LOVE AND WAR was a dense, horrific "romance" novel set during the Civil War. THE RAGING HEARTS was the gleefully sadistic sequel, where both characters are again separated and the heroine is manipulated and emotionally abused by pretty much everyone she comes into contact with. In LOVE AND GLORY, the conclusion to the trilogy about Travis & Kitty, the characters are again separated, except this time, there was so much craziness that I literally could not even. To convey the sheer insanity this plot had to offer, I'm going to have to resort to spoilers.
P.S. Speaking of spoilers, do NOT - I repeat, do NOT - read the Goodreads summary for this book. It has a huge spoiler in it. I read the spoiler by mistake (thinking in my innocence that a summary would be spoiler-free); do not make my mistake, for I was once like you, living in ignorant bliss.
**WARNING: Huge, Huge Spoilers!**
Kitty and Travis are living on a farm with their young son, but Travis doesn't like farming and doesn't hide it well. When Kitty finds out that Travis was offered a position to be a U.S. Marshal for Haiti and the Dominican Republic, she pulls the "I'm going to push you away for your own good" stunt with the help of his BFF, Sam. She does this by forcing him to go to a party he doesn't want to go to. There, she receives honors for her medical work (which annoys Travis, because how dare she have a part of her life that doesn't involve him or his child). She nags him the whole time about being more "gentlemanly" and this infuriates him even more, because he doesn't like being told what to do. The plan works: Travis gets angry that Kitty has changed into a nag, and leaves in a huff.
Sulking Kitty sulks, and everyone who hates her (or wants to bone her) takes pleasure that Travis dumped her so publicly. When she's marooned in a sudden and convenient storm, Jerome Danton (the KKK dude from the previous book) decides it's the perfect opportunity to try and rape her, but his wife (and Kitty's arch-nemesis), Nancy Warren, bursts in with a shotgun right as he's getting to it. Jerome panics and tries to claim that Kitty forced herself on him (uh-huh), but Nancy has none of it and kicks him out of the cabin. She then reveals that she's paid Luke Tate (the man who held Kitty hostage and raped her constantly in book one) to take her far, far away. To Nevada, in fact, where Tate plans to become rich by staking out silver mines. After much rape and abuse, Kitty has a mental breakdown and vows that she is going to die...
Meanwhile, in Haiti, Travis is sleeping with one of the local women - an underage girl named Molina and fuming about Kitty. When Molina finds out that Travis is not only married, but has no intent of entering into a common-law marriage with her, she goes to the island voodoo priest to invoke the gods to get revenge on Travis. One of his fellow U.S. expatriates freaks and explains to Travis that he's in huge trouble, but Travis laughs it off as "BS" and it isn't until he's drugged and wakes up in the middle of a voodoo ceremony where everyone starts fornicating and said friend is nearly killed that he even starts to take it seriously. Then he does the "I'm leaving because I want to not because you told me to" schtick as he stomps back to the U.S. in disgrace for infuriating all the locals.
When he comes back, he finds out that Kitty is missing. Does this stop him from sleeping with Nancy, though? Nope. Jerome catches them in the act, and reveals to Travis exactly what Nancy did. Travis dumps his son off with Mattie Glass (the woman from book two that Kitty saved), and storms off to Nevada to find Luke Tate, who shows Travis Kitty's grave. Travis kills Luke the same way he killed Nathan in book one - by stomping on his throat. Also, he gets a silver mine by saving a guy from being tortured. Then he goes on another U.S. Marshal mission - to investigate a KKK uprising in another state.
Here we meet Alaina and Marilee Barbeau, daughters of the local bigwig. Travis immediately sleeps with Alaina, infuriating her informal fiance, Stewart. The two of them get into a pissing contest that alternately amused and annoyed me. Marilee, on the other hand, is pretty cool. I liked Marilee. She spies on the local KKK chapter with the intent on finding out which black men they intend on harming or killing, and then warning them ahead of time in order to escape. She suspects that her father is involved, but doesn't want to report this to the authorities for fear of implicating them, so she settles for treating the symptoms and not the cause. One day, after coming back from one of these spying missions, she sees Alaina and Travis going at it in a field. She comes back to that field one day and starts touching herself, and Travis sees her, and then they start having sex, too.
Keep in mind that the hero sleeps with five women over the course of this book. If you liked Travis at all in books one and two, you will hate him by the end of this one, because LOVE AND GLORY is where he really lets his d-bag flag fly. He cannot keep it in his pants. At all. Also, he turns into an even bigger jerk. But more on that in a moment.
The KKK plot spins itself out, and Marilee is almost raped in an Indiana Jones-style snake pit by one of the clan members and is saved just in time by our hero. Then they have a series of close calls that ends with the appropriate people being punished. The villains in this book have very inconsequential deaths - one of them is a "blink and you'll miss it" death that occurs because of a misfire. How lame. Travis is so impressed by Marilee's bravery that he decides that she is worthy enough to marry, because she's almost (but not quite) as good as Kitty.
Marilee and Travis end up living together, but Travis is nasty to Marilee. He makes it clear that he doesn't love her and that she doesn't hold a candle to his first wife, who he refuses to talk about and snaps at her the one and only time she dares to ask any question. He drinks a lot, and snaps at her when he drinks, much to Sam's disapproval. Then he decides that he wants to move to California and gets angry at Marilee because she doesn't want to leave the Mormon school she works at, because she's grown so close to the Native American children she teaches. Travis gets into a huge huff, and talks about how he's the man, and blah, blah, blah. Marilee feels bad and says, of course I'll do what you want, sorry for being selfish and by the way I'm pregnant. Because poor Marilee can't catch a break, it's a rough pregnancy that requires her to be hospitalized. And imagine Travis's surprise when the doctor treating Marilee looks just like Kitty...only she doesn't recognize him at all, and calls herself Stella Musgrave.
Well, it turns out that Kitty developed dissociative amnesia from all the rape and abuse she suffered at Luke Tate's hands, and since he's a coward he decided to lie about her death rather than implicate himself. Travis's wife is in the hospital (and since he's already married to Kitty, technically that makes this bigamy. In fact, there is no technically. He is a bigamist - although this is never mentioned in the book, oddly) but could he give a fiddle about that when "the most beautiful woman that God ever created" is in the room? No. There's hemming and hawing about whether it's good for Kitty to remember who she is, and even though it's clear that she's better off now, Travis can't leave her alone. Kitty remembers Travis, and Marilee dies conveniently, telling Travis with her last breath that it's okay if he and Kitty are together before releasing a gush of blood from her womanly parts. Kitty was going to get a full scholarship to a medical school in Europe at the recommendation of the doctor she works for, but Travis is a man, and his happiness must come first, so to heck with that!
This book was absolutely over the top madness. It was like the author was cackling gleefully to herself and saying, "How many tropes can I possibly incorporate into this book?" While talking about LOVE AND GLORY to some of my friends, I joked that I was waiting for some amnesia to pop up. Little did I know that was waiting to spring itself on me in act three...
I debated about what to give this book, and I think I'm going to give it three stars. It's somewhere between three and three-point-five stars, but I'm rounding down because Travis's behavior really upset me in this book. Don't get me wrong - he's a terrible man, and not what I look for in a love interest at all. No, I had come to terms with the fact that he was a prat, but he never learns from his mistakes or his behavior, and while that's probably more realistic it isn't exactly fun to read. How can you root for a man who says that "he doesn't have to rape women" and claims that he can't be without the sex, and who forgets about his own son whenever it isn't convenient, and ignores his own wife when she's in the freaking hospital because sex trumps obligations every single time? Plus, Hagan writes these amazingly strong female characters who fall to pieces and forget their interests as soon as they meet Travis. Kitty was the best dang doctor in the whole Civil War, and Marilee ran a mini-version of the underground railroad right under the noses of the KKK, but when Travis walks into the picture they become sniveling messes who always put his needs above their own.
LOVE AND GLORY concludes the first part of the trilogy. The next set is about Travis's son, Colt, and I read the spoilers for it and it looks like it might be even crazier than this book. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. Even though I gobbled up books 1-3 like candy, I think I need a break from the series, because LOVE AND GLORY left a really bad taste in my mouth.
P.S. There are a lot of typos in these books, too! I'm not sure if they are left over from the originals or errors from the conversion process, but the last book had all kinds of mistakes and this book even got one of the characters' names wrong - Nathan Wright instead of Nathan Collins. Which I have to admit, made me laugh, because Nathan did sleep with Kitty, so accidental typocest for the win.
P.P.S. This book also uses three variations of the N-word. I actually didn't know what one of them meant and had to look it up. Apparently it's a more "polite" version of the really offensive N-word. Because it's always important to remember your manners, I guess... If seeing any variation of the N-word is a trigger for you, I'd suggest avoiding this book because it's very free with it.
3 out of 5 stars.