"Path of Freedom" by Jennifer Hudson Taylor, Book 3 in Quilts of Love Series
In this pre-Civil War story of transporting slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad, a special quilt plays an important role in paving the road to "safe houses" where supporters assist in concealing slaves on their journey to freedom. The Quakers were operatives in these missions, and Bruce Millikan is active and experienced in delivering escaped slaves to freedom. In his hometown of Greensboro, NC Bruce appeals for assistance in the transport of a young slave couple to Pennsylvania. To complicate matters the young wife is pregnant. In order to safely carry out the mission Bruce seeks the assistance of a midwife in the event that the pregnant slave would deliver her child while traveling. Flora Saferight is a young midwife who is sought to accompany Bruce in the transport of his "cargo." Bruce Millikan and Flora Saferight shared a contentious, discordant childhood, a result of Bruce's name calling and hurtful behavior. They ultimately reach a mutual agreement, and Flora and her younger sister prepare to accompany Bruce and his cargo through the Underground Railroad. Flora's mother had created a freedom quilt with unique and helpful maps sewn into it to assist in their journey to safe houses along the dangerous route. A special wagon designed for the express purpose of transporting slaves featured a false bottom which concealed the slaves underneath the wagon itself. Numerous dangers are encountered, challenging the fortitude of the travelers. Through prayer and the guidance God provides, a developing respect begins to break down old walls of mistrust and resentment that Flora has harboured over the years.
Jennifer Hudson Taylor weaves a fascinating fictional tale of personal friction that progresses to acceptance and friendship through forgiveness and faith. Combined with the dangers ever present along the path to safety and freedom, realistic events are combined by the portrayal of historical events in our nation's history. Personal character development takes precendence over the roles of the Underground Railroad and the story quilts that contained secret codes thought to direct "conductors" to safe houses and unknown routes. I would have enjoyed more description of the Underground Railroad and the quilts thought to have been useful with the Underground Railroad, but I found this to be a romantic and suspenseful adventure.