Review: An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Jen

Wow. What an engrossing and powerful book. This is the third installment in Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series, but the first for me. And it holds up completely as a standalone.

If you’ve read even a handful of my reviews, you know I am a sucker for a tortured hero, and my gosh, Daniel Cumberland is certainly tortured. He was a black man born free who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He spent months being subjugated and abused, until the day he was rescued and delivered to the Loyal League. Their mission: to help take down the Confederacy. Daniel joins their cause, but he does it more for vengeance then altruism.

Janita joins the league for entirely different reasons. She infiltrates the group as a spy to feed information to the Confederacy. Janita is mixed race Cuban and black, but she was raised in luxury. Her plantation owning father married her former slave mother. She never even allowed herself to consider the contradiction that was her life. Until her father was arrested and her white lover convinced her that the only way to save him was by spying on the League.

Janita and Daniel are assigned to be partners. No one likes Daniel, or at least, no one feels comfortable around him because he is so damaged and brooding. But Janita feels like she can make the best of things. She is, after all, a chameleon. So they set off together to try to verify some information that might help their cause.

Quickly, she begins to see that her understanding of slavery is very misguided. She and Daniel interact with other black people, both enslaved and free. But the thing is, she begins to understand that her freedom is fragile. After all, look what happened to Daniel. The story follows her evolution in understanding the evils of slavery and his transformation in to seeing him self as worthwhile and deserving of a future.

This is a very, very slow burn. I found myself rooting for these two long before they so much as touched each other. I was a little disappointed that their connection was not a bit more parceled out. I think the very first time they finally kissed, they were getting all the way down to business. I might have liked a few stolen kisses or something to hold me through along the story.

I’m not a huge fan of the Big Secret trope, and obviously Janita had a big one. It did hang over the story for quite a while, but there were a lot of really good things going on in the meantime. Cole’s portrayal of slavery and the heartbreak and agony that black people endured during this time was amazingly well done. The way she communicated with Daniel’s range of emotion, from anger to hate to helplessness to despair. It was just so powerful.

And while I waited for the pay off on all the tension between these two, when I finally got it, it was very satisfying. I just wanted more.

Overall, a very good book, with some difficult themes and a solid message of hope. Would recommend.

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

An Unconditional Freedom
by Alyssa Cole
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Kensington

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