by Sherri Neilson

October 2002
ISBN: 1-59129-841-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Publish America
Trade Paperback

Free Falling is the tale of one womanís foray into past life regression and the stunning portrayal of what she finds lurking in her past.

This story, told in first person, begins with Denise our narrator. Denise has dreams of falling into a sea of blackness, waking her in utter terror night after night. She also has a boyfriend Arron who is 'hand happy', and controlling. She seeks the help of a counselor who suggests hypnosis and delving into past life regression. When Denise agrees to be hypnotized, she regresses to the year eighteen sixty, a time when slaves were nothing more than possessions.

In 1860,in South Carolina, Olivia is about to marry Byron Walters, plantation owner. Olivia is of gentle breeding and raised on a plantation that was kind to the slaves, slaves who were more like family members. Byron is a cruel and vicious slave owner, and Olivia fights him every step of the way with righteous indignation! When Olivia finds her Uncle has received money in return for her marriage, money he needs to survive, she is trapped in a marriage riddled with abuse. The only solace Olivia finds is with Wilson, a new slave that she eventually falls in love with.

This is a coarse, raw account of one woman, who no matter the cost, will not abide her husbandís cruelty to his slaves. Though sheltered all of her life from the crass treatment these people suffered, Olivia forges a path to justice. I had a knot in my stomach every time she endured the wrath of Byron because she had interfered with an unjust whipping. I held my breath when she began to fall in love with Wilson a slave; I felt her utter desperation and her despair over a love that could absolutely never come to fruition. This happens on the cusp of Lincolnís Presidency and the beginning of the Underground Railroad, where love blooms and despair is an everyday occurrence. Donít be fooled by the history either, it never overwhelmed the story, it was background noise, fed to you in bits and pieces only in relation to the characters.

This was not your traditional romance, not a heart or flower to be found. No pretty words or impetuous mating, just a grab your gut style of writing that was succinct and utterly engaging. For the duration of the book I was Olivia, and there is no better writing than the kind that emotionally ties you to the characters.

I remain astounded at just how powerful this book was. Two thumbs up to Ms. Neilson for an emotionally gripping, heart wrenching tale of a love destined to be remembered!

Reviewed in April 2003 by Connie.

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