What is this about?: Amanda Grace was kidnapped and held captive for 738 days. There was a poster of an actor in the room where she was held, Chase, and she imagined Chase, the character he played there in the room with her, urging her to be strong. To survive. And she did. Then the real Chase lumbers into her life in an effort to rescue his flagging acting career.
What else is this about?: I’m disappointed that the book rushed towards a romance because away from that, these characters were marvellous. There’s so much more about how they reacted to one another, about each of their hard lines in terms of emotional and physical intimacy that could have been explored. It’s like being given a taste, and finding yourself wanting more.
Blurb: At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.
Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.
To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?
This book. This is a story of survival — Amanda’s and Chase’s to an extent.
It’s two years after the abduction described in the blurb and Amanda is nowhere close to being recovered, if one recovers from an ordeal like hers. She still has panic attacks and her family tiptoes around her as if she could break. Her sister Mia though, the youngest in the family, has had enough of tiptoeing around her and tends to have little patience for the the eggshells the rest of her family feel are around Amanda.
Amanda isn’t sure how to fix things — herself or her family. She knows she’s the cause of the tension in the house, and it’s her fault her father can’t look at her. All she can do is carry on best she can, and in some cases, give her family what they want to hear even if it isn’t exactly the truth.
That is until Chase Henry walks into her supermarket job and causes her to have a panic attack. She’s only ever known the actor in her head, the one her imagination created for her to survive her ordeal. That character told her to be strong and to survive. The real one came to see her in public without warning because he wanted a photo op — some good news to stem the flames burning around his career.
Thing is, Chase knows it’s a shitty thing to do and he lets his publicist talk him into the visit. Afterwards, he fires her and goes to visit Amanda to apologise, at which point he finds himself escorting her to his hotel, to a room next to his for an extended set visit. Amanda knows enough to see that he wants good press and she’ll give it to him. To her, this is a matter of making a decision for herself, to take the responsibility for it without her parents or psychiatrist making it for her, or guiding her. The decision is hers. Like it was to listen to her abductor, to believe he had a dog he needed help to find.
From there, the story becomes a wonderful character exploration of these two. Amanda is trying to reclaim her life, but her some scars are a long way from healing. She doesn’t try to hide them with him, and he lets her be fearless in a way her family won’t. She’s stronger than they realise, but they won’t see it.
Chase has his own problems, bad decisions to make up for, and to apologise for. I think that part of him was always there, but it got lost in the desire to be a star. Having almost hit rock bottom is a huge wake up call and having Amanda with him puts his life into perspective.
These are two characters that work wonderfully well together, and part of me thinks this is still a woefully inadequate review because I found myself cheering them on, getting nervous for them and wanting them to make it out the other end of this story intact.
It can’t be a surprise that they do, considering the genre, but therein lies the problem. This is a tough storyline, and the author navigates it with care, proving some wonderful characterisation along the way which left me wanting more. I didn’t need the romance or the sex scenes, they were a sidetrack from the connection these two characters made beyond that. They were also a distraction from the complicated nature of Amanda’s relationship with her family — a relationship that would’ve fed into her relationship with Chase. The idea of romance between them would have been more than enough for an ending here.
738 days is a marvellous, emotional read. It could be so much more without the romance because the characterisation here is just spot on. I know they’re MFEO, but I wanted the journey there to take longer, I guess?