Rose is 25, a spinster, having spent the last twelve years taking care of her family since the death of her mother. Her father is facing financial ruin and imprisonment because of a large unpaid debt. In order to pay off the debt and save her family, Rose sells herself as an indentured servant for four years, a move which takes her to the city of Baltimore in the American Colonies. She is accompanied by her younger sisters, Mariah and Lily. As they leave England, Rose pledges to keep the family together, but when they arrive in America they are all auctioned off separately.
Rose finds herself deep in Indian country, the bondservant of a trader, Eustice Smith. On the journey to Smith’s trading post, she meets Nathan Kinyon, who is attracted to her and wants to purchase her indenture. Rose is attracted to the handsome man in the fine clothes, despite his rough speech and the fact that he is not a Christian.
Rose's Pledge is told almost entirely from Rose's point of view, which lacks variety, particularly as I did not personally find Rose to be an especially likeable character – she constantly worried that her sisters might not be seeing to their spiritual education, yet never read the Bible herself, although she did pray. She improved as the novel progressed, and she did eventually come to see that her actions in selling herself had been rash. While Rose's Pledgeended nicely, the first half of the book dragged as Rose was constantly travelling and not much happened. Perhaps this was meant to be an allegory of life, how nothing much seems to be happening as you go through it, but when you look back a whole range of small events have influenced it.
I had a few problems with this book. Firstly, the beginning felt somewhat contrived, as though the authors were trying to find any excuse for the challenges they were about to inflict upon the heroine and her sisters. Secondly, I just found Rose a difficult character to like, so really didn't care much what happened to her. Finally, while the book was generally well researched, there were a few things that didn’t fit with the stated time (1753). Once I find one 'fact' that doesn't fit the time, I start wondering what else is wrong, and this pulls me out of the story. As a result, while I found Rose's Pledgeto be a pleasant enough read, I didn’t think it was outstanding. Rose's Pledgeis the first book in the Harwood House series, and the second, Mariah’s Quest, is due out mid-2012. Will I read it? Based on what I saw of Mariah in this book, I don't think so.
Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.