4 out of 4 stars
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Londyn Skye gives a typical forbidden romance an extra twist — the main character is a piano prodigy. The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden follows a slave named Lily as she escapes her master and develops her musical abilities at William Werthington’s estate. How did she escape? James, the son of her master and her childhood friend, sneaks her away to a free state with the guise of sending her to a terrible fate. However, is she truly in the clear? Will her love for James withstand the struggles of racism and a traumatized past?
Only one person is needed for love to bloom. It takes two to have a relationship. As children, Lily and James have an innocent and happy friendship. This is ruined by James’s father who indoctrinates James with his racist ideals. Many years later, after James returns from college, he meets Lily as an adult and finds he still loves her. This pushes him to trick his father into willingly letting Lily leave his land.
The novel is paced well and allows Lily and James to fall in love slowly. Although James has no musical talent, Lily’s musical genius never seems to get in the way of their romance. In fact, their love is enhanced, as James works to have her talents recognized. Her status as a slave limits her ability to perform in local restaurants, so James builds her a stage at the Werthington estate. As she gains recognition, their private romance thrives and they become closer than ever.
Skye skillfully blends the musical and romance plotlines, but the story does not evade cliche romance elements. Lily has a brief secondary love interest and this results in an argument between her and James. Naturally, they confess their love for each other. In addition, Skye abruptly drops several childhood flashbacks into the story. These flashbacks seem unneeded at times. However, they usually give helpful context to the lovers’ inside jokes and is a juxtaposition of their current complicated relationship.
Historical elements and racial tension are the backbone of the story and leave constant reminders of America’s troubled past. Almost every chapter starts with a law from the Slave Code. This serves as a reminder of the lives led by slaves and foreshadows both minor and major plot events. Additionally, some historical figures appear in the novel. Lily is sent an invitation to play piano for the queen of England and she briefly meets Abraham Lincoln.
Londyn Skye did a great job creating a multilayered love story. I gave The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden a well-deserved 4 out of 4 stars. Lily is an admirable character who is loved by all. On the other hand, James can be a bit frustrating and certain people may find his motives confusing. Anyone who wants a complex love story with historical relevance will love this novel. However, I caution against minors reading this novel, as well as the faint of heart. The novel does not shy away from the racist language of the era and has a few explicit scenes.
The Prodigy Slave, Book One: Journey to Winter Garden
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