Unchained Memories by Dena BlakeUnchained Memories by Dena Blake is a story about overcoming life-altering events, opening your heart to loving someone despite all the odds being stacked against the blossoming romance and learning important lessons from past mistakes.

A traumatic crime marred Jillian McIntyre’s youth and she was torn away from her home in Oklahoma to live with relatives in another state. Jillian has no choice but to return to her former hometown in Oklahoma after her sister’s death to locate her niece’s father, and unfortunately, neither her niece nor the child’s father knows about each other’s existence. She has to hide her identity in order to accomplish this task.

Amelia Mathews shuns anything to do with intimacy after a past hurt that has stayed with her throughout the years. She is a lawyer and an advocate for abused and ill-treated children. She loves the work that she does with her brother as they both assist families in need. An unknown woman and her niece enter their small town in Oklahoma and Amelia gives them assistance. However, she becomes attached to the woman and the child. There was no way she had planned for this to happen and Amelia battles her conflicting feelings, and she isn’t the only one struggling. For Jillian, there is more at stake than her heart. Jillian has to make many critical decisions for herself and her niece, but can Jillian risk everything she has achieved in life to take another chance at rekindling a love she once left behind?

The Characters

At first, I really did not like Jillian’s selfish attitude. However, as I continued to read I discovered many interesting layers to her personality. I adored her strength and determination. She thrived and succeeded in life despite the harrowing circumstances that occurred in her youth. I just love the way Jillian always tries to do right by anyone who has touched her life in some way.

Abby holds a special place in my heart because she is a young girl who is on the brink of adulthood and she is at a stage of intense vulnerability and rebelliousness. She has been through so much and yet she still pushes on to adapt to any new changes in her life.

To me, Amelia came across as pushy and insensitive at first but the deeper I got into the story, I realized I couldn’t be more wrong about her. She has a big heart that’s hidden under layers of hurt and loss. I became enamored with Amelia when I realized she had so much love within her and there’s so much more depth to her than what she presents to others within the story.

The Writing Style

The pace of writing was superbly done and I was not left wanting at all. I enjoyed the various twists and turns in the plot as well as the writer’s skillful portrayal of the emotional circumstances that surrounded the main characters.

The Pros

I really loved the way the writer gave me a glimpse into what life might be like for an investigative journalist as well as the hectic pace of life for a lawyer/volunteer. Dena Blake showed all of the positives and negatives that come hand in hand with being in the media profession and the writer did not shy away from the issues volunteers face as they try their best to contribute to society. I enjoyed following the main characters as they struggled through their issues, as these issues brought tremendous character growth that just warmed my heart.

The Cons

My only issue with this story is the fact that it had to end.

The Conclusion

This story had me cycling between lovely romantic scenes to white-knuckle gripping, on the edge of the seat (or in my case, the bed) scenarios. This story had me rooting for a sequel and I can certainly place my stamp of approval on this novel as a must read book.

Excerpt from Unchained Memories by Dena Blake

Now she was right back where she’d started, in her hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. Among people who wouldn’t recognize her the way she was dressed now. No fancy clothes, no high heels, barely a stitch of makeup. Even a new nose. Not a single shred of Jillian McIntyre was left. She was plain old JJ Davis now. Taking on the false persona every time she left New York had been her sister, Jamie’s idea. In a small town like Norman, Jillian knew if she showed up as herself, she might possibly be recognized. JJ Davis, however, went virtually unnoticed. With her thrift store wardrobe and minimal amount of makeup, she blended right in. Right into the woodwork, that is. Changing her look hadn’t been difficult since the accident. Her broken nose had made it much easier, but pulling off a mild-mannered personality was a completely different story.

Jillian McIntyre hadn’t planned to abandon her broadcasting career to move back to Oklahoma, and she hadn’t counted on raising an angry, pubescent teen either. Nevertheless, years ago, when her sister had drawn up her will, she’d made Jillian promise only one thing. If anything ever happened to her and Ken, she was to make sure her niece, Abby, was brought up in a household with two loving parents. Now she had to find one of those loving parents, and this was the only way she knew how to accomplish that.

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9781626399945

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Dena Blake Online 




Note: I received a free review copy of Unchained Memories by Dena Blake. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

About the author

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My name is April Adams and I am an accountant at a civil service office. Even though I read a wide variety of lesbian fiction, I enjoy mystery and thriller books the most because I love the state of suspense the stories have me in until the end and I find out “who’s done it.”