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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.
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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
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Freedom to Love by Susanna Fraser is a delightfully entertaining historical romance filled with love and acceptance. The author draws the reader in with lush, vivid descriptions of the time period, Louisiana during the year 1815. I really enjoy reading historical romances and was excited to read one set in America.
Thérèse Bondurant, a New Orleans resident of mixed race, recently discovered she has a younger half-sister, Jeannette, who is a slave. Since their father’s will didn’t secure Jeannette’s freedom, Thérèse determines that she must. Thérèse’s plans are uprooted when an injured English soldier, Henry Farlow, stumbles onto their plantation. Although anxious to help her sister, Thérèse can’t let Henry suffer and takes him in to tend to his injuries. Thérèse is thoroughly surprised by her attraction to Henry with his blond hair and blue eyes. When Thérèse’s cousin and his brother arrive to take possession of the plantation and Jeannette, unexpected circumstances arise, resulting in Henry killing Thérèse’s cousin. This turn of events sends Henry, Thérèse, and Jeannette on the run, and they hope to make it to Canada or England to guarantee Jeannette’s freedom. Henry doesn’t want to be considered a deserter, but he can’t leave Thérèse and Jeannette on their own either, which I adored about him. As a city girl, Thérèse has never left New Orleans and is unprepared for traveling through the American frontier on horseback. Practical, intelligent, and brave, Thérèse faces the unknown and all of the challenges that they encounter, which endeared her character to me. During their arduous journey, Henry and Thérèse’s feelings for each other deepen, and they each realize they are falling in love. Even though she is young, Jeannette is a feisty and insightful character who helps Thérèse realize the depth of her feelings for Henry. Being born of mixed race, Thérèse knows that American laws would not allow her to marry Henry. Fascinated by Thérèse’s intellect and beauty, Henry is taken aback by his growing feelings for her since he has never felt this way about a woman before. Since he has a secret to hide, Henry has always kept an emotional distance from the women in his life. Henry is terrified of anyone knowing that he is unable to read very well as the words seems to scramble on the page when he looks at them. Clever and quick thinking, Henry is not be deterred by American laws and suggests that they head toward Canada or England. If they are to marry, Thérèse is adamant about one thing—she wants everyone to know she is part African. Although Thérèse can pass as white, she refuses to live a lie, and much to Henry’s credit, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Thérèse really appreciates the man that Henry is so she couldn’t care less about his inability to read well. Henry and Thérèse truly accept each other as they are, which is a wonderful thing to see. But, when the happy couple reaches England to meet Henry’s family, life throws them a huge curve ball, altering their plans. Without giving too much away, I loved how Henry handles Thérèse’s fears and doubts about their future, making Henry the most amazing leading man. I adored Henry and Thérèse’s story so much that I stayed up way past my bedtime to see how it ended.
A compelling setting and well-drawn, memorable characters make Freedom to Love a captivating, page-turning story.
I received an eBook copy of the book for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.