Alyssa Cole returns to the 19th century in An Unconditional Freedom, the third and final installment of her Loyal League series, which follows an unconventional interracial romance that blooms during the dangerous peak of the Civil War.
Wealthy and sheltered Cuban Janeta Sanchez is forever self-conscious about having grown up in a “grey” category of society. Quite literally neither black nor white, her mixed heritage is seen as beautifully and dangerously exotic to the white Americans around her. To her confusion, her Latinx heritage is simultaneously praised for the stereotypical ideas of its attractiveness and passion by men who would harm her and denounced by loved ones and family members as being an unlucky and shameful target for hateful people. It is only when Janeta is forced to join the Loyal League as a double agent to save her beloved Papi that she realizes she may have been misled about the righteousness of the Confederate cause all along and has possibly aided some very treacherous individuals through her decisions.
Soon Janeta finds herself in the fray alongside the educated, handsome Daniel Cumberland, a recently liberated man who, although born free, was kidnapped and forced into a brief period of slavery. This traumatic experience has resulted in tremendous levels of mistrust, prejudice and apathy. Haunted by a plethora of “what-ifs” about his childhood love, Loyal League agent Elle Burns, and the fact that Elle’s white husband helped him regain his freedom, Daniel is reluctant to share any sort of sentiment or affection with Janeta, but their physical magnetism and connection over being outcasts soon bonds them.
After being betrayed by her manipulative “lover” (and Confederate conspirator) Henry and having to constantly avoid the lecherous advances of both Yanqui and Rebel soldiers, the last thing on Janeta’s mind is pursuing a new romance. Similarly, Daniel’s emotional and psychological baggage, as well as his suspicions that Janeta is harboring an important secret, leaves him wary of the alluring new recruit he’s been assigned to mentor. But Janeta and Daniel find themselves gravitating toward each other, and soon their bond reveals itself to be more than just physical attraction. As the pair begin to work together to track down Jefferson Davis and put a stop to slavery across the South, Janeta must question who she is doing this for, calling into question her true identity and her ever-growing attraction to the gruff, intelligent and fiercely loyal Daniel. Similarly, Daniel must decide whether to open his heart to Janeta and risk rejection, or keep his walls up and risk betrayal as the war rages on around them.
An Unconditional Freedom seamlessly melds historical fiction with a titillating tale of espionage, all the while remaining true to the expectations of the setting and building strong, vivid characters that will have readers rooting for them after just a few chapters.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Alyssa Cole about An Unconditional Freedom.