“As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.” – Antisthenes
“That's why crazy people are so dangerous. You think they're nice until they're chaining you up in the garage.” -- Michael Buckley, The Fairy-Tale Detectives
“A new audit of the California foster care system has revealed that over 1,000 foster home addresses match those of registered sex offenders, according to the Los Angeles Times. It seems that child welfare official failed to compare the addresses even after they were told to do so in 2008. According to the Sacramento Bee, about 600 of the highlighted offenders were considered high risk.” -- The Huffington Post - By Dean Praetorius, 1,000 California Foster Care Homes Match Sex Offender Addresses: Report
Her name is Marissa Preston. Nine years old. Blond and blue. Her mother is frantic to find her, and Detectives Jaden Black and Cameron Olsen know that, if they don’t find her soon, the worst will happen. But the worst quickly becomes even more horrific. For Marissa isn’t alone in her dark and painful place. There is another little girl with her, in a dark and terrifying basement. Emily Knight looks enough like Marissa to be her twin, and she too is missing. Finding these little girls is urgent if they are to live.
Of course, Cameron and Jaden have a secret weapon – Jaden is the most powerful telepath in the Toronto PD. She may be the most power telepath anywhere – and she has just found Emily Knight’s mind.
““She’s being held captive by a man. She thinks a new girl who joined her looks like Marissa. So there’s a chance she might be alive. The girl also said there were others, but they’ve all gone.”
There. Were. Others. Those words hit Cameron like a sledgehammer to the heart. This isn’t just a single kidnapping, or even two. There. Were. Others. And as Jayden and Cameron begin to dig, the picture becomes darker and darker, until the sheer evil of the tale reveals itself in a horrifying miasma that stretches long into the past.
“Missing and unsolved, all in the last three-and-a-half years. Six girls, including Emily. Why the heck has no one noticed?”
Easily explained, with a bit of research. Six little girls, all six to nine, all blond haired, pretty and fragile. All, in one way or the other, have been involved in the foster system. A foster system broken and criminally mismanaged, a system which ignores repeated reports of sexual and physical abuse – of the deaths of children in their care.
According to a report published in 2005 by Rick Toma, “A Critical Look At The Foster Care System”:
“. . . in nearly half the states (studied), cases take years to come to completion as agencies repeatedly fail to investigate abuse reports in a timely fashion, find permanent homes for children, or even keep track of those children under their care and custody.” -- Fred Bayles and Sharon Cohen, "Chaos Often the Only Parent for Abused or Neglected Children," Associated Press as reported in Los Angeles Times, (April 30, 1995)
Just one case of thousands:
“. . . case involved a nine-year-old boy who weighed only 28 lbs., and who could hardly speak after the suicides of his parents. County social workers failed to visit him in his foster home for four months. During that time, he was beaten, sodomized, burned on his genitals and nearly drowned by his foster parents. He became a spastic paraplegic.” Margot Hornblower, "Fixing the System," TIME Magazine, (December 11, 1995).
I used to think this sort of abuse was more prevalent in the US. Surely those nice Canadians didn’t wallow in the kind of monstrous mismanagement we suffer here? Apparently, this isn’t the case. You see, three of these little girls had been moved through a single foster placement – and all six had, at one point or the other, been shuffled through other homes in the system. And the terrors these children suffered . . .
“Duty, Honor, Love” is a brutal tale of the kind of sadistic treatment children are routinely subjected to in the foster system told through a story of psychopaths, pedophiles, and the people who are left to clean up the mess. This is a fast paced tale of suspense that kept me turning pages on my reader so fast I nearly set my fingers on fire. But Marissa and Emily’s story isn’t the only tragedy involved in this narration – for there are other monsters trolling the darkness – and one of them is after Jaden.
Parts of this book I absolutely adored in a heartrending, mind crushing sort of way. There is the truly excellent tale of pedophiles and stalkers, of the police who work tirelessly to capture them, and a foster system that allows the horrors to occur over and over again, ignoring report after report of child abuse in foster homes. But there is also a very heavy sexual storyline that, in my opinion, lowered the overall tone of the storyline. There is M/M, M/F, and M/M/F action in the book, which is perfectly fine in the right setting. Hey, I can get into erotica just as well as the next person. Here, however, it ate up too much of the storyline and detracted from the very important writing that the author accomplished, leaving me dissatisfied with the overall tone of the book. The sex scenes could have been paired down to a couple and been an enhancement to the overall story. However, a good third of the book was down to sex. I like spicy – but not so much that it debases the narrative.
I still highly recommend the book. As I said, it kept me turning pages at a blistering pace to see what happened next. It will stay on my reader, and I will be looking forward to more from Angela S. Stone. 3.5 stars – one star dropped for the disconnect between great suspense and too heavy a hand with the erotica. A half-star down for poor editing I couldn’t ignore. I just hope she can find the line between writing erotica and writing a solid novel with an important story line.
“Duty, Honor, Love” came to me from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please click here and click “Like”. It helps my authors to draw attention to their books through my reviews. Thank you!