Love Held Captive, by Shelley Shepard Gray

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

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.

First Thoughts:

I’ve read the previous two books about this group of Civil War veterans, so why not finish the series?

My Take:

The final installment of the Lone Star Heroes series begins somewhat confusingly. We’re told that the prologue is set at the Johnson’s Island POW camp in Ohio in 1865, but the events that unfold in it are clearly set in a different place and time. The reason for the discrepancy is eventually made clear, but not before I’d re-read a couple of pages thinking I’d missed something.

The focus of Love Held Captive is how the war changed people. Sometimes they changed for the better, but not always. The former prisoners have been altered by their time on the battlefield and in the prison camp; now they’re trying to find where they fit in this post-war America. When we think of war we tend to think mostly of the men who fought in them, but Lizbeth and Julianne’s brutal experiences remind us that people at home suffered as well. Parts of this book aren’t pretty and veer on the disturbing side as well. I didn’t like the proposed plan the men formed to deal with Bushnell, and I hoped there would be a change of heart before the end. I could understand why they thought they had to do what they did, but I couldn’t agree with it.

If the book had ended with the culmination of their plan I’d have to give low marks to Love Held Captive. Thankfully, the concluding pages redeem it. The actual end takes the reader back to 1865 and the end of the war. The men are questioning why they had to endure such nightmare experiences, much as many of us question why bad things happen. One of them realizes that they, like us, will have to rest in the knowledge that we’ll get all our answers in heaven.

Thank you to Zondervan for my complimentary electronic copy of Love Held Captive, which I downloaded for my honest review.

Have you read Love Held Captive? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 10 October 2017

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Zondervan’s Website   Shelley Shepard Gray’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million


An Uncommon Protector, by Shelley Shepard Gray

Publisher’s Overview:

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

First Thoughts:

This is the second of the Lone Star Hero Love Stories series by Shelley Shepard Gray. Since I didn’t immediately recognize Thomas Baker’s name, I wondered if any of the characters from The Loyal Heart would feature in it.

My Take:

Laurel Tracey is in a bind. She’s inherited her father’s ranch, but there’s no one to assist her other than her obnoxious step-siblings. They’ve long squandered their own inheritance and now want what doesn’t legally belong to them. Her persistent neighbor doesn’t believe she can manage the land, but hasn’t taken well her rejection of his courtship. So, she takes a leap of faith and hires Thomas who is determined to discover who’s threatening her. And he happens to have friends who can help.

An Uncommon Protector takes place shortly after the events in The Loyal Heart, the first book in the Lone Star Hero Love Stories series. As with that book, this novel opens with a scene on Johnson’s Island during the Civil War. There are also frequent flashbacks to Thomas’s time at the POW camp. I found it an easy read and worked out the villain’s identity almost immediately, although I did have a backup suspect in case I was wrong! Although the heroes ride away in the sunset at the end, there are hints of possible stories to come in the series and it looks like we only have to wait until October to learn what those stories are.

Thank you to Zondervan, BookLook Bloggers, and the Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of An Uncommon Protector, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read An Uncommon Protector? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Zondervan (A division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 07 February 2017

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Shelley Shepard Gray’s Website   Zondervan’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas, by Erica Vetsch

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Journey now to Fort Bliss in West Texas of 1874, where…
A Battle Is About to be Waged Between Two Hearts.

Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has a grudge against the army that has ruined her family and taken the people she holds most dear. When her twin niece and nephew are left orphaned at Fort Bliss, Texas, she swoops down on Fort Bliss to gain custody of them immediately.

There is just one thing standing in the way—Post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who is also the twins uncle, also claims the children and thinks he knows what is best for them.

Priscilla and Elliot will cross swords, but each will have to lay down arms if they are to find a lasting peace on which to form the family both are longing for.  Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?

First Thoughts:

Sometimes, I just want to get lost in an historical romance…

My Take:

Barbour Publishing has started a new line of historical romance fiction called My Heart Belongs focusing on different locations in the USA.  In January, it started with Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetsch. Priscilla is the ‘fish out of water’ stylish city woman who is completely unprepared for life on the frontier. She has one plan: to get to Fort Bliss, gain custody of her family, and then immediately take them home to civilization. The children might be loved at Fort Bliss but, as far as Priscilla is concerned, a military environment is no place for a child. Her plan takes a slight detour, however, when she’s attracted to the Major in the Military Corps who happens to be the children’s uncle.

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas is a cute story that’s easy to read. While it’s mostly light, there are serious times such as interactions with local Indian populations and the spread of disease throughout the fort. The physical descriptions were so good I could visualize everything. During the course of the novel, Priscilla must continuously step out of her comfort zone and, as she does so, she gradually comes to realize that home really is where the heart is.

Thank you to Barbour Publishing for my complimentary electronic copy of My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas, which I downloaded from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Barbour Publishing

Publication Date: 01 January 2017

Page Count: 256

Read more on:   Erica Vetsch’s Website   Barbour Publishing’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million