the gods what little she has left - even her flesh - in exchange for revenge. 
But the heart is not so easily controlled. She soon finds herself at the mercy of Saxa, an innocent young woman whose mischievous charm she can barely resist. But as the bond between them grows, she discovers who the young woman really is – sister to the same ruthless warlord who murdered her friends and family. The situation comes to a head and Julia must choose; Saxa or revenge for her family. 
Meanwhile, a young nobleman refuses to accept things as they are, and begins a desperate plot to have the captives brought home, no matter the price.



I must say I truly LOVED this book. I’m such a fan of Historical Fiction but I was skeptical once I learned that it took place in 133 BC, in the Roman Republic. I’ve never read something similar, so I was a bit doubtful but this one proved me totally wrong

I'll be honest: it took me little time to relate to the characters, especially Julia. She’s such a strong character, while in other way she’s really vulnerable and looking to replace her younger sister, and for me that’s why her relationship with Saxa clicked so fast, and also because of the Stockholm syndrome. While I can admit that it was there and it can be a problem, the main characters' relationship develops to more than the syndrome, and I really liked seeing their dynamic

Even though Julia and Siegfried’s relationship is far from perfect, I found myself caring for them, and rooting for their relationship. I would love to see their relationship develop, in different circumstances obviously, in a possible sequel. 

I also enjoyed the multiple POVs, especially Julia and Gaius’ since they were connected and didn’t know it yet, which created this intriguing and surprising atmosphere.

“The fighting had ended but for the captives, the struggle had only begun.”


The writing is on point – not to poetic or even dragging – so the scenes take their own pace and go on smoothly. The romance is well done, even though it makes me sad to see Julia being treated sometimes poorly by Siegfried, and I really want to see what happens next in their relationship and in the plot. 

Regarding the plot, it's also well developed. It takes its own pace and there isn't too much focus on the romantic relationships, which can deteriorate a story. It’s a political story, and the author doesn’t sugarcoat it and that’s an amazing asset.

The ending was one of the key moments for me. I completely didn’t see that coming, and almost felt sorry for the character that it happened to. It was such a good move by the author, and it just added to my wishing that we had a sequel already promised.  

To conclude, this novel was a big surprise for me and  kept me hooked from the very first page. I wish more  people knew about it since it's such a compelling story. The writing is gorgeous, without being too poetic and repetitive and the characters are super relatable. The time and space setting are also an asset and completed the atmosphere of Historical Fiction. 

What about you? Have you read Taken & Given? If so, share your thoughts! If not, do you plan to pick it up? 

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