― F. Scott Fitzgerald
Could a pair of tattoos ignite a passionate romance?
Technical analyst Garrett Jones lives a solitary life. Occasionally, he must venture into the outside world to get what he needs. On one such occasion, he finds himself at a local tattoo shop getting inked for the first time with a semi-colon as a reminder of his past--a past he cannot allow himself to forget.
Fun-loving and outspoken Dev Hemingway is a social worker for a local LGBTQ shelter. He’s covered in tatts, has long hair, and though most people think he belongs on a Harley, he prefers his Venom electric scooter. He’s adding a semi-colon to his tattoo repertoire to mark eight years since his mental health diagnosis.
Though they start seeing each other casually, Garrett and Dev’s relationship soon deepens into something more than either one could have prepared for. But will the illness that brought them together ultimately be the one to tear them apart? Could this be the end of their story, or is there still too much left unfinished?
A well told love story where opposites attract. Garret, the introvert and Dev, the extrovert. I like how this difference between got as much time and Dev's mental health and the trigger it is for Garret given his history.
This book takes takes it time and we get to see a loving relationship bloom and a lot of personal healing and growth.
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.
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.
Guy on cover appears to have a face made of silly putty. I'm supposed to find that appealing?!
I liked the kid, and I sortof liked the H. Felt bad for the h's situation but felt mostly impatient with her.
Apparently when she was a teen, she caught the eye of the town catch and let him sweep her off her feet. She was ok with this because he was rich. That he was a douchebag, she didn't bother to figure out until after vows were exchanged. A kid was added to this mess because reasons. Then she decided she'd had enough and divorced him. Now, because he's rich, and his father uses his money to make her life miserable, she's decided money is the root of all evil. Reading between the lines, it's *other* people's money.
H's age is not given, but he's built his construction company to the point it's big - really big. His attempts at dating have not been successful due to his having money - women want it more than him. So he doesn't tell the h at first. And he continues not telling her because at least once every conversation, she makes some dig about rich people. I didn't much like his deception, but under the circumstances...
The kid...was a pawn. His grandparents and father used him to control the h.
Generally speaking, I usually pass on books where a woman disguises herself as a man in order to achieve her goals because most of the time they are so fantastically far-fetched that I end up with headaches from rolling my eyes in disbelief so much. Not here, not with Libby. She was such a unique woman to begin with that pretending to be anything but a woman of the ton wasn’t hard to believe. She was both endearing and sensual and her oddities make her a refreshing, different character, setting her apart from other bluestockings. As a matter of fact, Libby is on a whole other level of heroine archetype all by herself.
Ziyaeddin became captivated by Elizabeth when they first met so when she asked for his help he knew there would be trouble ahead. In spite of their obvious attraction, he tries to keep their relationship as distant as possible, not only because he knows his future is yet to be determined but because he knows of her dreams and doesn’t want to be in the way of them (if that’s not sexy I don’t know what is.) All that sexual tension was just as frustrating for the characters as it was for me as a reader! Yet what I loved the most about his character was that his always cool demeanor was able to reel Libby’s mind back in from the chaos it sometimes was proving once more that a man doesn’t have to be dominant or possessive to be the perfect hero.
Secondary characters were a true delight. They all added that perfect touch of variety to keep the story moving, and the fact that both Libby and Ziyaeddin had overcome many of their initial fears made the story even more memorable. And that epilogue! I don’t think I’ve ever read one full of so many emotions and feelings. With a heart-melting, enthralling storyline; complex and larger-than-life characters; and the perfect history backdrop this book is for sure an instant re-read.
**I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.**
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