Title: Freedom to Love
Author: Susanna Fraser
Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Release Date: January 5, 2014
Acquired Via: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
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.
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
I enjoyed Freedom to Love even though I don't normally read historical romance set in pre-Civil War America. I liked that it discussed tough issues surrounding slavery and mixed-race couples in that time period. I wish that it would have been set more in New Orleans (less than 20% is set there) and had less of a concentration on English customs in the later parts of the book.
The characters were what really made Freedom to Love. Thérèse was clever and strong, and not taken with whining, even though she had a hard journey. Even though she and her half-sister had not grown up together and had only know each other for a short while before their father passed away, Thérèse refused to leave Jeanette. She was determined to find a way to free Jeanette, even at a cost to her own life. It was admirable and showed a strength of character that is all too rare. Henry was just as likeable, and never balked at both Thérèse and Jeanette being of mixed race. His own hesitations at a relationship with Thérèse were more due to his own perceived limitations than Thérèse's race. Jeanette was an interesting character, as she was incredibly intelligent with an interest in being a healer. She was also sassy and straight forward. I wish that would have learned more about how Jeanette fare later in life, whether she ended up married to a physician or a apothecary so that she could continue in her studies.
The plot was a little slow at times, especially while the three were traveling away (fleeing) from New Orleans. I also skimmed the sex scenes, which were the least enjoyable scenes in the book, but I often don't read historical romance scenes anyway.
I would recommend Freedom to Love to anyone interested in a different kind of historical romance with a focus on characters and issues present in early 19th Century America and England. This is my second author from Carina Press, and I'm impressed with the works I've read from the Harlequin imprint.
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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.
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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Review at Curling Up With a Good Book
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Review at Bibliophilia, Please
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Thursday, January 15
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Freedom to Love
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.