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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For Love & Liberty: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution by Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Kate McMurray, and Staey Agdern

For Love & Liberty is an anthology set during the Revolutionary War. It is unique in that it is not only culturally diverse, but also features a m/m storyline. Typically Revolutionary War romances only tell the story of one type of couple, so initially this intrigued me. There are four stories featured in this anthology. In the first story entitled Be Not Afraid we have a love story with a hero who is a slave fighting as a Patriot and a heroine who is a runaway slave who has decided to take her chances with the British and their offer of freedom away from America. The second novella is A Sweet Surrender and the hero is a British soldier who is nursed back to health secretly by the heroine who is a Native American/African woman. The third story, Rebels at Heart, is a m/m story about an ex-slave and an eccentric American man who masquerades as a British man of wealth. The final short called Home, is the story of a young Jewish couple who are faced with war days before they are to marry and the choices that they must make for their future.

Sadly, I can't say that I enjoyed this anthology.  Unfortunately, I can't go into much details about any of the stories without major spoilers and I don't want to do that. But let me attempt to explain why this didn't work for me. Each of the stories had potential to be thought provoking and moving. These were pretty deep topics that deserved more length, thought, and insight. Perhaps some of my lukewarm feelings about it comes from the certainty that there couldn't possibly be happiness in the future for most of the couples. This is just my opinion of course, as each story (with the exception of the last) ends with a huge dangling question mark. In fact, to me they end just at the point where the stories just seems to be getting started. I think that for me the problem is that I filled in where the stories left off and what my mind conjured didn't involve any positive endings (except for Home). It tainted my enjoyment and as a result it took me awhile to get through all four novellas.

In general, I felt that Alyssa Cole's Be Not Afraid and Stacey Agdern's Home were the highlights of the anthology. They were both well written and engaging. I wish Be Not Afraid hadn't ended where it did and hope that it is continued in a full-length novel in the future. I want to know what happens between these two, how they faced the future that awaited them. If there were regrets and if certain promises were kept. My personal ideas of how their story concluded is pretty dark, but I would love to see what the author envisions. Home was the real winner here. It captured a blend of fear, hope, and courageousness that leaped off the page for me. While it was short as the others it delivered on an emotional level that drew me in completely and kept engaged until the end. As for A Sweet Surrender and Rebels at Heart, the characters and the stories just didn't work for me. The love didn't feel real between either couple, the characters felt like caricatures, and the stories felt forced. In essence, I couldn't seem to make myself care.

Overall, For Love & Liberty didn't work for me. It was a good idea, but not one that I could fully enjoy. These types of stories need more length to explore and capture the passion and conflict of the period. Although I get the feeling the idea was to leave the reader feeling hopeful for the future of the lovers in each story, it had the opposite effect on me.
Be Not Afraid 2 out of 5
A Sweet Surrender 1 out of 5
Rebels at Heart 1 out of 5
Home 3 out of 5
Overall 2 out of 5 stars

*A review copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest and fair review*

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