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.
Why This Book:
My first attempt at a historical fiction novel was set in early nineteenth century Texas, so the setting of this novel immediately caught my attention. Then the premise of a man falling for the woman whose home he previously raided absolutely hooked me. Guess that’s why they call it a “hook.” 😉
Opening Line (from Chapter 1):
The Menger Hotel San Antonio, Texas
Thursday, October 31, 1867
She never should have had her back to the door.
Above I shared the first line from the first Chapter because I felt it stood stronger as a stand alone sentence than the first sentence of the prologue. However, the prologue takes us through Ethan Kelly’s raid of Lizbeth Barclay’s home. For me, this prologue was the ultimate test of the author’s skill – to make us understand and care for a man raiding the home of an innocent, vulnerable, and clearly traumatized starving young woman. Fail here and I may despise the hero, leaving me no reason to continue reading. (Who wants to read a romance where an innocent woman falls for an evil man and that is the happily ever after?) Well, I am thrilled to report that Shelley Shephard Gray navigated this minefield with success and finesse. By the end of the prologue I may have questions about Ethan’s choices, but I don’t despise him and I want to see him succeed. So I keep reading.
Captain/Major Ethan Kelly – Son of a wealthy family, he has trouble adjusting to normal life after the war.
Lizbeth Barclay – Lost everything in the war – her home, her family, her sense of safety & self worth. Her dreams. When her path reunites with that of Ethan Kelly’s she isn’t living. She’s still just surviving.
Captain Devin Monroe – A loyal friend, and the choosiest man I’ve ever read about, no woman has ever caught his fancy. Till he meets Julianne Van Fleet.
Julianne Van Fleet – Though she never approached the battle field, nor had her home raided, the war has left her with scars nonetheless. Hers just aren’t the visible kind.
Colonel Daniel Bushnell – (Yes, I know the description names him “Adam Bushnell”, but I assure you, in the novel his name is Daniel.) A twisted man with his own agenda, the power of his military rank went to his head and he isn’t ready to let the power go.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
The stories behind these characters is emotionally powerful and as a reader I became immediately invested in seeing them succeed in finding healing and happiness. The story had me firmly in its grip all the way through to the end. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t want to say goodbye when it was over.
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
The unique premise of this book is what hooked me and the author didn’t disappoint in her execution. Not only did this author present unique situations, but she provided fresh feeling characters to experience them.
Recovering from tragedy and making sense of it in the context of God’s goodness.
The difficulty of discerning right and wrong in tragic circumstances.
Forgiveness of self and others.
Without giving too much away, I will say that I loved the twists the author took on her way to this novel’s conclusion. It’s very tempting to say more, but I don’t want to give anything away. Just trust me, you won’t be disappointed by the ending of this novel.
5 out of 5 stars
Did I mention Love Held Captive releases TOMORROW?
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Which part of this novel most appeals to you?
Have you ever encountered a hero you couldn’t stand? Did you finish that book? What makes you despise a hero?
If you’ve read this novel: This author handles matters thoroughly dipped in gray – no black or white here – how do you think she did?
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