Monday, October 19, 2015

Growing Up The Hard Way: "The Liberty Series" by Leigh James

My name is Liberty and I'm a good girl. I come from nothing. I have no one but myself. Sometimes I do things I don't want to -- I do them because I have to. Stripping. That's my life in Vegas. And my boss keeps pressuring me to do more than just take my clothes off... 
Then John Carter Quinn crashes into my life. He's an older, gorgeous billionaire in a thousand dollar suit. He keeps coming to see me, night after night. I'm not sure what he wants -- but one night at my club he takes down a bad guy, and I find out what type of business he's actually in. Hint: he doesn't sit at a desk, he employs a bunch of ex-military operatives, and it's lethal to be on his bad side. 
Like me, John has his share of secrets. Dark secrets, dark pain. One of his secrets involves my past. These secrets will bring us together... and then tear us apart. 

This series was released earlier this year but I know that I had read portions of it previously.  However, this is the first time I had put the entire story together in its proper context and everything made much more sense than had been the case in the past.  Some of the reviews of this series have not always been glowing, but I have to say that looking at it from the point of view that Liberty just needed to "grow up" and slot in all the experiences she was having into her maturing process made the book better for me.  

I guess having grown daughters and granddaughters, watching them struggle and learn and grow, all helped me appreciate that Liberty had to experience some of the highs and lows in her life in order to move beyond her evident naivete and her fear of life.  Being shackled to a junkie mother didn't help, and then having the responsibility of caring for a woman who really chose drugs over both her daughters made her close in on herself.  Add in a potentially abusive drug dealer who really cared for nothing and no one except himself and you have a young woman who doesn't trust her own judgment and yet must make some life decisions that may or may not be wise.  

This author has put together a cast of characters that all hold their own even though Liberty and John take center stage.  John's early life experiences have formed him into a hard man who finds his only joy in "taking out the bad guys" that fall through the law enforcement cracks.  John's dad is a caring and understanding man who still grieves the loss of John's mother but who wisely allows John to pursue his chosen life path.  Yet their is deep sadness and regret that colors all of John's experiences and even though his new relationship with Liberty had brought a sense of contentment and "coming home" into his life, he still is broken by loss and grief.  Putting these two broken people together into a relationship that seems lopsided is something that this author pulled off well.  The story moves along, albeit it does stumble from time to time, and I got just a little weary of the fight scenes, but that may say more about me than about the story itself.  Even so, the thrust of the story never seemed to waver, IMHO.  I think all of it was intended to bring the reader into Liberty's experience more deeply.  And I think the author succeeded in that goal.

All in all, this is a good series of stories, taking Liberty from the stage of a seedy stripper club, to the jungles of So. America, to the terror of a Mexican drug cartel, and into the politics of a highly dysfunctional family unit she had not idea of which she was a part.  No wonder she was overwhelmed.  Yet in the end, I think she put the puzzle pieces of herself together, saw more clearly who she was capable of being, and finding a path toward greater contentment than ever she hoped to find.  The books are well written and I think the editing was good, surely a good thing for those of us who read so many badly edited books.  Don't be put off by the ups and downs in this woman's life.  It's part of the growing and maturation process.  She makes some foolish choices and she and those she loves pay dearly.  But she learns and her life experience expands.  A really good read when all is said and done.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Check out The Book Binge for some really good reviews on the latest books.

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