by Pamela Clare
Book 1 of Blakewell/Kenleigh Family trilogy
For five pounds in cash, the convict was hers. Though Cassie hated the slave trade, her Virginia plantation demanded the labor, and she knew this fevered man would surely die if she left him. But as his wounds healed and his muscled chest bronzed in the sun, Cassie realized Cole Braden was far more dangerous than his papers had indicated—for he could steal her breath with a glance and lay siege to her senses with a touch.
Abducted, beaten, and given a new name, Alec went from master of an English shipbuilding empire to fourteen years of indentured servitude in the American colonies. There, he was known as Cole Braden, a convicted ravisher and defiler of women. And while he longed to ravish the auburn-haired beauty who owned him, he knew his one hope of earning her love—and his freedom—was to prove his true identity. Only then could he turn the tables and attain his ... Sweet Release.
Pamela Clare books never cease to be addictive for me because of the fact that they're often well-written and contain a lot of heart. I'm more familiar with Pamela's contemporary series, and will usually devour them in one read through.
Sweet Release was no exception, although there were some parts where I wished the book would either get on with it, or stop creating so much added drama towards the end--a lot of the ending felt a bit deliberate in creating more suspense than necessary. I feel like, maybe a whole lot more went on in this book than was actually necessary. And while I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this book and got hooked, I really didn't have any strong feelings towards the two main characters, one way or another.
I DID feel like Cassie was more shrill than I liked, and was inconsistent in her behavior. Some moments she would show some backbone and stand up for what she believed in, other times she would back down and let others walk all over her. It got frustrating, and it's not like I expected her to HAVE too much of a backbone and stand up to the men in the book--this is a historical taking place in the 1700s after all where women were treated no better than chattel, and any kind of attempt at back talk or expressing opinions either got belittled or reprimanded. But I still wish she could have been a bit more consistent.
Alec had his moments, but came off a bit of an ass.
In contrast, I loved all the background characters much more than the main characters.
This is probably the first time I've read a historical taking place during this time frame, set in the Americas when slavery was so prominent. I can't say one way or another whether the historical aspects were handled properly or accurately (history was never my best subject), but it certainly managed to bring to surface how terrible people were treated, based on class, gender, and race.
Story wise, I was truly only interested in finding out how Alec would reclaim his real identity, though it didn't take a lot of sleuthing to know who was behind his abduction in the first place. The rest of the story got super angsty, and even the main villain of the story felt kind of comic.
Overall, this could have been a better book, even if I DID get hooked into it and finished it in pretty much one sitting.