Severed Knot

Written by Cryssa Bazos
Review by Katie Stine

January 1652, during the English Civil War: Scottish leader Iain Locharbaidh Johnstone is a prisoner of war in Westminster, until he is sold into indenture. The heroine, Mairead O’Coneill, lives with her cousins in Ireland, heartbroken from an ill-advised tryst. Soon the English arrive to appropriate the estate, and sell its inhabitants into servitude. Mairead and Iain meet on the ship to Barbados and are sold to the same plantation. Mairead’s lack of virginity spares her from the whorehouse, and her average looks spare her from the young master’s lust. Iain’s backbreaking work in the fields is unsustainable, given his pride, and the only thing left is to try to escape.

This is a well-written historical romance, but those accustomed to reading genre romance might find the pacing slow. The emphasis is on historical details, bleak and desperate, and though the couple does get a happily-ever-after, it is at great cost. I would recommend this for those interested in the English Civil War and indentured servitude, but not slavery. The African people appear for background suffering as examples of how much worse it could be for the white characters. A warning: there are frequent mentions/scenes of rape, and multiple murders.