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Review: Duty, Honor, Love (Toronto’s Elite Book 1)

Duty, Honor, LoveAs iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion. Antisthenes

“That’s why crazy people are so dangerous. You think they’re nice until they’re chaining you up in the garage.” Michael Buckley, The Fairy-Tale Detectives

A new audit of the California foster care system has revealed that over 1,000 foster home addresses match those of registered sex offenders, according to the Los Angeles Times. It seems that child welfare official failed to compare the addresses even after they were told to do so in 2008. According to the Sacramento Bee, about 600 of the highlighted offenders were considered high risk.” — The Huffington Post – By Dean Praetorius, 1,000 California Foster Care Homes Match Sex Offender Addresses: Report

 

Her name is Marissa Preston. Nine years old. Blond and blue. Her mother is frantic to find her, and Detectives Jaden Black and Cameron Olsen know that, if they don’t find her soon, the worst will happen. But the worst quickly becomes even more horrific. For Marissa isn’t alone in her dark and painful place. There is another little girl with her, in a dark and terrifying basement. Emily Knight looks enough like Marissa to be her twin, and she too is missing. Finding these little girls is urgent if they are to live.

Of course, Cameron and Jaden have a secret weapon – Jaden is the most powerful telepath in the Toronto PD. She may be the most power telepath anywhere – and she has just found Emily Knight’s mind.

““She’s being held captive by a man. She thinks a new girl who joined her looks like Marissa. So there’s a chance she might be alive. The girl also said there were others, but they’ve all gone.”

There. Were. Others. Those words hit Cameron like a sledgehammer to the heart. This isn’t just a single kidnapping, or even two. There. Were. Others. And as Jayden and Cameron begin to dig, the picture becomes darker and darker, until the sheer evil of the tale reveals itself in a horrifying miasma that stretches long into the past.

“Missing and unsolved, all in the last three-and-a-half years. Six girls, including Emily. Why the heck has no one noticed?”

Easily explained, with a bit of research. Six little girls, all six to nine, all blond haired, pretty and fragile. All, in one way or the other, have been involved in the foster system. A foster system broken and criminally mismanaged, a system which ignores repeated reports of sexual and physical abuse – of the deaths of children in their care.

According to a report published in 2005 by Rick Toma, “A Critical Look At The Foster Care System”:

“. . . in nearly half the states (studied), cases take years to come to completion as agencies repeatedly fail to investigate abuse reports in a timely fashion, find permanent homes for children, or even keep track of those children under their care and custody.” — Fred Bayles and Sharon Cohen, “Chaos Often the Only Parent for Abused or Neglected Children,” Associated Press as reported in Los Angeles Times, (April 30, 1995)

Just one case of thousands:

“. . . case involved a nine-year-old boy who weighed only 28 lbs., and who could hardly speak after the suicides of his parents. County social workers failed to visit him in his foster home for four months. During that time, he was beaten, sodomized, burned on his genitals and nearly drowned by his foster parents. He became a spastic paraplegic.” Margot Hornblower, “Fixing the System,” TIME Magazine, (December 11, 1995).

I used to think this sort of abuse was more prevalent in the US. Surely those nice Canadians didn’t wallow in the kind of monstrous mismanagement we suffer here? Apparently, this isn’t the case. You see, three of these little girls had been moved through a single foster placement – and all six had, at one point or the other, been shuffled through other homes in the system. And the terrors these children suffered . . .

Duty, Honor, Love” is a brutal tale of the kind of sadistic treatment children are routinely subjected to in the foster system told through a story of psychopaths, pedophiles, and the people who are left to clean up the mess. This is a fast paced tale of suspense that kept me turning pages on my reader so fast I nearly set my fingers on fire. But Marissa and Emily’s story isn’t the only tragedy involved in this narration – for there are other monsters trolling the darkness – and one of them is after Jaden.

Parts of this book I absolutely adored. There is the truly excellent tale of pedophiles and stalkers, of the police who work tirelessly to capture them, and a foster system that allows the horrors to occur over and over again, ignoring report after report of child abuse in foster homes. But there is also a very heavy sexual storyline that, in my opinion, lowered the overall tone of the storyline. There is M/M, M/F, and M/M/F action in the book, which is perfectly fine in the right setting. Hey, I can get into erotica just as well as the next person. Here, however, it ate up too much of the storyline and detracted from the very important writing that the author accomplished, leaving me dissatisfied with the overall tone of the book. The sex scenes could have been paired down to a couple and been an enhancement to the overall story. Spending more time on character development and background for the characters would have been a more efficacious use of word count. However, a good third of the book was down to sex. I like spicy – but not so much that it debases the narrative.

I still highly recommend the book. As I said, it kept me turning pages at a blistering pace to see what happened next. It will stay on my reader, and I will be looking forward to more from Angela S. Stone. I just hope she can find the line between writing erotica and writing a solid novel with an important story line.

“Duty, Honor, Love” came to me from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please click here and click “Like”. It helps my authors to draw attention to their books through my reviews. Thank you!

About The Author

Angela S. StoneAngela S. Stone is a twenty something Registered Nurse living in Ottawa, Canada. Her first novel, Sometimes It’s Fate, was published by Phaze books in 2011. Angela finds inspiration in real life personal events for her books, often writing about issues she’s experience in her life. She is a proud Canadian and an even prouder girl from back east. She thoroughly enjoys writing novels featuring character that live in or are from the Maritimes. She’s recently met Mr. Right and when she’s not occupied with him she can be found hanging out at her local Bridgehead writing. She spends her free time advocating for minorities and persons with disabilities.

Angela has a severe learning disability called Dysgraphia. Despite this she has written several novels, graduated from university, and will, eventually, be starting her Master’s degree in nursing. All things she was told she would never be able to do.

Angela has never met a challenge that she couldn’t overcome. She believes strongly in the philosophy of saying “I can’t” means “I won’t” and advocating for yourself. She has spoken about these topics on provincial, regional and national levels.

Volunteer Firefighters Have The Heart . . . #romanticmystery #volunteerfirefighters

“Every quirky girl doesn’t have to be the best-friend character. It’s a very limiting and self-fulfilling prophecy. People only write things that will get green-lit, so they write to those stereotypes.” – Felicia Day

But Then . . .

“Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest. When we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart.” – Ed Koch

The author of “A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” has tried very hard to stereotype herself and her work, to fit  into a very narrow, very self-limiting pigeonhole.

Pigeonhole: Verb (used with object) to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system:
to pigeonhole new ideas.

Trey Duvall is a rancher, proud as can be of his Wildcat Ranch. He’s also the top volunteer firefighter of Wildcat Bluff, the town that pulls out all the stops for its Christmas festivities. Misty Reynolds pulls into town just in time to help Trey put out a suspicious fire, leading him to dub her his “Christmas angel”. Unfortunately, Misty’s past has left her with terrible memories of fire, and of Christmas time. As the two are unwittingly thrown together again and again, can Trey win Misty’s trust — and her heart Misty’s trust — and her heart? Texas volunteer fire departments as part of Assistance to Firefighters ...

Sigh. I hate when this happens. You see, like other books I have reviewed, and suggested a wider audience consider, this book doesn’t fall into the “Only Read If You Like Mushy Romance” category. The characters shouldn’t be typecast as “Hunky Hero” and “Insipid Pseudo-Heroine” with a “Hero Rides in on His White Horse and Saves the Day” insipid sort of blurb such as this book is stuck with. It needs something more along the line of pointing out that the town of Wildcat Bluff is filled with quirky, unusual characters who care deeply for their town, their people, and their history. An important part of that sense of community is their volunteer fire department and all it does to keep their community safe.

“There are bad things happening in Wildcat Bluff just before their Christmas in the Country celebration. Arson fires are spreading in the tinder-dry countryside, exasperated by the ongoing drought, and cut fences and grass fires are threatening Trey Duvall’s historic cattle ranch. When Misty Reynolds rolls up to a grass fire Trey is putting out in his pasture and he runs out in front of her to try and stop her for help, he has no idea that she is actually there as a troubleshooter for Texas Timber, the company that has had a Christmas tree farm burned already, and had others threatened. Finding the arsonist means that Misty has to stay undercover and spend time questioning, and suspecting, everyone in town. And when she learns that Trey has a bone to pick with Texas Timber, he moves straight to the ‘suspect’ column.”

housefire-kitten3
Volunteer firefighter saving the life of a kitten with a pet oxygen kit. Please as your volunteer fire department if you can help with a benefit for Pet Oxygen Kits to help save pets caught in fires! Thank you!!!!!!
https://i0.wp.com/www.petoxygenmasks.org/assets/images/logo.gif
Because the Pet’s Life They Save May Be Your Own™ Click the logo to visit the “Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative” to make a difference! Thank you!!!!

OK, I am not known for my stellar ability to write blurbs, I give you that. But mine gives a better feel for what is going on. Misty isn’t a blond bimbo, Trey isn’t a hulking Alpha male bent on getting into every woman’s pants he can hold down long enough, and the people of the town are as important to the character list as the two main characters. There are important messages in the book about community, about overcoming horrors in your childhood that carry over into adulthood, and about the ways in which power and greed can destroy everything a community tries to build. The people of Wildcat Bluff are kind, they help one another, and the volunteers literally risk their life every time they go out on a call. The community has pulled together to form a strictly volunteer department, put on bake sales to buy equipment, and are proud of who they are and what they do. That deserves a lot more credit than it gets – either with the cover, or with the blurb.

 

Memorial Service for West, Texas (my old hometown) volunteer firefighters killed while fighting the April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. The memorial service honored those first responders and two civilians who tried to fight the fire and were posthumously named volunteer first responders.

If you like books that highlight a sense of community, that include a mystery, suspense, a few thrills – and yes, a good romantic storyline – overlook the blurb and the cover and give this one a try.

You will note I didn’t post the cover of the book in my review – any of the photos on this page give more respect to the book than the totally lame cover does. I am disappointed that the publisher tried so hard to minimize, pigeonhole and lower the impact of the book. I hate seeing that happen to books with such promise, that many will simply skip over based on poor art and a poor blurb.

It is still available for request on Netgalley.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please take a moment to “Like” my review on GoodReads. Thank you!

“A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” is in preorder status until publication on October 6, 2015.

 

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In case you haven’t noticed – this has a “Save the Kitty!” aspect – and I couldn’t resist adding a couple more “Firefighter Saves!!!!” Photos. Firefighters RULE!!!

I was SOO SCARED!!! And Then! And Then! This FIREMAN showed up!!!!!

Thank you, Mr. Fireman!!! Kisses!!!!

About The Author

Kim Redford draws her inspiration from a Texas lifestyle of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, rodeos and small towns to create her bestselling novels. When she’s not writing steamy romances, she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider. She divides her time between Texas and Oklahoma. A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas is first in her Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series with Blazing Hot Cowboy coming soon.

I don’t know about the “bestselling novels” thing. Her site is nonexistent, and goodreads shows only this book, set to publish October 6, so maybe she is writing under a pseudonym? If this is indeed her first book, I hope she will widen her audience by moving away from sticking herself into a single cubbyhole with her publication, marketing and cover strategy. The whole “steamy romance” thing is self-limiting when she can write good stories that encompass a wide ranging storyline such as this book exemplifies.

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