Title: Fractured Steel
Author: T.J. Loveless
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 15, 2014
Karen Barnes’s life is simple, just the way she likes it, surrounded by horses and the mountains of Laramie, Wyoming. She is well aware the longing for adventure can lead to blood and death, a hard lesson taught during her one, and only, tour in Iraq almost a decade ago.
A stranger approaches Karen about boarding a famous horse foaled in her stables, making her instincts go on high alert. She knows for a fact the stallion’s owner would never sell Five Alarm, the US Reining champion worth a hefty ten million dollars. In ten minutes the stranger confirms her worst fears, launching her into weeks of torment at the hands of her kidnappers.
Armed with a spine of steel, she steals a truck and trailer, rescuing another victim, and recovering Five Alarm, but the ordeal is far from over. The kidnapping was a cover up for espionage. Trusted contacts join the fray, and in the end, pay for their loyalty by dying for her safety. Others aren’t so trustworthy, and as the truth is brought to light, she is betrayed yet again.
Safety and freedom come with their own emotional shackles. She had the courage to fight the battle, but can she live with the aftermath of the carnage, or survive the fractures to her mind?
Rarely do I find a book that leaves me so confused and tied up emotionally, but this one did. There are so many dynamics to this story, there is survival, action packed to the point of confusion, abuse, PTSD, war, secrets, family of lies and dysfunction and the love of horses. Yes sounds like a confusing mixture doesn’t it? The author took on all of these topics and did a great job with them, leaving me with no unanswered questions but a ton of messed up emotions. The story moved quickly, characters were ones the reader could relate to, but sometimes there was just too much action, to many out of the dark attacks for me to really be able to allow myself to fully invest in the story. While I admire the author and her work greatly, I was on overload by the time I was done with the book.
Karen has returned from her duty in Iraq, with scars, memories and PTSD. She is happy to be isolated on her horse farm with no family. Her father had passed away, her mother was never in the picture of her life. She had one friend whom she trusted which was saying a lot for her after what she dealt with in war. Later she will find hidden rooms on the ranch, family lies she was never aware of and eventually the truth to those lies. She will have to reclaim who she thought she was and where she came from, if she survives the next few months.
I can’t say too much about the story itself because I don’t want to risk giving away any spoilers and trust me you need to read this and absorb the story yourself. What I can tell you is that Karen’s prized horse, her one escape from the memories and heart break she feels, is tied up in a mangled mess of abuse, kidnapping, lies, torture and murder for months. Both Karen and the horse have to fight for their life, never knowing who they can trust. Just when Karen thinks she has found someone to help her, they betray her and she starts all over again.
Living minute to minute knowing she can’t just escape and save herself, every plan she has involves saving the horse and risking her life to keep him safe.
The story was very well written. It is clear T.J knows about PTSD and she portrayed it with respect and realism. While we had a strong female character who by all rights should have given up years ago, she continued to battle, trying to reclaim her life. Even in the midst of all that determination the author let us see her weak moments, yet it was done with respect and admiration. There was no over dramatizing PTSD for sells, this was real. Although I love all animals, I am not a horse fan, so much of the books regarding the horse and technical talk about caring for the horse went over my head, I admired how dedicated she was to that animal and my heart broke each time she found out about a death of another animal she had cared about. We have all lost pets that were family to us and she gave us an emotional scene many times over of how much we love our animals and the important role they play in not only making us happy but healing us from heart break.
I can’t say I enjoyed this story, I don’t think it is one I would be able to read again, but I do think if you can handle the emotions she brings with it, you would benefit from reading it. PTSD is real, and it affects many people in your lives. They stay silent about the struggle for many reasons, most because they don’t have words to describe what they are feeling and they also want to protect those
they love from the images they live with. Make sure you have the strength to read about what survivors of PTSD go through, share their fear and pain and never forget the only thing standing between where you are now and becoming a victim of PTSD is traumatic event.
Born in Anchorage, I’ve lived … well … everywhere. From the Arctic Circle to a block from the beaches in Florida. I speak fluent Arkansas Hillbilly, make a mean gumbo, can sew when necessary and am a whiz at packing.
You’ll generally find a Muse snuggled to my hip, the other one laying across my shoulders and Editor Kitty staring at the screen, waiting for the red ink to make an appearance. Once it does, he lays across the keyboard purring.
The family brags about the latest compromising position I’ve been found in, trying to figure out how to truly describe “legs all akimbo” or if falling on the couch could truly land a body in a certain position. They ignore my yelling at characters on the computer screen, and are forgiving when I accidentally write past the time for them to eat. It’s one way of teaching the teenager to cook …
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