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.

Excerpt

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   Christianbook.com

A Royal Christmas Wedding, by Rachel Hauck

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

It’s been five years since Avery Truitt and Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom fell in love. But he broke her heart with no explanation.

Fast forward to present day, and Colin is Brighton’s most eligible bachelor now that cousin Stephen has married. When Avery’s father dies of a heart attack, she puts her life on hold and returns home to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to help Mama with the family restaurant. But Mama misses Avery’s sister Susanna, who lives four thousand miles away in Brighton Kingdom—and is expecting her first child! So Mama insists she and Avery spend the Christmas season in Brighton.

Colin and Avery are going to see each other a lot while she’s visiting. But she can’t forget the way he hurt her, and he didn’t expect his feelings to still be so strong.

Avery is torn between considering a future in Brighton and taking a coaching job in Georgia, and Colin is finally pushed to pursue what he really wants. Is it too late to convince Avery that she is his true love? And even if he does, will she make it to the chapel on Christmas Day to give him her heart?

First Thoughts:

Hooray for another Rachel Hauck release! Okay, it might only be a novella but it’s another Brighton Kingdom story so I’m happy.

My Take:

Rachel Hauck takes her readers back to Brighton Kingdom one more time for a bonus fairy tale in The Royal Wedding series. The American sister-in-law of King Nathaniel is coming to visit her sister for Christmas. She’s also hoping to avoid her ex, who happens to be the king’s cousin. Her plans lie back in the USA, and coaching volleyball at either high school or university level. Cathedral City at Christmas might be romantic, but Avery doesn’t plan on having any of it while she’s there.

The novella’s prologue contains a heartbreaking tragedy from 1834 when a member of the royal family died while taking part in a century-old tradition. I wanted to know more about it and how it impacted the people involved. But that isn’t the focus of the book and so I knew I probably wouldn’t get many answers. The first chapter, however, took me to one of my favorite places: the Georgia coast. The book counts down to Christmas and details events from balls to fundraisers, including appearances on the popular Madeline and Hyacinth show. The young royals remind me very much of Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.

A Royal Christmas Wedding is very much a fantasy romance. After all, with the exception of Kate Middleton, there aren’t many ordinary women who marry into royalty. There’s also an element of the supernatural: a chapel bell rings when its rope is tied securely to the wall and no one’s touching it. It does help to have read the novels in the series as there are mentions of events from them. This book brings us full circle in the series, focusing on the Truitt sisters and their dreamy royal loves just as Once Upon a Prince did. Finally, there’s a happy ever after epilogue. This is a true Christmas fairytale to warm the heart at any time of year.

Thank you to TNZFiction’s Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding. No review was required.

Have you read A Royal Christmas Wedding? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 18 October 2016

Page Count: 240

Read more on:   Rachel Hauck’s Website   TNZFiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com