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The first thing that gripped me about this story was the stark and depressing description of the slave boat and the people trapped there. The author tells us from the very beginning that this book is a work of fiction and yet, there were times I felt I was right beside Mamadou Masamba on his long journey.
Historical stories can be dull in their need to describe every building, article of clothing or food that is consumed. I didn't feel that way with this book. Every detail was there for a purpose to enrich the story of Ben and Tobias.
Tobias (Mamadou) was confused in his new world. Rightly so. He had lost everything and they took his name as well. He struggled to understand the workings of the plantation and how it was possible for one man to own another. His remembrances of his life in Africa, at times brought comfort but mostly kept his desire to return home alive in his heart.
Ben Lee, the son of the plantation owner, was a slave to his upbringing. Importing slaves had been outlawed, yet men like his father kept buying from slave traders. In his heart, he knew it was wrong but he didn't know to escape the future his father had cast for him.
From the moment Ben laid eyes on the young black slave, he had to have him. Tobias brought out the hidden desires Ben had kept buried inside for a long time. Though Ben owned Tobias, he didn't treat him as a slave which caused problems for both young men. They became friends and then so much more.
Hardships came and Ben makes the brave decision to take Tobias and run. The last half of the story focused on their dangerous quest to find freedom. Dealing with the Underground Railroad system and yet trying to keep their feelings for each other hidden as they traveled.
I won't given anything else away. I enjoyed this story for several reasons. I'm a Civil War buff. I am from the parts of Kentucky mentioned in the story. My ancestors were tobacco growers, too. Though to my knowledge, my ancestors never owned any slaves. And at its heart, it is a MM love story between two beautiful characters. For most, I enjoyed this book for the excellent writing and storytelling skills of Bryan T. Clark.
He took a fictional story and made me ache for these two young men who were forced to exist in a world torn apart by bigotry and war. Reading this book will make you feel many things...regret won't be one of them.