Love Held Captive (2017) by Shelley Shepard Gray is the third novel in the Lone Star Hero series. This novel will come in all forms including eBook, and is 320 pages in length. This novel is due to be released on October 10, 2017. With a full-time job and a vibrant five-year old, this novel took me three days to read. I received a free review copy of this novel in eBook form from NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this novel 5 STARS. This novel is a Christian Historical Romance. Disclaimer — this novel does delve into heavy topics including rape, physical abuse, and prostitution as a means to survive.
About the Book
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, Daniel 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.
I really enjoyed the characters in this novel so much. They are so well written! The novel is told through the perspectives of four different characters: Ethan, Devin, Lizbeth, and Julianne. Each character has his/her unique struggle and deals with the struggle in very real, emotional, authentic ways. The first story that the reader is introduced to is Ethan’s. Love Held Captive takes place several years after the Civil War. As the reader has learned from the previous two novels, Ethan is part of a Band of Brothers: Phillip (who died during captivity as a POW), Robert, Thomas, and Devin. This band of brothers will do anything for each other. If one man needs help, the other three immediately come to his aid. At the start of this novel, the reader sees Ethan wake from a nightmare. He is plagued by many events that took place during the War, just as any soldier is, but one event haunts him the most: the day he stole everything from a scared, clearly hurt young woman. It just so happens that this woman, Lizbeth, makes a sudden appearance into Ethan’s life. Could this be God’s way of giving Ethan a chance at retribution?
The second story in this novel is Devin’s. Devin is the much-revered Captain who led, and still leads, this noble band of brothers. At the start of this story, Devin is in love. But, where he could lead scores of men into battle with no hesitation, the idea of talking to the girl of his dreams makes him feel like an insignificant school boy. It is incredibly sweet and endearing. In the first two novels, Devin is so intimidating. He’s clearly confident, powerful, and almost untouchable. As I read the first two books, I very much put Devin on a pedestal. He is the very definition of a man’s man. In this final novel, though, Devin is made more real to me. He has issues himself, and he makes some stupid mistakes. As I said above, Devin is in love with a woman — Julianne. He doesn’t know anything about Julianne; his feelings strictly come from seeing her. When he comes face-to-face with her past, he doesn’t like what he hears, and he gets a little arrogant and disappointingly mean (for all of like five seconds…he goes back to being awesome almost immediately). Devin’s initial reaction to Julianne’s past is exceptionally true-to-life. But, he goes to God. He thinks things through. And, then he realizes that holding Julianne to a standard he can’t even uphold is wrong. In my opinion it’s one of the best parts of this novel.
The villain, Daniel Bushnell, is pure evil. He uses his money and power to take advantage of women. He abuses women. He manipulates women. He makes women feel dirty, ashamed, and broken. He is a vile, repugnant man. He is a man perfectly ok with shooting someone in the back. He cares only about himself and what can benefit him no matter the cost to another person. Both Lizbeth and Julianne have suffered at the hands of this man. The crux of this novel is avenging Lizbeth and Julianne, and saving a helpless woman Daniel has just kidnapped. The band of brothers reunite and do save the day! It is, for me, an incredibly satisfying ending to a story. But, I do want to warn anyone with delicate sensibilities. This novel does deal with the effects of rape, forced prostitution, and domestic violence. I feel that Ms. Gray does a very respectful job of dealing with these issues, but these issues are there.
Love Held Captive is an excellent novel. It is a fast-paced, action-filled page turner. I truly could not put this book down. I love the characters in this novel. They are so well written, and they truly are endearing. This novel is intense, and does deal with some harsh realities, but I feel Ms. Gray dealt with these issues respectfully and genuinely. I highly recommend this novel. It is an excellent end to a fantastic series.