If you love historicals, then this love story could be for you! Freedom of Love takes place in the antebellum South during slavery. The heroine, Soleil, is a biracial French teenager who accompanies her parents on a business trip to the Cummings Plantation. Soleil has never experienced racism. This is her first trip to America. Alex Cummings, the teenage son of the plantation owner is tasked with occupying Soleil while their fathers take care of a business transaction. At first, Alex is bothered that he must be a “babysitter”. However, upon seeing Soleil, he cannot help but be drawn to her beauty.
Alex woos her by taking her for a boat ride and then swimming. There they talk about race matters. Alex cannot fathom that Soleil could ever be a slave because she is “different” from the rest. Soleil, on the other hand, challenges his racist thinking about Black slaves. They become very good friends. Alex would like nothing better than to pursue Soleil; however, he knows that with societal pressures and his father’s plantation business, it would be impossible. So, they keep in contact through letters as friends.
When Soleil and her parents return to the South on business, she is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Also, she suffers a trauma which causes her to lose her memory. For almost four years, Soleil is “missing”!
Alex finds Soleil and her daughter as they are attempting to escape from an abusive slave owner at a nearby plantation. Alex is angry at himself that she had only been a few miles away the entire time. Soleil does not remember him. Alex rescues her and buys her freedom. He is also still in love. However, Soleil has become bitter and distrustful. She had to endure whippings and verbal abuse for years. Somehow, she knew that she was not born a slave, but since she had no memory, she was even more of a tragic figure. Alex had taken over the family plantation since his father died.
The rest of the novel takes the pair through a “getting to know each other” again journey. The antagonist is a racist white woman, Vivian, who is in charge of the house slaves. She can tell that Soleil has enchanted Alex. She is determined to railroad this burgeoning love at any cost.
The story started off slowly and a tad predictable. However, after Soleil is found again by Alex, the story picks up nicely and flowed well. There are a few surprises and twists and turns involving the paternity of Soleil’s daughter. Overall, Alex was a “restrained” alpha male. He continually tolerated Vivian until she almost kills Soleil. That was a turn off. However, he was wise in understanding the social and business implications of being with a Black woman. Toward the end, Alex fully understands the evils of slavery. He takes the appropriate measures to be with Soleil and her daughter legally. The ending was satisfying.
-Reviewed by Pamela