By Beverly Jenkins
Release Date: January 31, 2017
First, a confession: I’m an ignorant twit. I avoided Beverly Jenkins’ historicals before because in my head I couldn’t imagine a HEA for a black couple prior to, oh, 1965. This is due to, I’m sure, partly to my education where we studied the Civil War and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Act, but as anyone knows in today’s political climate, our education system leaves much to be desired on what is actually true. Yes, we did have a Civil War; and yes, we’re still a racist society. However as there is truth in that everyone has a hard time in life, it is also true we all experience happiness. There is always hope; there is always love; there is always change toward our better selves and a better society.
That said, I received an ARC of Breathless and was completely intrigued by the premise. The heroine, Portia Carmichael is a hotel manager in Arizona Territory, thriving in a world where she has stability and respect (which she did not have as a child), when a family friend, Kent Randolph comes back into her life. Kent Randolph is a drifter, but now has drifted back home and upon spying the beautiful Portia, who he always called Duchess, believes his drifting days are over, if only he can convince her to stake some roots with him. Portia’s dark childhood still haunts her and she does not want to marry and put her control at the whim of any man, not even a man as tempting and kind as Kent.
And Kent is tempting. He’s a tall drink of water, all things sexy and a little flirty, but also very gentlemanly and respectful, and a little dangerous. I was willing to run off with Kent far faster than Portia was willing to, but Kent is a patient guy. He doesn’t rush her and it’s clear he respects her and wants to forge a relationship that will last. Portia is a heroine to root for--she can’t cook but she can help roof a house, do bookkeeping, and patiently serve the most vile and obnoxious customer in a diplomatic way. She’s smart, passionate, and loving--and it’s easy to see why Kent is determined to win her. She is an equal partner in every way.
Portia’s Uncle Rhine owns the hotel where he partners with a local ranch for a “dude ranch excursion” for guests who come from the city and want to experience the West. The owner of the dude ranch passes away and Rhine purchases the ranch so he can continue the operation. Kent is assigned to run the ranch and he moves there to begin renovations that have been put off due to the previous owner’s age. Meanwhile, some guests from San Francisco come for the dude ranch experience, and Portia, who already has a couple young men in town who are vying for her attention, also has to deal with a matchmaking mama and her son.
There’s some excitement--which I don’t want to expound on because I don’t want to give too much away; however, I love how Ms. Jenkins’ handled the various characters and their interactions with each other. You will definitely be rooting for Portia when she puts these people in their place. There’s societal politics and snobbishness as well as racial and historical issues that were shared in an interesting and informative manner, which added to the depth of the characters who were navigating in a world set with those issue restrictions.
I loved the sibling relationship. Regan is the younger sister, but also the wild one, and when Portia, who has avoided men altogether all this time, finally decides she would like a little one-on-one time with Kent, she first goes to her Aunt Eddy, who while conservative, answers her questions and sends her to talk to Regan, who had asked for the talk some years before. Regan is very informative and playful, but at the same time, being matter-of-fact and honest, there is also caution and how to protect yourself when you’re an unmarried woman who wants to have sex. (I never want to hear another excuse from a contemporary novel about the awkwardness of working in contraception into their scenes. Ms. Jenkins did it beautifully and totally didn’t have to.)
I love how Ms. Jenkins made the story sensual and sexy, her characters not at all prudish, but also made them behave as would be likely in the setting they were. It gives me hope for romance novels--especially modern historicals--that allow for love scenes to happen naturally to the characters and time period.
I can’t wait to read Regan’s story--she is going to be much less conventional than her sister. Now, I need to go and write this title on my list of 2017 Favorites. It’s going on the list!
Thanks, Hellie! I have this one on my tbr. Now I'm even more excited to get started!ReplyDelete
I think you'll enjoy it greatly! Have you read her others?Delete
Thank you so much for being open to reading my work. So appreciative.ReplyDelete
Oh! Hi! I'm just sorry I wasn't open before--but now I shall tell all not to be as silly as I was. I need to find the copy for Rhine and Eddy to read their book...and I'll definitely be checking out Regan's story. So much to learn!Delete
Sounds interesting. The series is titled 'Old West' and I love romance in the Old West, so may try this, especially as an audio version is available.ReplyDelete
"There’s some excitement" .... Does this involve gun fighters or sex in the Arizona wilderness? A good gun fight would clinch it for me .... we only had duals at dawn here in the UK!
"First, a confession: I’m an ignorant twit" ... I'm keeping a copy of this review! LOL
I don't think the UK has a glowing history with regard to racism and slavery but thankfully I think that is mainly history now. With Obahma as the first African American president it is exciting to see an African American writer also excelling on the world stage in this genre. If you can assure me of a quick on the draw baddy or hint at the alternative 'excitement', I will definitely give it a try.
Great review Hellie
Hi Q! It's so good to see you! I hope an audio version is available for you. I think you would like it. There was some excitement in the sense of people being killed and other dangers, yes. :) But there are some nice sensual scenes as well for excitement's sake. There's some definite danger.Delete
Glad you enjoyed my painful confession. *LOL*
I've not read her as yet but sounds good to me!ReplyDelete
I hope you give her a try. I think you'll enjoy it, especially if you like western set novels.Delete
I love your review, Hellie. I haven't read this one yet, but it is on my TBR. Beverly Jenkins is a treasure and a wonderful advocate for romance. I am also a huge fan of her Blessings series--contemporary setting with historical connection. They are not romance, but they have abundant romantic elements. The next one, Chasing Down a Dream, will be released July 4. It is on my book calendar with a star. :)ReplyDelete
I'll have to hunt up a Blessings book to see how they are as well. :) I do enjoy reading more multicultural books, though I tend to gravitate toward those that feature Muslim women or Indian women, because the very traditional culture reminds me of what I grew up with. So a modern girl trying to navigate dating while having a culture that does not allow dating is always amusing and heart-wrenching to me. I find them easier to relate to.Delete