Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Freedom to Love by Shanna Fraser

Thérèse Bondurant trusted her parents to provide for her and her young half-sister, though they never wed due to laws against mixed-race marriage. But when both die of a fever, Thérèse learns her only inheritance is debt—and her father's promise that somewhere on his plantation lies a buried treasure. To save her own life—as well as that of her sister—she'll need to find it before her white cousins take possession of the land.

British officer Henry Farlow, dazed from a wound received in battle outside New Orleans, stumbles onto Thérèse's property out of necessity. But he stays because he's become captivated by her intelligence and beauty. It's thanks to Thérèse's tender care that he regains his strength just in time to fend off her cousin, inadvertently killing the would-be rapist in the process.

Though he risks being labeled a deserter, it's much more than a sense of duty that compels Henry to see the sisters to safety—far away from the scene of the crime. And Thérèse realizes she has come to rely on Henry for so much more than protection. On their journey to freedom in England, they must navigate a territory that's just as foreign to them both—love.

Published & Release Date: Carina Press, January 5, 2015

Time and setting: 1815, New Orleans, England, Canada

Genre: Historical Romance/Interracial

Heat Level: 1

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Vikki’s Musings

When I stumbled across Freedom to Love on Net-Galley, the book description drew me in. I had read A Christmas Reunion in October and enjoyed it immensely. I immediately requested this book and to my delight, the publisher approved my request for an honest review. Freedom to Love pulled me in from the first page when Henry Farlow awakens in the aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans with a hole in his side ‘cold mud beneath him and a dull gray sky above’.  

Dozens of dead soldiers lay scattered around him and panic sets in. He must get away before the grim reaper realizes there is one still alive. He scrambles to his feet and stumbles into a nearby swamp. In a haze of pain, he wanders until he finds a creek to follow. He reaches what appears to be a deserted plantation. Gathering his strength he staggers into the slave quarters where he hears young female voices speaking a language that sounds similar to French, his mother’s native language. He drops to his knees, his hand held out in front of him, for the beautiful young woman has a pistol aimed at his head.

Therese, a cuarterona and her mulatto half-sister Jeanette realize the handsome British soldier is badly wounded. After some bantering back and forth with Jeanette wanting her to shoot him because he has seen their treasure, Therese decides to help the injured man to the house and treat his wounds. For several days, his body is ravaged by fever, but Jeanette is a talented healer and he begins to slowly recover.

When Therese’s cousin shows up to claim his property, the man attacks Jeanette. Henry defends her, but accidentally kills the man. This begins their mad dash to freedom across the south and to the hills of Tennessee and on to Canada, receiving help along the way from folks against slavery, then onto England.

Can the love Therese and Henry have found on their journey withstand the judgmental prejudice of his family if they find out that she is one-eighth African, or will it tear them apart forever?

Freedom to Love deals with the issue of interracial marriage and the problems that can be created when races intertwine with delicacy and finesse. The love and acceptance that grows between Henry and Therese had me close to tears from the sheer beauty of it. It is so refreshing to read a story where the hero and heroine actually like each other from the beginning and the love grows out of mutual respect.

I truly fell in love with the characters in this story. Each have their own distinct personality and are fully fleshed out, and not just the hero and the heroine. Jeanette plays an important role, and I feel that I grew to know her on a much deeper level than I normally do with a secondary character. What can I say, I loved this book and did not want it to end!

I was intrigued and amazed by the amount of research Ms. Fraser must have done to write this compelling love story. Her historical detail brings the period to life. This is not the typical Regency romance where lords and ladies flirt and dance in beautiful gowns, which is the only thing historical about the book. This is a novel I could completely enmesh myself in a time long gone.

If you enjoy historical romances with a little more depth, and one filled with sexual tension that makes you root for the couple to come together, and when they do, it is beautifully written with a great deal of genuine emotion, then do not want to miss Freedom to Love. I am sure you will enjoy this fantastic story as much as I have. Happy reading!

About the author

Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.
Along the way she read her hometown library’s entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen, and discovered in Patrick O’Brian’s and Bernard Cornwell’s novels another side of the opening decades of the 19th century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still gives her heroines great hair.
Susanna grew up in rural Alabama. After high school she left home for the University of Pennsylvania and has been a city girl ever since. She worked in England for a year after college, using her days off to explore history from ancient stone circles to Jane Austen’s Bath.

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