Beverly Jenkins is the Shakespeare of romance; not only is she a master of the genre, but she steeps her stories in history. Don’t run off – the history is the potatoes, the romance is the gravy, and Jenkins serves up both in perfect proportions.
Rebel is the first in the ‘Women Who Dare’ duology. Set in New Orleans during Reconstruction, it tells the story of Valinda Lacy, a teacher to the newly emancipated. New Orleans’ entire economy collapsed after the Civil War, and racism abounded. When some angry locals vandalize Valinda’s school, Captain Drake LeVeq steps in to help. Make no mistake, Valinda is no simpering woman in need of rescuing, and once she’s back on her feet, she gives Drake a run for his money.
I had little knowledge of the realities of Reconstruction, and I will forever be grateful to Jenkins for opening my eyes while simultaneously providing plenty of swoon-worthy moments along the way.
In this 2017 interview with Shondaland, Beverly Jenkins says this,
“I call it “edutainment”: entertainment and education. Romance is such a broad genre that you can do so much with it. I mean, basically we’re writing about people and their feelings and people having second chances and people taking chances. I think it’s one of the best genres out there. So, if you can put that history along with these great women that we write about, and show that female empowerment, and show women making decisions that changed not only their lives, but maybe their families’ lives — the history becomes a lot more palatable. There’s no test on Friday, so [the readers just] drink up the history. They just inhale it.”
Find your copy of Rebel from your favorite retailer.
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