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An Unconditional Freedom

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Daniel Cumberland’s uneventful life as a freed man in Massachusetts ended the night he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. To then have his freedom restored by the very man who stole his beloved’s heart is almost too much to bear. When he’s offered entry into the Loyal League, the covert organization of spies who helped free him, Daniel seizes the opportunity to help take Daniel Cumberland’s uneventful life as a freed man in Massachusetts ended the night he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. To then have his freedom restored by the very man who stole his beloved’s heart is almost too much to bear. When he’s offered entry into the Loyal League, the covert organization of spies who helped free him, Daniel seizes the opportunity to help take down the Confederacy and vent the rage that consumes him. When the Union Army occupies Janeta Sanchez’s small Florida town, her family’s goodwill and ties to Cuba fail to protect her father from being unjustly imprisoned for treason. To ensure her father’s release, Janeta is made an offer she can’t refuse: spy for the Confederacy. Driven by a desire for vengeance and the hope of saving her family, she agrees to infiltrate the Loyal League as a double agent. Daniel is both aggravated and intrigued by the headstrong recruit. For the first time in months, he feels something other than anger, but a partner means being accountable, and Daniel’s secret plan to settle a vendetta and strike a blow for the Union can be entrusted to no one. As Janeta and Daniel track Jefferson Davis on his tour of the South, their dual hidden missions are threatened by the ghosts of their pasts and a growing mutual attraction—that might be their only hope for the future.


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Daniel Cumberland’s uneventful life as a freed man in Massachusetts ended the night he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. To then have his freedom restored by the very man who stole his beloved’s heart is almost too much to bear. When he’s offered entry into the Loyal League, the covert organization of spies who helped free him, Daniel seizes the opportunity to help take Daniel Cumberland’s uneventful life as a freed man in Massachusetts ended the night he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. To then have his freedom restored by the very man who stole his beloved’s heart is almost too much to bear. When he’s offered entry into the Loyal League, the covert organization of spies who helped free him, Daniel seizes the opportunity to help take down the Confederacy and vent the rage that consumes him. When the Union Army occupies Janeta Sanchez’s small Florida town, her family’s goodwill and ties to Cuba fail to protect her father from being unjustly imprisoned for treason. To ensure her father’s release, Janeta is made an offer she can’t refuse: spy for the Confederacy. Driven by a desire for vengeance and the hope of saving her family, she agrees to infiltrate the Loyal League as a double agent. Daniel is both aggravated and intrigued by the headstrong recruit. For the first time in months, he feels something other than anger, but a partner means being accountable, and Daniel’s secret plan to settle a vendetta and strike a blow for the Union can be entrusted to no one. As Janeta and Daniel track Jefferson Davis on his tour of the South, their dual hidden missions are threatened by the ghosts of their pasts and a growing mutual attraction—that might be their only hope for the future.

30 review for An Unconditional Freedom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I liked this! Almost without reservations! It feels so good to really like a book Alyssa Cole has written. I had some troubles with the first book in this series similar to the ones I've had with Reluctant Royals (character chemistry, mostly), but the second two have both been my favorite things by far that she's written. I think maybe it's because they're such hardcore historical fiction, and with this one especially, the focus is almost equally split between historical detail, individual chara I liked this! Almost without reservations! It feels so good to really like a book Alyssa Cole has written. I had some troubles with the first book in this series similar to the ones I've had with Reluctant Royals (character chemistry, mostly), but the second two have both been my favorite things by far that she's written. I think maybe it's because they're such hardcore historical fiction, and with this one especially, the focus is almost equally split between historical detail, individual character arcs/growth, and the romance plot. There's only one sex scene, and it was pretty brief, and I didn't care at all! That's not where the meat is here. (These are the only romance novels I've read that actually come with a bibliography of sources at the end, and it's very substantial!) Our main character is Daniel, who we've met in both previous books. Daniel has had a rough go. Born free and training to become a lawyer, Daniel fell in love with Elle (the protagonist from book one) from a young age, and was extremely hurt when she turned down his marriage proposal, ending up marrying a white man and going off to become a spy (a thing of which he disapproved). But when he's captured and sold into slavery by two white men pretending to be abolitionists, his entire outlook on life is questioned. A stubborn man with a bit of an ego, the sudden reversal of everything he'd thought to be true leads Daniel to become depressed, even suicidal, after he's freed; he believes that everything he touches turns to poison, he trusts no one, and does not believe in the cause for which he fights. He's extremely angry. I don't actually think I've ever read a romance novel before where the hero had thoughts of suicidal ideation, but he definitely does here, and I found it extremely interesting for her to actually go there. If there is anything I'd have liked for the book to do that it didn't, I wish there would have been a way to retain some of that darkness towards the end and not have it dissipate almost completely as it does. His counterpart is Janeta Sanchez, born to a Cuban plantation owner who plucked her mother, a slave, out of the sugar cane fields, bedded her, then married her once his first wife had died. Janeta has been raised to believe that she is special, different from all those who look like her and who work the fields. This is especially enforced by her mother, who didn't wish her to be looked down on by others. She has infiltrated the Loyal League on behalf of Henry, the white man she has loved forever, and who wishes to join the Sons of the Confederacy (a pre-cursor to the KKK). He's convinced her that information she passed on to him about the Union soldiers occupying her house is the reason her father is now imprisoned, and she can help get him out by infiltrating the LL. But growing up steeped in a culture supported by slavery, now that she's out in the world, she's questioning everything she's been taught. She's a really interesting mix of competent, emotionally intelligent badass, and naïve about the real world. And I absolutely loved the way that Cole played it with her emotional growth here. She spends the exact right amount of time on each stage of her de-programming, not coming to things too late, and being really astute about the sometimes devastating things she's learning that are completely re-writing how she thinks about herself and her place in the world. And then there's their romance. They had such good chemistry! Daniel doesn't trust anyone, and Jeneta is hiding everything. But her genuine compassion, curiosity, and steadiness compels him. And she for the first time is realizing what it looks like when someone really cares for her as she is rather than expecting her to just fit in and conform. I didn't even mind the keeping secrets thing, which I normally do, because of how it all shakes out. Again, the only thing I really wish could have been a little different is the ending. I think Daniel comes out of his funk a little too easily, and the emotional climax lost some of its impact. I'm not sure how else she could have played it, but it seemed a little too easy. Still, small complaints when the rest of it was so satisfying. Read Harder Challenge 2019: An historical romance by an AOC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I was ambivalent about Alyssa Cole's earliest novellas, but I liked the concept of them. Shorter stories did not really seem to be her forte, and in my review of one of her earliest works, I wrote that she was an author I'd want to revisit if she ever did a full length novel. Well, she did, and that was a while ago, and I've been coming back over and over again, ever since. Alyssa Cole is walking proof that it pays to be an author who i Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I was ambivalent about Alyssa Cole's earliest novellas, but I liked the concept of them. Shorter stories did not really seem to be her forte, and in my review of one of her earliest works, I wrote that she was an author I'd want to revisit if she ever did a full length novel. Well, she did, and that was a while ago, and I've been coming back over and over again, ever since. Alyssa Cole is walking proof that it pays to be an author who is receptive to feedback and works tirelessly to write fresh and engaging stories with developed and diverse characters-- especially strong women. The Loyal League series is about a secret group of people during the time of the Civil War who go undercover to infiltrate and stymie the Confederacy. The first book in this series, AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION, which is about a woman who poses as a slave and ends up finding romance and wild success as a spy, was good, but this book, AN UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM, is even better. Part of that is due to the heroine, Janeta, who is one of my favorite recent romance heroines. Janeta is Cuban, and the daughter of a plantation owner and a freed slave. All her life, she has been told that she is better than those working in the fields. She has a white lover who is a Confederate supporter, and when her father is imprisoned, this lover encourages her to gather intelligence on the North so she can name names and give information in exchange for her father's freedom. Daniel is a friend of Elle from the first book. He is a free man and had studied to be a lawyer, only to be caught and sold into slavery by two evil men posing as abolitionists. Now he is free again and hungry for revenge. When the Loyal League assigns Janeta to him as his partner, he's skeptical of her and her motivations, and unwilling to trust her. But despite his suspicions, he ends up falling for her because of her strong will and their shared pain brought on by slavery and the war; both of them have been caught between their own desires and what society wants for them their whole lives, and in working to save a Nation and its people, they end up finding the agency to also save themselves. I. Loved. This. Book. First, I love that Janeta was allowed to be so flawed, and that she had to figure out her own privileges and biases. I love that she did that without help. Daniel didn't have to "teach" her; she was canny enough to figure out that she'd been fed a pack of harmful lies her whole life. The double-agent angle provided so much tension, and it was so well done. Plus, there were no big misunderstandings. Everything had a sound reason and I never felt like Cole was playing things up for drama. The action scenes were intense, and there were some fantastic discussions about humanity, inequality, and privilege that fit the scenes and didn't come across as heavy-handed. Here are some of my favorite quotes: "We can be intelligent, we can accrue wealth, we can strive to make this country better, and lose everything at the whim of some pale sir or madam. It doesn't even require much effort on their part. That's the worst of it. They don't even have to try hard to ruin us" (61). "I care because as long as slavery is sanctioned in this world, either directly or tacitly, we are a doomed species. There is no hope for progress, no hope for a world of peace and prosperity, if some men are allowed dominion over others for as arbitrary a reason as skin color" (190). Then there's Daniel-- the textbook example of a tortured hero. I loved him so very much. He was kind and noble, but also selfish in his own ways; he had taken his suffering and made his pain into a selfish drive for revenge, even at the cost of his personal relationships and self-love. The love-hate relationship between him and Janeta in the beginning was catnip for my fangirl self. I'm a sucker for the tsundere model of shipping (read: cranky character pretends not to care, but secretly does-- a lot), and he and Janeta were such an easy couple to root for, and an HEA that was easy to smile about. If you enjoy historical fiction and want to read one that's empowering for and stars people of color in roles of agency, replete with excellent character development, The Loyal League is the way to go. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 4.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mónica BQ

    I think I liked the book overall, or at least I somewhat enjoyed it, and I loved the cover, but the Spanish is atrocious. Also, and being honest, I haven't forgotten about Cole's outspoken endorsement of Santino Hassell and how her name led credence to them and she never backtracked from it or at least acknowledged that she played a part in the whole thing. Anyway, whatever I have to say good or bad about the book has been swallowed entirely by how much I abhorred the Spanish in the book. Main cha I think I liked the book overall, or at least I somewhat enjoyed it, and I loved the cover, but the Spanish is atrocious. Also, and being honest, I haven't forgotten about Cole's outspoken endorsement of Santino Hassell and how her name led credence to them and she never backtracked from it or at least acknowledged that she played a part in the whole thing. Anyway, whatever I have to say good or bad about the book has been swallowed entirely by how much I abhorred the Spanish in the book. Main character Janeta Sanchez, supposedly born and bred in Cuba, speaks an unintelligible Spanish. Very much obviously written, edited and vetted by someone whose first language isn't Spanish at all. I am well aware that in the acknowledgments Cole mentions a couple of people that helped her with her rusty Spanish. And please let me say that whoever helped her did her a disservice. There's rusty Spanish and there's español tan incomprensible que ya es otra madre inventada, no español. Plus, Sanchez should be Sánchez, specially if the character was actually born in a Spanish speaking country. I'm writing it as the author did. Inaccurately. AUF is filled with wrong use of words and tenses, no correct punctuation (not ONCE in the entire book), misgendered pronouns, nouns and adjectives. Not even correct spelling of simple fucking words. "Nunca en la vida, comprende?" Something only a gringo would ever ever ever ever say. I don't even know how to explain this one. Maybe I could start with the lack of punctuation? Or maybe with the wrong use of "tú" and "usted" that obviously nobody that read that in editing understands? Or maybe with the rage inducing use of the "comprende?" phrase that nobody that speaks Spanish for real uses in the way that non Spanish speaking people do? or that if you are speaking to someone with the deference afforded to "usted", you would never sass them like that? (view spoiler)[ This elicits the same kind of hatred I get whenever I read something like "hot tamale". !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TAMALE IS NOT A WORD THAT EXISTS IN SPANISH. It's either TAMAL (singular) or TAMALES (plural) (hide spoiler)] "Eso fue todo." A horrid Google translate translation of the phrase "That was it". I would be laughing if I wasn't so fucking mad. Sure, it is technically a word for word correct translation, but the original sentence it was used on was this: "Janeta didn’t want to think of it. She had never wanted to. Her father had loved her mother, and her mother had loved him. Eso fue todo." Anyone with a bare minimum of actual Spanish understanding gets why that's not accurate at all. Drume negrita, Que yo voy a comprar nueva cunita . . . DRUME. DRUME. En lugar de "Duerme". It's also missing the word "una" between "comprar" and "nueva". *se jala los pelos en español y llora* “Odio este lengua feo!" That's Janeta saying she dislikes this ugly language. Meaning English. But honestly girl, if that's your Spanish you've got no place talking about ugly languages ever. Those are all the examples I have the patience for right now. But basically every single phrase or word or anything said in Spanish in the book is wrong. And the Spanish is in italics. Here's why I fucking hate that. I'm kind of noping Alyssa Cole from now on.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Geri Reads

    I've been a fan of Alyssa Cole ever since I picked up A Princess in Theory about a year ago, and hasn't stopped singing her praises. Call me a Cole evangelist from now on. I'll gladly embrace that title because this author has constantly delivered great stories. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, An Unconditional Freedom is the story of Daniel Cumberland, born a free man in the North, Daniel thought he has his life ahead of him until a betrayal sent him straight south into slaver I've been a fan of Alyssa Cole ever since I picked up A Princess in Theory about a year ago, and hasn't stopped singing her praises. Call me a Cole evangelist from now on. I'll gladly embrace that title because this author has constantly delivered great stories. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, An Unconditional Freedom is the story of Daniel Cumberland, born a free man in the North, Daniel thought he has his life ahead of him until a betrayal sent him straight south into slavery. The book starts when Daniel was rescued from his master and taken into the Loyal League. A secret society of brave men & women fighting to win the Civil War for the North. Daniel became one of its detective and was paired with Janeta, a half Cuban born to a slave mother & a white father. I won't go into Janeta's motives and reason for joining the League because it is a spoiler. But let me just say that no other author has changed my mind about a heroine. I really didn't like Janeta at first for a good reason. And Alyssa Cole doesn't shy away from painting this heroine in a questionable light. But the more I got into the story, my dislike turned into outright loving and rooting for her. Daniel Cumberland is one of the most broken heroes I've ever read & one of the most honorable. His story broke my heart. I loved how the author was able to show how slavery affected Daniel's psyche, his confidence and his faith. The romance between Daniel & Janeta was a delightful slow burn filled with internal conflict & tension. It's not as prominent as her contemporary romances but to me, it fits in this context. There's a lot of things and issues that the characters had to work through before they could come together. And I loved that their HEA didn't magically solve anything or stopped the war but it's precious and earned all the same. ARC provided by Kensington Press

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    There's little doubt that An Unconditional Freedom was written post-November 2016, though no doubt planned earlier. This romance novel is jam-packed with rage. It's a good book, but I will caution that, where the two prior books had a nice balance between romance and political/spying action, An Unconditional Freedom really does not focus on the romance aspect. As ever, the political aspects are fascinating and nuanced. The heroine, Janeta, is half-Cuban, half-Black, the wealthy daughter of a Cuba There's little doubt that An Unconditional Freedom was written post-November 2016, though no doubt planned earlier. This romance novel is jam-packed with rage. It's a good book, but I will caution that, where the two prior books had a nice balance between romance and political/spying action, An Unconditional Freedom really does not focus on the romance aspect. As ever, the political aspects are fascinating and nuanced. The heroine, Janeta, is half-Cuban, half-Black, the wealthy daughter of a Cuban slave owner who recently moved to Florida. There, she was seduced by a white man in the Sons of the Confederacy, and he convinced her to spy for the Confederates, which leads to her going undercover in the Loyal League and partnering with Daniel (aka Elle's bestie from book one). The first half of this book was so hard to read (not because it's bad but because oof) with Daniel's burning rage of vengeance and Janeta's determination to betray the Loyal League to the Confederates. It's a lot. Janeta's character arc is a powerful one, though, as she sees more of the real world and comes to better understand her life now and in the past. Only now does she really understand that her mom was a slave and that she could easily have been one as well. She realizes that she may have had half-sisters who worked as slaves for her father. Janeta's a fascinating character, who starts out hateful but evolves into this amazing and powerful person, overcoming her upbringing and fighting for what's right. I didn't find Daniel's journey quite as compelling, a journey from rage and vengeance to a more hopeful sort of attempt to affect change. It's a good one, but not necessarily as emotionally satisfying, even if it is the best course. Compared to Janeta, he had a very expected emotional evolution, and it did feel like he only changed because of love, which seemed a bit simple to me. The plot, too, felt very meandering and lacked the cinematic arc the first two books had. Also, I didn't really understand the romantic connection between these two. They didn't seem to bond particularly well, and the secrets between them, though handled in an interesting way, do seem like they should have complicated things a bit more. All the books in this series leaned towards instalove to me, but this one most of all. Though ultimately that may have been that this book was so much more focused on the political aspects than the romance. It really didn't get a lot of time. An Unconditional Freedom is a good book, but I struggled some reading it, largely because I went in expecting a historical romance and I feel this book falls more into historical fiction than romance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brooke — brooklynnnnereads

    Before I get into this review, I want to preface that although this is a fictionalized story regarding the Civil War, the content can be quite disturbing and graphic at times, especially taking into consideration this being the reality for some during this time. Some of the specific trigger warnings that I found while reading this novel are: Racism, Thoughts of Self-Harm, and Suicide. Again, these are three specific examples but the overall content of this novel could be overwhelming for some re Before I get into this review, I want to preface that although this is a fictionalized story regarding the Civil War, the content can be quite disturbing and graphic at times, especially taking into consideration this being the reality for some during this time. Some of the specific trigger warnings that I found while reading this novel are: Racism, Thoughts of Self-Harm, and Suicide. Again, these are three specific examples but the overall content of this novel could be overwhelming for some readers. If you are worried about how this novel will effect you, read some more reviews and do a little research surrounding this novel prior to reading. With that aside, let me get into my thoughts for this novel. It's difficult for me to put thoughts into words when it comes to this novel. Everything from the story and the writing was beautiful but it's so much more than that. This is such an important story. Especially for those like me that feel the educational system failed when it came to education regarding The Civil War. As an adult, sometimes I feel like I'm absorbing more information about it for the first time and as important as non-fiction is, sometimes fictional stories inspired by true events will have more of a retention for me. That was the case with this novel (and this series). Yes, there is romance but that is clearly not the important message to take away from this story. Like the previous novels in this series, this was an incredibly emotional and powerful read. It opened my eyes to moments in history. The acknowledgements from the author at the end of this novel are made even more heartbreaking knowing that we haven't ultimately changed in a "better direction" which has been clearly seen this year. It's sad and horrifying to read about dark periods in history knowing in some ways, society has remained the same.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Loves Reading

    I started out reading and ended up listening when my reads started to pile on. I think this was my favorite in the series. I liked the pacing of the romance the best at least. Great characters once again. And I enjoy reading love stories during times of turmoil and strife, as this certainly is.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    [free review copy] There is historical romance as a genre, and then there is Alyssa Cole's niche there. This series, The Loyal League, takes on an aspect of US history (the enslavement of millions of people) that is difficult to cover with the appropriate severity in romance, and does not hold back one tiny bit in showing the true horrors of the reality. . In this third installment in the series, it feels as if the rage against the injustices of the treatment of Blacks are dialed up to (a much-war [free review copy] There is historical romance as a genre, and then there is Alyssa Cole's niche there. This series, The Loyal League, takes on an aspect of US history (the enslavement of millions of people) that is difficult to cover with the appropriate severity in romance, and does not hold back one tiny bit in showing the true horrors of the reality. . In this third installment in the series, it feels as if the rage against the injustices of the treatment of Blacks are dialed up to (a much-warranted) max and the depth of the characters have reached new levels. Cole covers not only the fight to end slavery during the Civil War, but also the slave-owning practices in Cuba, the mixed heritages of so many people who were born to enslaved women as products of rape by slave-owners, as well as the practice of capturing free Blacks in the North and enslaving them in the South. There is intrigue and politics and adventure. Cole not only addresses the politics and white supremacy of the period she's writing about, but manages to elegantly but not-so-subtly include messages about today too. Oh yes, and there is also a romance in there as well. . This book is by far my favorite in the series, and it deserves an audience far and wide beyond the romance market. I'm a major romance fan, but I'm well aware of the discrimination thrown at the genre - I desperately want non-romance-readers to pick it up too. While it is the 3rd in the series, you can read it as a stand-alone - there is some backstory you won't pick up, but the story stands fine without it. If you are a reader who doesn't typically read romance, read this one anyway. There is really only one bedroom scene, and if you have to turn your eyes away because of the sexy stuff, go for it - you won't miss the message of the book. . If you are looking for a book to fit the "historical romance by an author of color" category for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2019 and are new to the romance genre and typically prefer "issue" books, I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you love romance and are used to decadent lighter stories, brace yourself for a new kind of reading experience. If you are just a human who needs to learn more about the despicable history of slavery in the Americas, add this to your reading list too. . Note: The author's note at the end of the book is not to be missed, as it lays out Cole's deep despair over the repetition of white supremacy in the US in current day, but it also describes how she is finding hope in tumultuous times. It's incredibly powerful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelsie Maxwell

    An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole is book three in The Loyal League series. Cole has re-exposed the ugly side of American history in these historical fiction novels. This series highlights the civil war and the efforts of individuals working to end the institution of slavery and restore a united nation. Though part of a series, this novel is a standalone. However, I do recommend reading the two previous books for connecting details and added depth. This book brings the story full circle. D An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole is book three in The Loyal League series. Cole has re-exposed the ugly side of American history in these historical fiction novels. This series highlights the civil war and the efforts of individuals working to end the institution of slavery and restore a united nation. Though part of a series, this novel is a standalone. However, I do recommend reading the two previous books for connecting details and added depth. This book brings the story full circle. Daniel Cumberland was born free but was captured and sold into slavery. He is eventually freed and joins the Loyal League, an organization seeking to realize victory for the Union, and thereby the end of slavery. Daniel is consumed with rage and is determined to reap vengeance upon the system that took his freedom and destroyed his soul. Janeta Sanchez is of mixed heritage but was raised privileged on her father’s sugar cane plantation in Cuba. Her family relocates to Florida, where her father is imprisoned for crimes against the Union. In an effort to free her father, Janeta infiltrates the Loyal League to spy for the Confederacy. She is confused and disturbed by the truths she now faces with regard to the institution of slavery, perhaps she has been lied to by those closest to her. Daniel and Janeta are partnered together in the Loyal League, though neither is happy about the pairing. A growing attraction complicates the relationship. Can they save themselves and their future, whether together or separately? Once again, Cole has done her research and gives a realistic depiction of Civil War America. Real people and entities are featured, which makes the story more believable and compelling. The plot held my attention from start to finish. An Unconditional Freedom lives up to the standard Cole set in the first two books and I rate it 5 out of 5 stars. I find this edition of the series reminiscent of Solomon Northup’s novel, Twelve Years a Slave, recently released as a full-length film. I recommend this book and the entire series to fans of historical romance and American history buffs, especially those interested in the Civil War era. My thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. However, the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

  10. 4 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    An amazing book! My favourite historical by Alyssa Cole. Set in the American civil war, the story is about 2 people with a lot of growing to do. Daniel, a Black man born free in the North, is experiencing PTSD after having been kidnapped into slavery. Janeta is the Cuban daughter of a slaveowner and a former slave; she's been raised to think herself above other Blacks. Their love story and individual journeys are so beautiful and moving. So is Cole's afterward about the resonance of the themes o An amazing book! My favourite historical by Alyssa Cole. Set in the American civil war, the story is about 2 people with a lot of growing to do. Daniel, a Black man born free in the North, is experiencing PTSD after having been kidnapped into slavery. Janeta is the Cuban daughter of a slaveowner and a former slave; she's been raised to think herself above other Blacks. Their love story and individual journeys are so beautiful and moving. So is Cole's afterward about the resonance of the themes of the book and the racism of that time in the contemporary US. I cried.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dorine

    AN UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM by Alyssa Cole is a difficult and inspiring story about racism within American history. The emotion, fear, sadness, and hope for the future shines brilliantly in a novel that’s not always easy to read, even though everyone should. Author Alyssa Cole emotionally illustrates the American Civil War through pain and aggression from a free man’s point of view, after he unjustly experiences slavery first-hand. This character’s story brought forth my emotion regarding the lack o AN UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM by Alyssa Cole is a difficult and inspiring story about racism within American history. The emotion, fear, sadness, and hope for the future shines brilliantly in a novel that’s not always easy to read, even though everyone should. Author Alyssa Cole emotionally illustrates the American Civil War through pain and aggression from a free man’s point of view, after he unjustly experiences slavery first-hand. This character’s story brought forth my emotion regarding the lack of equality – in history and currently. Everyone should read this series and think about how they can assist pushing this evil out of our lives. Daniel Cumberland’s slave experiences made him a hard-core detective with the Loyal League, seeking vengeance against the Confederacy. He teams up with a green recruit from Cuba who proves repeatedly that she can take care of herself. Janeta Sanchez has secrets, but will she realize in time where her heart and allegiance truly lie? This isn’t an easy story to read, especially after reading the author’s note at the end. I empathize. This had to be an extremely difficult book to write. Depth of feeling enters into my reading, especially considering the injustices during the Civil War. That so much prejudice still exists today is frustrating. I just hope that we can rally together to make this world function without color influencing it. That we see each other as a beautiful blend of people who can work together for a better future. Daniel and Janeta’s future, as well as other key characters’, isn’t clearly explained at the end, which is the only part of this book that disappoints me. The end suits the story, but I became so attached to the characters that I wanted more. Dare I hope for a sequel? It’s not a fluffy romance ending, which I do love, but that would be unrealistic. It’s romantic, but it’s not tied up in a neat bow. This book represents truth, which may not always be pretty or what we want, but it’s good to be reminded that the fight for equality isn’t over. We need that fresh in our minds so we’ll treat others as the beautiful ethnicity that they are. Even though this book built slowly for me, and the characters rehashed their issues a bit too much for my preference, I wouldn’t miss the climatic end to this series. I’m sad to see it end, and hope the author reconsiders adding to it. If you love American history, Alyssa Cole’s The Loyal League series is a must read. She writes with an authenticity, while mixing in unexpected nuances never before experienced fictionally in this time period. It’s gutsy, with female leads who inspire. I would love several more books to follow these characters’ journeys, as well as those of their descendants. Make sure you read AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION and A HOPE DIVIDED before AN UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM for an immersed experience. Yes, you can read them out of order, but it will feel more complete if you start from the beginning. I highly recommend the series as a whole. AN UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM is a captivating, unique blend of adventure and love. Review by Dorine, courtesy of RomanceJunkies.com. Print copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Korrie’s Korner

    3.75 stars. This book was good, but compared to books one and two it just didn’t hit that sweet spot for me. I felt like the two characters lacked chemistry and they just didn’t mesh well for me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it, I just feel maybe this one didn’t need romance at all. Daniel & Janeta’s characters were amazing, but together not so much. Does that make sense? It did excite me that my hometown of Meridian, MS was mentioned several times. The latter half of the book was in Mississippi. “ 3.75 stars. This book was good, but compared to books one and two it just didn’t hit that sweet spot for me. I felt like the two characters lacked chemistry and they just didn’t mesh well for me. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it, I just feel maybe this one didn’t need romance at all. Daniel & Janeta’s characters were amazing, but together not so much. Does that make sense? It did excite me that my hometown of Meridian, MS was mentioned several times. The latter half of the book was in Mississippi. “Janeta thought she’d known darkness, but the inky black of a Mississippi woods on a moonless night was something else entirely.” Janeta was entirely right in that description. Mississippi is something else entirely different.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam (AMNReader)

    He was glad she had left this foul chamber pot of a country, that would make a man love it, then remind him how it despised him at every turn. Daniel's character, a lawyer born free then captured into slavery late in life sets up an interesting trajectory. The sentiments in this book apply as much today as they did then. The anger fueling these pages and that easily ignites within the reader is so persistent and relevant now. And that's why I 'd read this book. This is still an underrepresented v He was glad she had left this foul chamber pot of a country, that would make a man love it, then remind him how it despised him at every turn. Daniel's character, a lawyer born free then captured into slavery late in life sets up an interesting trajectory. The sentiments in this book apply as much today as they did then. The anger fueling these pages and that easily ignites within the reader is so persistent and relevant now. And that's why I 'd read this book. This is still an underrepresented viewpoint in history, let alone romance. Alyssa Cole is magnificent with a pen. I do think she's at times..clinical for some reason, I feel a little removed. (particularly with the chemistry between couples) I didn't with Daniel, but I sure didn't trust or relate to Janeta. And this presented its own problem. Janeta is a Cuban plantation owner and slave's daughter, but she's had a privileged position. It is her task to infiltrate the Loyal League to rescue her father. She's smart, resilient, with a soft and curious vulnerability that make her likable enough, but I didn't see how Daniel would ever come to trust her, let alone fall in love with her. And, because the plot in this book is so dominant-and so hefty- the background is the romance and the development of it, and in a romance that is this complicated, it wasn't executed well. It was upstaged by the heart-breaking plot and characters “I’m not talking about changing the laws, Daniel. I’m talking about changing the white men who craft them. Show me how to do that and we’ll solve the problem of America.” I think, though, if you go into this book thinking it's historical fiction, you will be pleased, if a little distracted by the romance. As a character, Daniel was a favorite. Incredibly tortured, realistic, and brilliantly used to comment on the current political and social climate in the US and beyond. There's plenty of quotes like the two I pulled out. The second book is still my favorite, though this is absolutely worth the read. The romance just happened to take a back seat and be couched in some pretty quick sidestepping and miracle shifts in feeling along with wondrous healing. That, and I felt like a few key background elements and plot points were repeated 2-5 too many times. I wish more of that had been dedicated to how they fell in love. Gratitude. It didn’t batter into him like a wave, but filled him slowly, like a rivulet pouring into a basin that had been parched by drought. 3.5 rounded up

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tqwana

    This review originally appeared on 80 Books Blog Romance takes a bit of a back seat in this final installment in Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series. And that is not a bad thing. It is the slowest of slow burns, focused more on the individuals loving themselves while gradually falling for each other. The hero and heroine, Daniel and Janeta, go on an intense journey of healing and self-discovery, which worked for me because I had such a hard time sympathizing with sheltered Janeta at first, knowing th This review originally appeared on 80 Books Blog Romance takes a bit of a back seat in this final installment in Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series. And that is not a bad thing. It is the slowest of slow burns, focused more on the individuals loving themselves while gradually falling for each other. The hero and heroine, Daniel and Janeta, go on an intense journey of healing and self-discovery, which worked for me because I had such a hard time sympathizing with sheltered Janeta at first, knowing that her motives were initially harmful to Daniel and the 4L. But, we should always trust Alyssa Cole. Trust her to know that someone with Daniel’s trauma and PTSD needed time to heal before falling in love. And Janeta needed to come clean with him and herself before doing the same. She needed to come to terms with the ramifications of the way her mother raised her. By the end, I was her biggest fan. So it was fitting that the ending is more happy for now, yet hopeful and optimistic. We never forget that this was one of America’s darkest periods, and Daniel and Janeta are in the midst of a war that could end with them both in bondage or dead. *I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

  15. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

    Don’t tell me romance isn’t real literature! This is the best of what historical fiction can be. An Unconditional Freedom is the third and final book in the Loyal League series, which follows members of a secret society fighting against slavery during the Civil War. In this book, Daniel Cumberland was born free but captured and sold into slavery. He’s now free again and working for the Loyal League, but his experiences have left scars both visible and invisible. He’s assigned to work a case with Don’t tell me romance isn’t real literature! This is the best of what historical fiction can be. An Unconditional Freedom is the third and final book in the Loyal League series, which follows members of a secret society fighting against slavery during the Civil War. In this book, Daniel Cumberland was born free but captured and sold into slavery. He’s now free again and working for the Loyal League, but his experiences have left scars both visible and invisible. He’s assigned to work a case with a new agent, Janeta Sanchez, a Cuban immigrant who is secretly a spy for the Confederacy. This is very much an against-all-odds romance, considering the tumultuous time in history, the danger of the characters’ jobs, their different cultures and experiences, and the fact that they start out on different sides of the war. Only a talent like Alyssa Cole’s could pull these two together.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tia

    This was the most gritty out of the series. My emotions were everywhere. So many times I held my breathe. Both Janeta and Daniel were trying to find their place in the world. Both of them had little faith in their abilities. In the compassion and trust they had for the other they each found salvation and redemption. I loved the characters (not the confederate ones) and how Cole humanizes them so the reader can connect easily and quickly. 'An Unconditional Freedom' didn't start off well for me. I This was the most gritty out of the series. My emotions were everywhere. So many times I held my breathe. Both Janeta and Daniel were trying to find their place in the world. Both of them had little faith in their abilities. In the compassion and trust they had for the other they each found salvation and redemption. I loved the characters (not the confederate ones) and how Cole humanizes them so the reader can connect easily and quickly. 'An Unconditional Freedom' didn't start off well for me. I knew quickly it was going to be an intense read. What I didn't know was that it would ultimately be my favorite out of the three. Alyssa has quickly become an author that I will read anything she writes. It is quite difficult, I've found, to find an author who can start a book and end it just as strong. Thank you to Kensington for the advanced eArc of this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    majo

    TW: racism, violence, mentions of self-harm, sexual assault,rape, slavery, war. The loyal league series is one of my favorite historical romances series now. Is really TOP TIER. With this final book we follow Daniel, whom we've known since book 1. I think this was the darkest book out of the three of the series, because it has some pretty serious topics (see TW above), about two people who have had past relationships that they can't let go for one reason or another, and how they needed to grow as TW: racism, violence, mentions of self-harm, sexual assault,rape, slavery, war. The loyal league series is one of my favorite historical romances series now. Is really TOP TIER. With this final book we follow Daniel, whom we've known since book 1. I think this was the darkest book out of the three of the series, because it has some pretty serious topics (see TW above), about two people who have had past relationships that they can't let go for one reason or another, and how they needed to grow as individuals, and when they meet each other they discover that they both are deserving of love and second chances. I love that both Daniel and Janeta had incredible development throughout the book both as individuals and as a couple. So read this book if you like: -Reluctant allies. -Dislike at first sight. -Characters that refer to the other using their last names, unless is a tender moment, so they use each other first names instead.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    C/W:(view spoiler)[enslavement, PTSD, death of a parent, grief (hide spoiler)] I really enjoyed the concepts and non-romance portions of An Unconditional Freedom but wanted more from the romance itself. The story is largely about Janeta and Daniel's mission for the Loyal League to meet a British official in Mississippi who may be supportive of the Union cause. The romance is a slow burn that I would've loved to see more of before the story wrapped up. C/W:(view spoiler)[enslavement, PTSD, death of a parent, grief (hide spoiler)] I really enjoyed the concepts and non-romance portions of An Unconditional Freedom but wanted more from the romance itself. The story is largely about Janeta and Daniel's mission for the Loyal League to meet a British official in Mississippi who may be supportive of the Union cause. The romance is a slow burn that I would've loved to see more of before the story wrapped up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jen Davis

    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. Th 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

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    An Unconditional Freedom marks the end of the Loyal League series, a series that needs to be on the every reader’s TBR. While the series is historical romance, I believe it will appeal to non-romance readers as well. The way Alyssa Cole centers the narratives of free Black and enslaved people during the Civil War is not to be missed. This is an important part of American history. I can't stop marveling over not only what Cole accomplished in this story but the series as a whole. She crafted an am An Unconditional Freedom marks the end of the Loyal League series, a series that needs to be on the every reader’s TBR. While the series is historical romance, I believe it will appeal to non-romance readers as well. The way Alyssa Cole centers the narratives of free Black and enslaved people during the Civil War is not to be missed. This is an important part of American history. I can't stop marveling over not only what Cole accomplished in this story but the series as a whole. She crafted an amazing story with staying power. While the first two books in the series dealt more in intrigue, An Unconditional Freedom examines the cost of enslavement. Daniel was a free Black man when he was kidnapped and sold in to slavery. While his friends were eventually able to free him, he bears scars both literal and figurative. His quest for revenge leads him to join the Loyal League and he doesn’t care much about making friends, nor does he have much faith in America. His arc really pulled on my heartstrings. Janeta is Cuban and her family moved to a Florida plantation after her mom, her father’s former slave, died. Her whole life she’s been told she’s special, she’s not like the enslaved, even if they have the same color skin. And eventually she stopped asking questions about the enslaved in the fields and believes her parents’ lies. But then her dad is thrown in jail by the Union army and her love interest tells her the only way he can be freed is if she spies on the Loyal League. The beauty of Janeta’s story is watching her eyes open to the reality of slavery in both Cuba and the United States. Once she and Daniel are partnered together, she’s exposed to an entirely different world from the one she was raised in. From there, she has to work through whether she’ll betray Daniel and the Loyal League and what will happen to her father. There’s a lot we can learn from Janeta’s experience of understanding race and racism. Daniel and Janeta faced high stakes and I had no idea how their happily ever after would come about in the midst of all they faced and their seemingly opposite goals. But it came through! It was a slow burn but it was worth the wait. They were so good for one another, so good at seeing the best in one another once they got past their first impressions. Alyssa Cole keeps outdoing herself with every book. I cannot recommend this series more highly, whether or not you’re a romance reader. The stories are that good and that important. “Hate made good kindling, but hope burned much brighter.” CW: slavery, racism, violence, threats of sexual assault Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    This book was fantastic, being that this is the third book in the series and I've read the two previous ones I have come to know what to expect from this author's writing. No let down here at all. Daniel Cumberland was born a free black man in Massachusetts to a seamstress and a blacksmith. Studying law so he could help free those enslaved he was tricked and kidnapped by men pretending to be abolitionist for the cause. Offered entry into the Loyal League and organization of Black spies who helpe This book was fantastic, being that this is the third book in the series and I've read the two previous ones I have come to know what to expect from this author's writing. No let down here at all. Daniel Cumberland was born a free black man in Massachusetts to a seamstress and a blacksmith. Studying law so he could help free those enslaved he was tricked and kidnapped by men pretending to be abolitionist for the cause. Offered entry into the Loyal League and organization of Black spies who helped to free him. This is where he meets spy member Janeta Sanchez, a Cuban who is infiltrating the Loyal League as a double agent. Daniel and Janeta are paired up to work together. He is a hardened,bitter man after being sold into slavery. This book is light on the romance and more of a historical that is filled with hope. As the story progresses we see a maturation in Daniel as his relationship changes with Janeta from wariness to trust and eventually love. Deep soulful characters, the plot was really there and well researched. I can't wait to see what the author comes up with next. Pub Date: 26 Feb 2019 I was given a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington through NetGalley. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Timitra

    Rated 4.5 Stars An Unconditional Freedom is in no way, shape or form an easy book to read. The opening scene of had me pissed to hell off, it only took a few minutes for me to go from zero to angry. It had nothing to do with the writing which was great as always but everything to do with the subject matter. All the books in this series are difficult to read for that very reason. Although they're set in the past they're in a lot of ways mirror images of present day America and other parts of the w Rated 4.5 Stars An Unconditional Freedom is in no way, shape or form an easy book to read. The opening scene of had me pissed to hell off, it only took a few minutes for me to go from zero to angry. It had nothing to do with the writing which was great as always but everything to do with the subject matter. All the books in this series are difficult to read for that very reason. Although they're set in the past they're in a lot of ways mirror images of present day America and other parts of the world which makes for some very uncomfortable reading but in no way takes away from the fascinating stories this weaves. These characters didn't have the easiest go of it as every part of their journey was wrought with danger, lies and deceit among so many other things. I loved that despite all of this love was able to sprout under the most inhospitable and unlikely conditions. As difficult as it was to read I loved it and highly recommend it. ARC provided by publisher through Net Galley

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Hum.... I loved this book. I have a LOT of feelings about this book. It was masterfully written, made me angry and sad. The romance was chemical. The characters were fully realized. More serious and darker than the other two books in the series. I will probably expand more later. This author is really impressing me with the breadth of her writing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christi | christireadsalot

    Book 3 in the Loyal League series, a series set in Civil War era that blends history, spies and romance so well. Daniel lived life as a free man in Massachusetts going to law school, but one night his life changed when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He ends up getting his freedom back thanks to Elle & Malcolm (the couple from book 1) and their work with the Loyal League. So when they give him the opportunity to join up into the Loyal League as well, a covert organization of spies workin Book 3 in the Loyal League series, a series set in Civil War era that blends history, spies and romance so well. Daniel lived life as a free man in Massachusetts going to law school, but one night his life changed when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He ends up getting his freedom back thanks to Elle & Malcolm (the couple from book 1) and their work with the Loyal League. So when they give him the opportunity to join up into the Loyal League as well, a covert organization of spies working for the North, he joins. Janeta is Cuban and was raised on a plantation by her plantation-owner father and freed-slave mother. She was taught she was better than those enslaved working the fields and even was seeing a man who is a Confederate supporter. When her father becomes imprisoned her lover convinces her to gather any intelligence she can find about the North & join the Loyal League to spy for the Confederacy in return for her father’s freedom. She ends up joining but starts to realize rather quickly her life has been built on lies and that she has a lot to process from her upbringing, she has to check her own privilege and prejudices and really has a lot of work to do on her mindset. It was so interesting to watch happen and really well done, I appreciated how she did a lot of the work on her own and didn’t rely on Daniel to give her all the answers. She ends up getting partnered up with Daniel and they definitely butt-heads a bit at the beginning, the angst and tension of the double-agent bit was so good. This book had me caught up in the story from the start and it was just such a fantastic addition to this amazing series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    An Unconditional Freedom brought me full circle with book one in this series by telling the story of the man who was rejected by An Extraordinary Union's heroine. Each of these Loyal League stories bring history alive, send the reader into pulse-pounding intrigue and danger, and introduce characters and relationships that tug hard on the emotions. This latest has reached down deeper than any others in the series. An Unconditional Freedom is book three in the Loyal League series. It could be read An Unconditional Freedom brought me full circle with book one in this series by telling the story of the man who was rejected by An Extraordinary Union's heroine. Each of these Loyal League stories bring history alive, send the reader into pulse-pounding intrigue and danger, and introduce characters and relationships that tug hard on the emotions. This latest has reached down deeper than any others in the series. An Unconditional Freedom is book three in the Loyal League series. It could be read standalone because it is a separate story arc though there are obvious loose ties to the first two books, but it had a better impact on me by getting it in order. In An Unconditional Freedom, we get the story of the man who once thought to earn his law degree and be a husband only to lose his free black status when kidnapped by slavers and sold making him see just how precarious all his assumptions about freedom really were. Daniel's life journey came at a high price. His work as a Loyal League detective helping his people gain their freedom is good, but it is only a vehicle driven by his deep fury and pain until he encounters a woman set on her own dark path. Janeta Sanchez is a Cuban black woman who has lived in luxury as the daughter of the Cuban plantation owner who brings his family to his Florida villa. Janeta is naive and her dream to be desired leads her to loving and trusting the wrong man which she doesn't realize until she is in an untenable situation. Now, she must insinuate herself into the Loyal League, using her shared skin color to spy against them and eventually take them down to help her lover and her imprisoned father. Only, she encounters the stone cold eyes of her new partner and knows that gaining secrets from Daniel Cumberland will not be easy and the attempt may well get her killed. In truth, I would describe this as a historical fiction mashed with romance. Yes, there is a slow burn love growing at the heart of this story and gets to a wonderful sensual and spicy scene, but for most of the tale it is about two people who were on very separate and distinct paths face personal hardship, demons, and a chance at growth and healing before they are ready for anything resembling love and romance. I was riveted to the storyline as Daniel and Janeta are deeply involved in spy work and intrigue in a constantly volatile situation as they traverse the South during war time. As the previous books showed, the war is fought on many levels and many ways other than soldiers clashing against soldiers. There is a whole other secret war being fought behind the lines as well as some seek to gather intelligence or sabotage while others seek to incite riots and twist people to do their dirty work. This story was told in a heightened state of danger and I read it in one sitting. My emotions were engaged and I appreciate how the author demonstrated good research and wrote a layered action and character-driven story. It was obvious that she threw her heart into this one and the readers will reap the reward of that. Those who enjoy US Civil War era historicals, historical romance, and African American history should definitely pick up this book/series. My thanks to Kensington via Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    i have read the reluctant royals series and the first two books in this series. i have enjoyed all of alyssa cole's books that i have read, though i vastly prefer the contemporary series. i still liked the first two books in this series a lot though.. i liked this one too but unfortunately, it was a little bit underwhelming. this is possibly more like 3.5 but unfortunately not enough to round up. i am not american and even though alyssa cole writes very well and in a way that is easy to understan i have read the reluctant royals series and the first two books in this series. i have enjoyed all of alyssa cole's books that i have read, though i vastly prefer the contemporary series. i still liked the first two books in this series a lot though.. i liked this one too but unfortunately, it was a little bit underwhelming. this is possibly more like 3.5 but unfortunately not enough to round up. i am not american and even though alyssa cole writes very well and in a way that is easy to understand, i often found myself confused in these books and would have to ask my (american) husband questions. i did feel like i got more confused in this one than the first two, but that's just my inability to absorb anything historical i didn't learn in school, i think. but anyway. all of the books i have read by alyssa cole have been easy to read, as in, i settle in and can read them in a sitting or two as long as life doesn't get in the way. this one didn't feel like that, i kept putting it down in the first few chapters because it was just... a lot. i loved how janeta grew, that was very emotional and realistic and i just loved it. daniel was a bit harder to get a grasp on. i liked them together but needed more development, i didn't really feel their connection as much as i wanted to. there wasn't a whole lot of sexual tension and nothing happens beforehand, (view spoiler)[there's an almost kiss but when they do kiss, they have sex the same night and that is 80%. (hide spoiler)] i don't need sex in my books, but it tends to solidify the connection i feel between the two characters so when that is lacking, so is my investment in their relationship. the romance just felt like it took a back seat in this book, whereas the previous two had that nice balance. this one definitely felt more historical fiction than romance, which was a bummer for me. i am okay with it being a slow burn, i love a good slow burn, but i need to feel the burning before they get together and i didn't. i felt a little underwhelmed by how janeta's secret comes out to daniel. (view spoiler)[i wish we had an inkling he already knew - he thinks a few things over the course of the book but it makes it seem as if he doesn't know, that he's suspicious. (hide spoiler)] so when it comes out, it's a bit underwhelming and glossed over. because of how that comes up and is resolved, and so late in the book, the conflict that does come up afterwards didn't feel as... conflicting. important. i don't know. overall, i liked this one but not as much as i have liked alyssa cole's books in the past. i wanted a little bit more and was left feeling a teensy bit dissatisfied. i'm not mad i read it, i still recommend the series as a whole and will continue to read everything she publishes. ----------------------------------- review to come but unfortunately a teensy bit disappointed in this one. i still love alyssa cole though, and that cover is phenomenal. ARC received from netgalley in exchange for honest review

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Wow. How is every book Alyssa writes even better than the last? How does she do it? I’d seen the author’s note for this book when it first came out because it’s so powerful, but it meant even more reading it after finishing the book and going with these characters through their journey. Janeta is one of the most interesting heroines I’ve ever come across in a historical romance and I defy anyone to use the excuse “a product of their time” (which is BS anyway) after seeing how she’s able to un-learn Wow. How is every book Alyssa writes even better than the last? How does she do it? I’d seen the author’s note for this book when it first came out because it’s so powerful, but it meant even more reading it after finishing the book and going with these characters through their journey. Janeta is one of the most interesting heroines I’ve ever come across in a historical romance and I defy anyone to use the excuse “a product of their time” (which is BS anyway) after seeing how she’s able to un-learn everything she had internalized about her own identity as a biracial daughter of a Cuban slaveowner raised in luxury. My heart went out to her so many times as her work alongside Daniel led her on a path of self-discovery, where she fully realized how much she had been lied to and manipulated her whole life by her family and by a man she thought loved her. But she’s not a victim and she has agency, and that’s what I loved about her and her partnership with Daniel. He gives her empathy when she expected nothing but disgust and anger, and that’s because he grew to understand what an amazing person she is. But honestly... this book is Daniel’s story, for me. I love him more than words. His self-hatred and anger are so deeply-rooted that it causes him to close himself off from everyone else. But his PTSD/trauma are handled with such compassion. Love doesn’t save Daniel or “fix” him—Cole was very clear about this. Daniel had to learn it’s okay to ask for help, to have friends again, to believe in something other than vengeance. He had to believe in that for himself, not for Janeta. I don’t want to say too much more about Daniel because the way it all unfolds in this book is masterful. This is a slow burn romance wrapped in a story about injustice, in finding something to believe in when the country you’re supposed to be fighting for doesn’t want you to survive and fight another day. There’s cynicism here but there’s also hope, and it’s that good that wins out in the end. This is an extraordinary series that has been rightly praised since its first book came out, but this one is really the best of the bunch, IMO. I have no doubt it’ll go down as one of my favorite books of 2019. ETA some content warnings: PTSD/trauma, suicidal ideation, flashbacks to death of a parent, dubious consent (Janeta + previous partner, Henry—he was manipulative so it felt coercive). And, given the setting, not surprising there is obviously a lot of racism, violence, flashbacks to violent treatment of Daniel as a slave and other slaves, present day threats of rape and sexual assault, as well as verbal threats and harassment.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bri

    An Unconditional Freedom is definitely my least favorite of the Loyal League series. I still enjoyed it, but I felt like the romance part could’ve been left out entirely. Even though most of the book built up to them getting together—and how I love a slow burn!—Daniel and Janeta didn’t have much chemistry, imo. Maybe I feel this way because I just couldn’t get into Janeta’s character, even though both she and Daniel had pretty good character arcs. I really loved Daniel’s character, and I honestl An Unconditional Freedom is definitely my least favorite of the Loyal League series. I still enjoyed it, but I felt like the romance part could’ve been left out entirely. Even though most of the book built up to them getting together—and how I love a slow burn!—Daniel and Janeta didn’t have much chemistry, imo. Maybe I feel this way because I just couldn’t get into Janeta’s character, even though both she and Daniel had pretty good character arcs. I really loved Daniel’s character, and I honestly think the book should’ve just been about his life: getting free, being recaptured and re-enslaved, and his eventual membership in the Loyal League. Daniel was hella broody and gruff and cold-hearted for most of the novel, but somehow I really felt for him and was so invested in his future. Other things I didn’t love about this: lots of telling in regards to Janeta’s and Daniel’s internal growth that was clearly shown through their actions toward each other and the people they encountered on their way to kill Jeff Davis (lol), JANETA, and how a lot of the exciting action happened at the very end. Overall I still liked the latest in the Loyal League series and will continue to read once the next one comes out, but this one could’ve gone through another round of edits.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    What I admire most about Alyssa Cole's Loyal League series is her effortless fusion of action, history, and romance. Each book has all the thrills of a spy novel (which each is), but Cole finds hope, vulnerability, and emotion in the inhumanity of the Civil War. Having read the two novels before this, I was surprised by the slow burn of Daniel and Janeta's connection. Having said that, I was also impressed by it. Cole spends a lot of time establishing Daniel's trauma as a free black man who is c What I admire most about Alyssa Cole's Loyal League series is her effortless fusion of action, history, and romance. Each book has all the thrills of a spy novel (which each is), but Cole finds hope, vulnerability, and emotion in the inhumanity of the Civil War. Having read the two novels before this, I was surprised by the slow burn of Daniel and Janeta's connection. Having said that, I was also impressed by it. Cole spends a lot of time establishing Daniel's trauma as a free black man who is captured and sold into slavery as well as Janeta's conflict as a Cuban woman whose father freed and married her enslaved mother. These are complex, traumatized, flawed characters, and their growth throughout the novel felt natural and engaging. Cole is open about how difficult this novel was to write in the political environment of 2018, but the ultimate hope and heart displayed within these pages made it a brilliant book to end the year on. I received an ARC from NetGalley/Kensington Books in exchange for my honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adele Buck

    I've read (and recommended many times) all three of Alyssa Cole's Loyal League series. Add this one to sit by its sisters on the recommended shelf. As with the other two books, there is a lot of nail-biting, heart-pounding suspense and action as Janeta and Daniel navigate both their own histories and the landscape of the Civil War. Janeta and Daniel are both smart, complex people who evolve and grow in such a satisfying way. I was really not sure how they would get around certain obstacles (both I've read (and recommended many times) all three of Alyssa Cole's Loyal League series. Add this one to sit by its sisters on the recommended shelf. As with the other two books, there is a lot of nail-biting, heart-pounding suspense and action as Janeta and Daniel navigate both their own histories and the landscape of the Civil War. Janeta and Daniel are both smart, complex people who evolve and grow in such a satisfying way. I was really not sure how they would get around certain obstacles (both internal and external) and was practically cheering by the end (especially with the return of a certain character from one of the other books - no spoilers). I was given an Advance Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest review.

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