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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.
We’re delighted to welcome Susanna Fraser to Romantic Historical Reviews today, to tell us a little more about her first foray (as a writer, anyway!) into the world of American Romance!
Thank you for having me as a guest today!
Freedom to Love is unique among the historical romances I’ve written to date in that the majority of the action takes place in America. All my previous titles are set either in England or with the British army in Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. This new book has similar roots–the hero is a British soldier wounded at the Battle of New Orleans–but the American heroine and setting give the story a different feel, I think, and definitely required a lot of new research on my part.
Writing it made me think about American historical romances I’ve read down through the years. Frankly, there aren’t that many. I’m not strongly drawn to the outlaws and cowboys of Westerns, so I rarely read them if they aren’t highly recommended by someone I trust. And the American settings I’d love to read more of–e.g. the colonial and revolutionary eras or nineteenth-century cities, either on the East or West Coast–are much harder to find.
However, I did cut my romance-reading teeth on American-set historicals. Specifically, the Sunfire series of YA historical romance that came out in the 1980’s. Each was about a girl, usually 16 years old, finding adventure and romance during some key event in American history. I liked them so much better than the contemporary YA romance of my days because the heroines got to be involved in big events with big consequences. My favorites were Nicole, who found love on the Titanic, Marilee of Jamestown, and Amanda of the Oregon Trail.
I graduated from Sunfires to traditional Regency historical romances before I graduated high school, but I’ve always kept an eye out for American historicals that might satisfy me in the same way on a more adult level. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Wives of Bowie Stone by Maggie Osborne. A Western, so not my usual thing, but the characters are so well-developed and the whole thing is just so poignant and tender.
- Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney. I love this book in every way, from its unusual setting (1890’s Chicago) to how Gaffney made me believe in its boy-raised-by-wolves-returning-to-civilization conceit (suffice it to say she clearly did her homework) to how sweet and romantic and sometimes hilarious the central love story is. I wish it was still in print and/or available as an ebook.
- Captive Bride by Bonnie Dee. Set in 1870’s San Francisco, the story of a young woman who emigrates from China to a promised arranged marriage only to discover she’s expected to become a prostitute. She escapes and finds refuge with an American store owner who believes in her even before they share any common language, and it’s just lovely.
- Medicine Woman by Kathleen Eagle. I love Eagle’s contemporary romances and wish she’d written more than a handful of historicals. No one writes Native American heroes and heroines better, in my opinion. This one is also out of print and unavailable in ebook, but if you ever happen across a copy, grab it!
Do you have any favorite American-set historical romances to recommend?
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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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