Freedom to Love by Susanna Fraser

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Louisiana, 1815

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.

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Publisher and Release Date: Carina Press, January 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: 1815, New Orleans, England, Canada
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Review by Vikki

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 lie scattered around him and panic sets in – he must get away before the grim reaper realizes there is one still alive. Reaching what appears to be a deserted plantation, he gathers his strength and 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.

Thérèse – a cuarterona – and her mulatto half-sister, Jeanette, realize the handsome British soldier is badly wounded. Setting aside her sister’s objections, Thérèse 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 Henry begins to slowly recover.

When Thérèse’s cousin shows up to claim his property, he attacks Jeanette. Henry defends her, but accidentally kills him. 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, and then on to England.

Can the love Thérèse 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 Thérèse 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 has their own distinct personality and is as fully fleshed out as 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!

Ms Fraser has clearly done a great deal of research in order to write this compelling love story – her attention to historical detail really brings the period to life. This is not the typical Regency romance where the only real concession to period detail is that the lords and ladies flirt and dance in beautiful gowns.

If you enjoy historical romances with a little more depth, filled with sexual tension that makes you root for the couple to come together, then do not miss Freedom to Love. I am sure you will enjoy this fantastic story as much as I did.

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