Freedom's Price by Suzanne Brockmann
(Loveswept #873, $3.50, PG) ISBN 0-553-44599-5
Reader, be warned; in order to discover Freedom's Price you will need to have a very forgiving temperament to overlook the glaring inconsistencies in this book.

Liam Bartlett, gorgeous columnist of great renown for the Boston Globe is apparently wrestling with writer's block. It's unclear why it happened or if his prolonged incarceration in a prison camp in San Salustiano has anything to do with it. Fortunately, he has an understanding boss who reruns old stories for him. (Have I ever mentioned that I have the world's greatest editor, but even she is not that understanding.) But I have wandered from the description of Liam.

He can best be described as a wounded warrior on the road to redemption; however, his problem is that he is mired down, and wallowing in it. It's not like he's just gotten out of the prison camp and returned to this country, since years seemed to have passed since he spent six months in the tent of Marisala Bolivar recovering from his physical wounds.

Marisala is a beautiful lady from the landed gentry. At the age of 17, she led a group of freedom fighters in her war-torn country. The revolution over, her surviving family in the personage of her uncle has sent her to Boston to get a college education. She is now 22.

This novel opens as Marisala is being told by student housing that they have no record of a room assignment for her for the coming academic year. Liam, who has accompanied her to registration, sees no alternative but to offer his apartment as temporary lodging.

I could see this coming a mile away, but what I didn't expect was that Marisala's uncle would ask Liam to serve not only as her guardian but also as her mentor in turning a revolutionary into a lady. Twenty-two year old women don't have guardians unless they are legally incompetent in our culture, and the Pygmalion I'm familiar with didn't start with a girl from the upper class.

Why would anyone believe that a woman of Marisala's caliber needs a mentor with advice on how to dress and act? And worse yet, why would anyone of this woman's obvious intelligence calmly sit back and accept it?

Liam's problems are not postured as PTSD, and since he had some productive years since returning, why suddenly is he enjoying his misery?

As Liam and Marisala muddle along with their internal conflicts, it is hard to relate to the anguish. Liam expresses no clear goals, and Marisala is also unhappy with the naiveté of her fellow freshmen and the course content of her classes. And why is this a surprise? The novel wanders without direction until it finally concludes.

If this is your first book by Brockmann, please do not think this is representative of her talent; she is a much, much better writer than is evident from this story. If you are a fan, do yourself a favor and pick up Love With the Proper Stranger instead.

--Thea Davis

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