Saturday, December 09, 2006
The captivating chronicle of a young woman's struggle to save her homestead, a young man's determination to expose a pretender, and the yellowed pages of a diary that links their lives together will keep readers spellbound from the first page to the last. Abandoned and abused, Shea Penbrook finds her ancestor Jason Penbrook's diary and unearths a legacy. Jonas Riley is sent to Oregon to investigate Shea's claim to his rightful inheritance-the Penbrook estate. Can love bloom in the midst of murder, deceit, and mystery, or will past histories and present betrayals wreck any chance of romance?
The Freedom of the Soul is the stunning sequel to The Color of the Soul, and also the second book in the Penbrook Diaries series. The story was so compelling, and the times so excruciatingly well-portrayed, that I couldn't stop reading. Being a black person in the South--and Georgia in particular--in the 1940s was a terrifying experience. The Klan thrived and the warped sense of justice lived out by the legal systems in the south bred people who thought nothing of lynching others for having "mixed" relationships. That same system segregated everything from health care to education.
This story moved me emotionally on several occasions. The romance was intense and the sense of adventure fantastic. Bateman ties together many loose ends in this novel, and she weaves new threads that are intriguing and well-thought-out.
The Freedom of the Soul is similar to a thriller in the sense that you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Just when you think the beloved characters are safe, the Klan shows up again. My nerves were taut as I waited for a horrible fate for the people I'd grown to care so much about. Delight filled my heart as the author found ways to extract the characters from the clutches of a sure death more than once. The faith element was also flawlessly incorporated into the storyline.
Bateman has an uncanny ability to bring history to life. I adore her historical fiction and am hopelessly addicted. I highly recommend this page-turning novel and await the next book in the series with anticipation.
The Freedom of the Soul is published by Barbour Publishing and will be released in December 2006.