Sweet Release (Blakewell/Kenleigh Family Trilogy, #1)

Sweet Release (Blakewell/Kenleigh Family Trilogy, #1) - Pamela Clare 3.5+ starsI fell in love with Pamela Clare's books with [book:Surrender}, the 1st of the Mackinnon's Rangers series. This is the 1st book in the Kenleight/Blakewell Family Saga, and while, not quite as good as Surrender, it's got it's own appeal.The story takes place in 1730, starting in London with Alec Kenleigh. One evening after visiting his mistress, Alec is kidnapped and taken aboard a slave ship bound for America. His wounds keep him foggy, but with enough fight to sustain several beatings. And when he makes it to the colony of Virginia, he's so ill with fever from his many cuts, he practically dies on the docks.Cassie Blakewell has a tender heart - tender enough that she can't bear the thought of this man dying, so she buys him for less than 10 pounds. She's told that he's Nicolas "Cole" Braden, convicted of rape, and transported to the Americas to be a bondsman. Her purchase of him makes him her property for 14 years.Cassie is running her father's tobacco plantation, while her father is supposedly either in England seeking a new wife or about the Americas looking for breeding horses. In reality, after her mother died giving birth to her 9-year old brother and heir, Jamie, her father simply lost his will. It's difficult to know if he sank into depression or was already suffering the effects of early Alzheimers or a combination of the two. Cassie's hiding her father, who's tended regularly by Takota, the Tuscarroa woman who one day simply appeared and joined the Blakewell family farm. Only a trusted few know the truth. And to keep from being forced into an unwanted marriage and to keep her brother's inheritance, Cassie's forced to take control.She sees Cole as a much needed additional man. But when Alec awakens and learns his fate, you can bet he doesn't accept it easily. He even convinced Cassie to call the Sheriff and allow him to write a letter to England to establish the truth of his identity.In the meantime, Alec/Cole finds his place on the farm and learns a lot about growing tobacco and the neighbors - including the poncy Geoffrey Crichton, Cassie's childhood friend. Geoffrey's father is offensive, beating his slaves and bondsmen alike; he's a rough, cruel task-master. Geoffrey is constantly looking for his father's approval, but despite following in father's footsteps, Geoffrey's schemes always seem to backfire.Geoffrey is determined to marry Cassie. Except that, of course, Cassie and Cole/Alec have been falling in love. Quite a risk for Cassie, since Cole is a convicted rapist! But everyone on the Blakewell farm and most of the neighbors have seen how gentleman-like Cole/Alec is....But how did Alec get in this predicament? Who's responsible? What happens with the letter to England? Will Geoffrey discover Cassie's secret hiding place for her father? So much seems to happen in this book, I almost couldn't stand it! I was only 50% of the way through the book, and I swore it should be coming to an end. But it's well written, and in the reading of it, didn't seem overly long.I was biting my nails at the end, however, and grateful when it did end. It's a romance, so we do have a happy ending, but there's a LOT that occurs before we can get there!