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review 2018-06-17 23:23
Flesh Cartel, Season 3: Transformation, Episode #7: Homecoming
The Flesh Cartel #7: Homecoming (The Flesh Cartel Season 3: Transformation) - Heidi Belleau,Rachel Haimowitz

Good heavens...this is such a mixture of...

 

 

and

 

 

And how everything can change with the utterance of just one word...

 

”Hole.”

 

I’m so in love with all these characters and yet still feel so mentally and physically violated at the same time. 

 

Just wow. Can’t wait for more. 

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review 2018-06-16 19:37
The Star Witness - Andy Hamilton
(note: the Andy Hamilton who wrote this novel is NOT the person described in the author profile … is there a way for Booklikes to differentiate between multiple authors who happen to have the same name)? THIS is the Andy Hamilton who authored "The Star Witness"
 
I've been a longtime fan of Andy Hamilton via his BBC Radio shows "Old Harry's Game" and "Revolting People", plus very fond memories of catching a few episodes of "Drop the Dead Donkey" on TV long ago. So was happy to discover that he'd written a novel and was eager to read it.
And now I'm eager to read any other novel Andy Hamilton cares to write. "The Star Witness" wasn't anything like his radio shows (which are hilarious with deeply insightful serious underlayers) not that I expected that of him … the man's too versatile to just do the same thing over and over. Instead this work had the serious front and centre with moments of snark and self-deprecating and defensive humour from the main character … a quieter form of comedy interwoven into an larger fabric of a man whose going-through-the-motions life is suddenly turned upside-down and inside-out, and how this this upheaval at first flattens him into apathy and then slowly changes him for the better. We hope. There's an ambiguous at-a-crossroads ending and good on Mr. Hamilton for doing that because, really, I like books that don't spoonfeed me all the answers and instead leave things open for speculation and interpretation.
Definitely have to re-read this with knowledge of that ending because I know it's going to change a lot of my perceptions from the first in-ignorance reading.
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review 2018-06-16 14:12
Flesh Cartel, Season 2: Fragmentation, Episode #6: Brotherhood
The Flesh Cartel #6: Brotherhood (The Flesh Cartel Season 2: Fragmentation) - Heidi Belleau, 'Rachel Haimowitz'

Good gawd. This was painful. So so painful. 

 

And yet I cannot look away. I cannot stop. I cannot give up HOPE. 

 

 

The manipulation is pure genius. Not only between the brothers but to the reader as well. 

 

 

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review 2018-06-16 09:36
Love Held Captive (Lone Star #3) by Shelley Shepard Gray
Love Held Captive (A Lone Star Hero’s Love Story) - Shelley Shepard Gray

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget. Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war. When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novel addresses the topic of rape. 

 

 

During the Civil War, Major Ethan Kelly and his men were pushed to do many things they weren't proud of, but did it they did in the name of survival. One regular unsavory task was raiding the homes of innocent people for supplies to help keep the troops alive. Lizbeth Barclay's home was one of the properties raided by Kelly and his men. Unbeknownst to him, prior to his arrival she had not only suffered the deaths of her family members but also a sexual attack and mutilation by another soldier. 

 

Years later, Kelly and Barclay cross paths once again --- he as a hotel guest, she one of the hotel housekeepers. Though they don't immediately remember their past interaction, Major Kelly's memory is jarred when he sees the long scar running down the side of Lizbeth's face, a scar he never forgot even if he and Lizbeth never got on a first name basis the first time around. 

 

Kelly's friend and military comrade, Captain Devin Monroe develops an acquaintance with Julianne Van Fleet that, on his end, quickly grows into an honest love for her. But when she reveals her own story of some of the unpopular methods she resorted to to survive the war and care for her ailing grandmother, Devin struggles to make peace with it all. He questions whether he can make a life with someone with such a past. Though he's tempted to walk away at first, with some time to consider he realizes Julianne's actions were no worse than any men he served with who were similarly driven to survive. Devin once again comes to Julianne wanting to offer her a chance at a life rich in love, respect, and fidelity. But before the couple's dreams can take flight, their plans are stalled with the threat of former Army acquaintance Colonel Adam Bushnell.

 

When Devin and Ethan and their ladies all come together to share their stories of struggle, they find one common denominator among all of them: Bushnell. At different times, Bushnell terrorized both Lizbeth and Julianne. Devin and Ethan further reveal that these ladies weren't his only victims, not by a longshot. His face scarred by smallpox and hard living, Bushnell likely got in the habit of assaulting women rather than wooing them because his low self-esteem convinced him women would never give him the time of day otherwise. Determined to put a stop to Bushnell's assaults, the men rally the troops (as in, calling in even more Army buddies) to hunt the man down.

 

In addition to the duel romance stories going on here, as well as the manhunt scenes, this novel, like its two predecessors within this series, includes chapters detailing the mens' experiences in a Civil War POW camp, giving the reader an idea of how those months & years of imprisonment reshaped their spirits, inevitably changing them forever. 

 

I'm just going to say it: This book had the worst title of the series. Get beyond the title though, and Love Held Captive (man, that title gives me hard cringe though -- just screams bodice-ripper) is actually the BEST story in the trilogy IMO.  While the previous two books were enjoyable but, if I'm being honest, a little on the forgettable side, this one came alive with much more real characters full of humor, honesty and depth. Julianne's story really inspires empathy in a reader, making one think on maybe not be so quick to judge someone living life in a way that doesn't line up with how we would do things. Take time to consider the limited options they might be forced to choose from.

 

Bushnell is just the right amount of despicable without becoming cartoonish and Major Kelly and Capt. Monroe are just good solid dudes. Especially Devin. Major Kelly, coming from a privileged background and well-to-do family, can come of as slightly snobbish from time to time, but Devin is quick to set him straight and Kelly is open to learn when he oversteps. Lizbeth was a bit overdramatic for me at times, and though she never became one of my favorite characters (I'm too busy shipping Devin & Julianne!), she did grow on me a little by story's end.

 

So there you go! If you, like me, found the first couple books in this series fun enough but maybe a litle flat, don't duck out just yet! Definitely get into this one because the Lone Star series, at least as I see it, is one where author Shelley Shepard Gray left the best for last! 

 

FTC DISCLAIMER:  TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

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review 2018-06-14 13:50
Flesh Cartel, Season 2: Fragmentation, Episode 4: Consequences
The Flesh Cartel #4: Consequences (The Flesh Cartel Season 2: Fragmentation) - Rachel Haimowitz,Heidi Belleau

Think of your master’s body as a shrine at which he deigns you worthy enough to worship. You will not always be so privileged. But when you are, you must never forget what an honor you’ve been given—or that you’re bowing before a god who must be pleased.”

 

My gawd. I’m strangely aroused. The mind fuck happening here is rather heartbreaking. But the pleasure teachings more than made up for it. I’m dying to know where this goes and how Nik handles this challenge.

 

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