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Publication Date: January 5, 2015
eBook; ISBN: B00MTGFABM
Genre: Historical Romance
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.
Thérèse, Henry, and Jeannette are such wonderful characters, it’s impossible to not be rooting for them all from the start, even when they seem to be at cross purposes. Deep down they’re all such strong, caring people, though, you know that they can’t stay on opposite sides of anything for long.
Thérèse, who is illegitimate and one-eighth each Native American and African American, is able to “pass” (as white) but even in the American South she doesn’t want to live that lie. (Admittedly, she is living in NOLA, which had a sizable and influential free black population–but even when she left she didn’t want to hide who she was unless it was necessary to keep her half sister safe.) She’s determined to make a life for herself and Jeannette–a life their recently deceased father should have provided for them but didn’t. She can’t turn away the wounded soldier who shows up on her father’s plantation, even though she’s taking a huge risk helping stranger and a redcoat.
Henry, lost and wounded, just wants to find his regiment again and eventually return home once he’s healed. He has an instinctively protective nature, though, and cannot stand by while anyone is in danger, least of all his two unexpected benefactors. While protecting Jeannette, he inadvertently ensures that the three of them must leave New Orleans as fugitives. He soon decides that he must get Thérèse and Jeannette out of America–only away from the prejudice and unfair laws of the United States can they truly have the lives they deserve. Even when he doesn’t know them very well, he knows he must do right by them–and once he gets to know (and eventually love) them? Nothing, not even his family or society, can make him change his mind.
Jeannette has seen and knows far too much for a thirteen-year-old, making her an odd (but completely believable) mixture of youth and maturity. I loved her spirit and bravery, and the way she was never afraid to speak her mind–but still knew when it was better not to, and managed to keep quiet. Though she might roll her eyes–she is a teenager, after all.
There was so much going on in this novel–the end of the War of 1812 (it still amazes me not only that the Battle of New Orleans took place after the peace treaty was signed, but that it took so long for word of that treaty to make its way to Americans–Henry and Thérèse found out the war was over ages after the fact!), race issues and prejudice in both America and England, slavery, the Underground Railroad, settling the frontier–and underneath it all was a truly wonderful love story. Both my history geek side and the romantic one were satisfied, and I’ll definitely be reading more of Ms. Fraser’s works–soon.
(If you’ve read her novella A Dream Defiant , its main characters, Elijah and Rose, make an appearance here. If you haven’t, I recommend giving their story a try as well–it’s a short read, but really good. I loved seeing them again!)
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Praise for the novels of Susanna Fraser:
“[Susanna Fraser is] a go-to writer for Regency romance that is actually set in the Regency rather than in that Never-Neverland mash-up that’s been dubbed ‘The Recency’ or ‘Almackistan.’” — Willaful at Karen Knows Best
“This is easily one of the best historical romances I’ve read.” — Romantic Historical Reviews on An Infamous Marriage
“…the romance in this story was very sweet. Sydney was immediately relatable and likeable, because she faced such a serious conflict and wanted to make an ethical decision that would preserve the lives of her loved ones.” — Dear Author on Christmas Past
Buy the eBook
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.
Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, sings alto in a local choir and watches cooking competition shows.
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Freedom to Love Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 5
Review at Curling Up With a Good Book
Tuesday, January 6
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, January 7
Review at Becky on Books
Thursday, January 8
Spotlight at Peeking Between the Pages
Saturday, January 11
Review at Carole’s Ramblings