Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sweet Release by Pamela Clare

The first in the Kenleigh/Blakewell Family Trilogy, Sweet Release was Clare's debut novel and she made quite a splash on the scene. Unfortunately no one was really paying attention and she has not gotten the recognition she deserves.

Alec Kenleigh is a gentleman in London society but as he is walking home he is kidnapped and thrown onto a ship as an indentured servant towards the Americas. In his place a corpse is left with no face. When he arrives in Virginia he is very ill and doesn't remember much of anything.

Cassie Blakewell takes pity on his dying form and buys his indenture with that of a slave called Luke. When Alec finally comes to, he discovers his predicament and asks for a note be sent to London to clear his name. Until that is clear he will work as an indentured servant to repay Cassie and her family.

Cassie doesn't really know what to make of her new servant and his tale, but she doesn't want to make any waves since, as a woman, she shouldn't be running her family's estate. Cassie has taken over the management of the estate since her father became ill (he appears to have Alzheimer but Clare doesn't come out and say it openly since they didn't have a name for this illness back then). If the truth of her father's illness comes out a guardian would be appointed to her and her four year old brother, Jamie. She fears that this guardian will sell off the land and mistreat her servants and slaves.

For some bizarre reason the two books I have read from Clare have had a very slow start. This one took me a few days to get into. They don't really grab you from the start but when she gets going, she knows how to build momentum. As those of you know I'm a real proponent to the whole falling in love over a period of time. There are a few authors that can convince me that true feelings of love can be developed over a few days or even a week. Clare doesn't try to push that on us. The couple in this book actually didn't even like each other for a while. She was his mistress and he hated the fact that she had that power over him.

The book had a mix of day to day grind with a bit of excitement mixed in. With the ague falling on the estate, an indian doctor who seems to know everything, slaves that fall in love with each other, servants that fall hard after setting their sights to high, an evil neighbor that wants Cassie and horse races that are barely won, the book just pulls you along and makes the end a bittersweet proponent.

Another feather to Pamela Clare is that she gives us a passionate affair that is a bit out of the ordinary and yet doesn't pull the couple out of character. Great book.

Grade: B


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