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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 2018-06-08 20:51
This novel is about a woman that could not be stopped from achieving success regardless of the obstacles she faced.
Song of a Captive Bird - Jasmin Darznik

Song of a Captive Bird, Jasmin Darznik, author; Mozhan Marnò, narrator

When the author and her family left Iran because of the ongoing unrest, she discovered a book of poems by Forough Farrokzad, among her mother’s belongings. She became fascinated with the poetess who could not be said to have been born either before her time or wished to have been born after it, for even today, her place in time has not yet arrived. Yet her place in Iran’s history was and still is profound. She was a woman who found her voice, although the powers that be tried to silence her, and she was alternately praised or condemned for making it heard. Forough wrote poetry in Iran at a time when women did not write poetry or even work outside the home. Women, even before the Islamists took control, had little power of their own.

As the reader becomes drawn into the story, it will be hard to believe that it is a novel or that it is historic fiction, because the author, Jasmin Darznik, has imbued the character with a personality that is believable, that makes the character very authentic. I could not tell where the real and imagined parted ways. She gave Forough all the wisdom, strength and courage she needed in order to become the defiant young woman who affected so many lives in Iran, many positively, and some, even negatively. Although the story only covers about a decade and a half of Forough’s life, from her mid teens to her early thirties, it feels like it covers far more of the history of Iran since so much other information is imparted by the author with historical facts and through the inserted verses of Forough’s poetry. At the time of Farrokhzad’s life and even more so today, the men made the decisions and controlled the rules that governed the lives of women. They could be seen, but basically, not heard. Their opinions were not considered. Once the Islamists came to power and the Ayatollah became the supreme ruler, the women became even more unimportant; they became invisible, shrouded and silent.

Iran was a country that other countries wanted because of ifs oil. The United States had wanted that oil and had basically established rule in Iran. Under the Shah, there were seeds of unrest budding and blooming. There were Iranians who believed that the oil was theirs, and they wanted to control their own country. They resented the relationship that the Shah had with the West, the control the West had over their country’s economy, and the clash of the cultures which they found degrading to their own and to their women. There were even some Iranians who wanted to return to the traditional ways of Islam, the ways which gave women even less freedom, which demanded that they be covered and silent, completely divorced from having any influence on society.

Forough was just a teenager when her heart was stolen by a young man, just over a decade older than she was. He liked poetry and was the one who inspired her in that direction. When her mother discovered their secret relationship, she forced her to submit to a virginity test, which, although it proved she was a virgin, also accidentally stole her virginity from her. In the eyes of any observer, she would be tainted, since no blood could be shed on her wedding night. She had squirmed and the tool being used unfortunately slipped. She never revealed the truth, although she knew it, because she knew no one would believe her. However, that slip of the knife foretold the future tragedies in her life.

Forough was defiant and did not obey the mores of the times. She wrote poetry described often as risqué; she traveled alone and dressed immodestly at times. She had affairs of the heart which were shameful, at the time, and tongues wagged and unmercifully condemned her. Unscrupulous people, her father and husband among them, had her confined to an asylum when she refused to stop writing or to change her ways and return to her child, husband and his family. In the asylum, on a former beautiful estate, she was subjected to shock treatment and medications she did not need. She was not sick, she was not insane. She was only hungry for her own independence.

After she was rescued from the institution by a dear friend, her husband divorced her and obtained complete custody of their child. Her mother-in-law turned her son against her and made him fear her. Although her behavior was unconventional, she was sane. Although her behavior was sometimes promiscuous, she was not a whore, as she was often called. She was, however, someone who wrote her own rules, defied her own culture, and was punished by the behavior of those that disagreed with her. Still, she always knew one thing, she wanted to be free to think for herself, walk about by herself and make her own choices. She wanted her independence and resented her need to be dependent upon others. As she defined alternate mores for women, she was ridiculed and punished by those who had more power than she did and those who wanted more stringent rules. Still, she always seemed to manage to pull herself together and survive.

In her brief lifetime, she became an accomplished poetess, film director, and photographer. However, the fact that she was a paramour in a place that did not accept paramours, colored the perception others had of her. She was a woman out of her time or any other defined time period in Iran, for she would have less freedom, even today, than she had in the nineteen fifties and sixties.

Due to the cloistered nature of Iran, there is not much written about Forough that has survived, except for her poems. The poems reveal her life, as she drew on her own experiences in her verses. Because of her behavior, she lost her reputation, her family and her child. However, her intelligence and sensitivity shone brightly in her writing. Even with little education, she was able to convey her pain, her joy and sadness, and her desire for women’s rights and freedom. Her writing also illustrates the abuse and cruelty she and others suffered during her time of life in a world ruled by men and/or extremists of different stripes. She lived in a world in which a man could have many wives, but a woman could only have her arranged marriage; it was a time in which a man could discard a wife and even have her confined to a prison or insane asylum, simply to get her out of the way. There she would be subjected to cruel attendants, abusive treatments and doctors who also believed women should not have the right to make their own decisions, and there she would be helpless and hopeless. Has that much changed in Iran? I think it may have gotten worse. Do the women want freedom, or are they happy to be shielded from the world? One can only wonder. The one thing the reader will know, in the end, Forough was the mortal bird of the poem.

 

 

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review 2018-05-16 10:00
New Release Review! Dark Captive (Spirit Wild #6) Kate Douglas!
Dark Captive - Kate Douglas

 

 

Stolen from her mother when she was still a tiny cub, the snow leopard Asha has spent her entire life in captivity, being traded from one owner to another through an illegal trafficking ring. But Asha also feels trapped in a much more profound way: as a Chanku with no access to the Tibetan grasses that would allow her to shift, she’s confined to her animal form, yearning for a part of herself she’s forever unable to reach. Until a merciful savior sets her free . . . and Leo Cheval comes into her life.

When word of Asha’s rescue from the animal trafficking ring reaches the Chanku, Leo is sent in to help her recover and bring her into the pack. As a leopard shifter himself, he’s uniquely qualified to connect with her and assess her trauma. What he never anticipated was the overwhelming chemistry their meeting would spark and the deep sensual need she would stir in him.

But even as Leo’s touch guides her body to feelings she never imagined, his deeply ingrained controlling streak threatens to crush the very desire he has awakened. And as their passion grows and a deep bond forms between them, Leo and Asha realize that only by submitting to her can he save them both. 

 

 

 

I just had a very exciting visit with the Chanku! The visit was full of exhilarating suspense, scorching hot passion and sweet romance – a great combination for ever reader.

 

In Dark Captive, I got to visit and enjoy some wonderful intimate moments with all my favorite Chanku and I also got to meet some new members and enjoy some sexy times with them as well. All the Chanku are strong, charismatic characters that easily draw readers in and they always ensure that readers indulge in some blazing hot passion while they easily connect with their readers and of course invite them to visit that intriguing, thrilling and passionate world. I have to warn you though that there was a few times in this visit that I had a hard time suppressing my tears for our new members situation and I also had to suppress my anger at the bad guys because this story certainly caused both emotions as well as causing desire to blossom so hot that I felt the need to fan myself quite often. The story is fast paced with has excitement and suspense building throughout as Leo introduces Asha to her new world as well rescuing others.

 

The Chanku world just continues to grow and become more exciting with every installment and Kate Douglas brings every page of it to exciting and vivid like with well written words that make it easy for readers to become caught up in the lives of the fascinating Chanku. In my case, I have to tell you that not only do I love each and every one of the sexy, charismatic characters but I totally enjoy every visit and I was completely enthralled with Dark Captive and I can’t wait for my next visit to the Spirit Wild world.

 

 

Dark Captive is the 6th book in the Spirit Wild series which includes:

  • Dark Wolf
  • Dark Spirit
  • Dark Moon
  • Dark Refuge
  • Dark Terror
  • Dark Captive

 

The Spirit Wild series picks up where the Wolf Tales series ends.

 

Dark Captive is available in print & ebook at:

Amazon   B&N   GPlay   Kobo  

 

 

 

Website   Goodreads   Facebook   Twitter   BookBub

 

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-25 02:10
Rape, Pedophilia and Abusive relationship
Captive Prince: Volume One - C.S. Pacat,S.U. Pacat

TRIGGER WARNINGS ALERT Stay away from this one if you prefer safe reads. Don't read my review if the word "rape" makes you unconfortable, because I use it a lot, because this book has a lot of that. My review contains spoilers so beware.

description
I don't recommend this if you feel uncomfortable reading about:

Pedophilia Nicasius is only 13 and he's used as a sex slave. The worst is that he is supposed to be willing to be forever a sex slave because the king, his master, gets tired of children when they grow up and Nicasious is eagerly searching for a new master. 

Rape and Sexual violence Damianos the Main character is entered in a slave contest where the loser gets raped. He gets drugged by Laurent "his love interest" so that he'll get weakened and lose the contest and Laurent can watch when Damianos gets raped...publicily!! In this book the court takes rape as a sport. Later Damiano's forced to receive oral sex from another slave to the enjoyment of Laurent. I repeat, Laurent is the "love interest". 

No romance  by the end of the book there's not even a kiss

Stockholm Syndrome Erasmus, A sexual slave, gets raped all the time but he supposedly enjoys being a sex pet and is all grateful when he gets to serve another master because said master treats sex-slaves "better". Sorry but in what sick world a sex-slave enjoys being a slave?How is that romantic or sexy? 

Extreme violence  Laurent, the MC "love interest", is a Prince and he gives orders to whip Damianos. This is vividly described and Damianos spends some time recovering from his injuries. How is that romantic? 

Double standards So Christian Grey gets the sh*t here in GR although he NEVER raped ANA, (although, to be honest he pushed her consent, but NEVER raped her) yet Laurent gets nothing but praise??? So dubious consent, sexual violence, and rape are okay when the characters are male? NO JUST NO!! That's not feminist at all, that's not fair. If the main character had been Princess Damiana everyone and their dog would be screaming murder. "Oh the abusive relationship in romance!" But because the victim is a male then it's okay? How is that fair? 

Unsafe reads This is supposedly a slow-burn-romance between two males, but there's a lot of cheating and disloyalty. [ In the sequel of this rape -fest Laurent who is Damianos owner and master, "lends" Damianos to a group of women warriors so that they can use him for reproductive purposes. Laurent's not even slightly jealous! He laughs with joy when Damianos returns to their tent worn-out from having sex with a lot of women in just one night. Damianos is attracted to Laurent but he is more attracted to women than to males. So we the readers don't get a little bit of cute jealousy and the couple doesn't kiss until way into the second book. 

I'm not the most articulated, coherent reviewer, so I invite you to read these reviews if you want more info on the problematic issues of this book.

Cait's review
Lainey's review

This book makes me angry. The writing is exquisite and clever, but it's the most disgusting portrayal of an M/M relationship. Contrary to what this book portrays, Homosexual Men have healthy, committed relationships . This is not the best book to portray diverse couples, because, as it is, a lot of people think wrongly that homosexuality and bisexuality are against nature and that Bisexuals and Homosexual aren't capable of loving, committed relationships. This book only re-inforces the idea of sexually "degenerated" characters. In real life gay people aren't like this. Not at all.

I gave two stars to the sequel because the graphic rapes aren't present. It's cleverly written and it's addictive, but it's still a harsh read because poor Nicaise. It's not fair what happened to him.

Final note: There are reviewers here in GR who praise this book to no end, and yet get all angry and write rants about romances like Twilight, Hopeless, FSOG, Beautiful disaster and other romance books of the romance genre. At time it feels like some of those reviewers are trying to make the people who enjoy, for example, FSOG bad with themselves because "they are supporting a book that portrays an abusive relationship". Yet they go and praise this very abusive book. 

This isn't about me having a problem with the people who like this book. I think it's okay if people enjoy this kind of books because

* Everyone has different tastes and opinions and all opinions are equally valid. You enjoy this book? That's fine.
* WE ALL ARE SMART! WE ALL KNOW HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE REALITY FROM BOOKS. We all know that In real life rape is wrong. The people who love this book to death aren't supporters of rape, this is just a book. But just like the the captive prince fanbase knows the difference between reality and books, the FSOG fanbase knows better than go and get themselves in abusive relationships because of a book.

My problem is when the double standard comes:Contrary to popular GR belief the people who enjoy books that portray abusive M/F relationships are as smart as the people who enjoys Captive prince. Just saying. 

So anyone who enjoys FSOG or any other bad-reviewed romance, but never says it aloud for fear of how their opinion will make them look in a site like GR where people trash "abusive relationship" books, should say it aloud. Most of FSOG bashers are top reviewers who praise this rape-fest so there's nothing wrong with liking FSOG or any other poorly-reviewed romance. 

If you like me feel unconfortable reading certain topics, ignore most of the 5 star reviews, very few of them mention the problematic issues of this book and most lack trigger warnings. Read some 3 stars reviews and some triggers warnings before deciding if this book is for you or not

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1942116707
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review 2018-03-28 00:00
The Sheikh’s Captive American (Zahkim Sheikhs)
The Sheikh’s Captive American (Zahkim Sheikhs) - Leslie North Their match is written in the stars. Will it be a match made in heaven or hell? Tess and Tarek are from two different world's. He's a sheikh in a foreign land. She's a city girl with a dreamer's heart. When an almost tragedy brings them together, will they allow pride and skepticism to keep them apart? Leslie North takes readers on an adventurous voyage of dangerous temptation, emotional upheaval and heartstopping romance. The Sheikh's Captive American is a winning find.
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