Review of FREE FALLING by Sherri Neilson (see her website)
Since starting to date Aaron, Denise has been suffering from terrible nightmares. Aaron's tendency to abuse and threaten her certainly doesn't help, but her psychologist suspects that more may be involved. Could Denise's dreams be caused by past life regression? Under hypnosis, Denise finds herself in the person of Olivia Walters in ante bellum South Carolina. There, Olivia is brutalized by her husband, Byron Walters and finds love in the arms of Wilson, one of Byron's slaves. Olivia's efforts to escape Byron's brutality parallel those of Denise. But solving dreams is one issue--finding true happiness in modern America is an even greater challenge for Denise.
FREE FALLING will appeal to readers interested in past life regression and in a view of the old south that is not obscured by the romantic wash that covers much romantic fiction. In author Sheri Neilson's world, the old south is a world of whippings, of spousal abuse, and of a concern for appearances at the price of simple decency. The strong message is reinforced by Neilson's decision to introduce an interracial relationship--that between white Olivia and black Wilson.
Neilson's heroic efforts are partly offset by simplistic writing and a failure to examine what drives the attraction between Wilson and Olivia. Even though Olivia was raised on a relatively liberal plantation, deciding on an interracial love affair would have needed more motivation that was presented in FALLING FREE.
FALLING FREE is a noble effort--attempting to combine a realistic view of the horrors of the institutions of the south with past life regression and abusive spouses. It falls somewhat short of its goals, but that doesn't detract from the power of the effort.
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