Welcome to Literary Marie's Precision Reviews! Thanks for visiting today's virtual tour stop for Beverly Jenkins' new novel, Forbidden (available January 26, 2016). Beverly Jenkins is the best in African American historical romance fiction. I am very much excited to read, review and participate in this book tour, as well as promote my fellow Cass Technician and Michigander. So pull up a comfy chair, grab your favorite beverage and enjoy the content below.
Rhine Fontaine is the leading man in a new series set in the Old West 1865. He is building a successful life after the Civil War, but one that depends upon him passing as white. His lighter-than-a-paper-bag skin, jet black hair and green eyes make it easy for him to pass. But when he meets the beautiful Eddy Carmichael, he wants to break the façade.
Eddy is forever grateful to Rhine for rescuing her from the desert. But she plans to move as soon as she saves enough money to open her own restaurant in California. That means not giving in to temptation and risking her heart. Maybe it will be worth it to give in for just one night...or will it start a forbidden romance?
Beverly Jenkins makes 19th century fiction so enjoyable through well-developed heroes/heroines and setting descriptions. Her writing is flawless and draws me in without fail. She clearly does research and weaves facts into the storyline. This is the first time I read a fictional story about passing and glad that she tackled such a sensitive topic with a balance of romance and history. Now I know more about the Wild, Wild West through the eyes of memorable characters, Rhine and Eddy.
Whether you are a bookheart that loves romance novels or just a history buff, Forbidden should be added to your TBR pile. Rhine Whiners, this one is for us! I especially liked the mention of Sable (Rhine's sister) and Raimond LeVeq from the 1998 novel Through the Storm. I heart when authors give us sneak peeks into the current lives of previous main characters. Anyhoot, resisting love and giving in to the forbidden is a story I recommend you cuddle up with this winter. In fact, I finished it in one night while sitting in front of my fireplace, wrapped in a snuggie, sipping hot tea. Don't just take my word for it though; read the excerpt below for yourself. Then thank me later.
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Published: January 2016
Q&A with Author Beverly Jenkins:
Q. Beverly, please tell us a bit about the new book and series.
A. The book is titled Forbidden and is set in 1875 Virginia City, Nevada. Our hero, Rhine Fontaine is a saloon owner and a pillar of the community. Our heroine Eddy Carmichael is a cook from Denver and is traveling to California to fulfill a dream of opening her own restaurant when things go awry. She is robbed by a man impersonating a priest and left to die in the desert. Rhine finds her. Books 2 and 3 will focus on Eddy’s nieces Portia and Regan.
Q. Did you do anything different with your research this time around?
A. I didn’t do anything out of the norm for me. A recently conducted archeological dig in Virginia City unearthed the remains of a high end 1870s saloon founded by a man of color. It, like many of the city’s other business establishments was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1875. I based Rhine’s saloon on that real saloon.
Q. What about the Wild West called you?
A. Who doesn’t like the scope and sweep of the Wild West? I’ve written quite a few westerns. That I get to add to the standard lore stories about men and women who looked like me along with the Buffalo Soldiers, the all Black townships of Kansas and the black and the brown outlaws and lawmen of Indian Territory makes it even more of a blast.
Q. Who did you have more of a connection with while writing, the hero or the heroine?
A. It depends on the story. Sometimes the story belongs to the hero and at other times the heroines. It can also belong to both. I let the characters decide.
Q. Can you share a small teaser from your favorite scene of the book, or describe your favorite scene?
A. Eddy awakened in a four-poster in a large room barely lit by a turned down lamp. Having no idea where she was or how she came to be there, she shook the cobwebs dulling her thinking and noticed she was wearing a man’s shirt! Perplexed, her eyes moved around the room to a well-appointed sitting area and then to the face of a White man watching her from one of the chairs. Panic flared. She snatched the blanket to her neck and she drew back fearfully.
“Don’t be afraid. You’re safe. I’m Rhine Fontaine. My friend Jim and I found you in the desert.”
Confused, she tried to force herself to calm down so she could make some sense of this, but she couldn’t. Watching him warily, she asked, “Where am I?” Her throat was dry as sand. She wanted water badly, but needed to solve the mystery of this first.
“And this place is?”
Her eyes went wide. “I need to go, I can’t stay here.”
“Maybe in a few days, but right now—”
Alarmed, she didn’t let him finish. She swung her legs over the side of the bed. Her mind was so foggy she wasn’t sure what was happening, but she knew she had to get away.
He stood and said urgently, “No! You’ll fall!”
He was right. The moment she stood, she was hit by a wave of weakness so strong her legs folded as if they were made of cards. She cried out involuntarily as she hit the floor.
He walked over to her. “As I said, maybe in a few days. Are you okay?”
Drawing away again, she looked up and recognized the face of the man from her dream. She stilled. Had it been a dream? “I’ll scream!”
He sighed. “If you feel that’s necessary, go right ahead, but I’m not going to hurt you—in any way. When you’re done, I can help you back into bed, or carry you to the facilities, whichever you’d prefer.”
Heated embarrassment burned her cheeks. Her needs were not something she talked about to a stranger, and especially not a White man stranger. “I can walk.”
“No, you can’t, but if you want to try, I’ll wait.”
At that moment she saw her bare legs sticking out from beneath the long-tailed shirt, and also realized she had on no underthings! Not drawers. No shift. As quickly as her weakened state allowed, she reached up and pulled the blanket down. Ignoring him as best she could, she covered her bare legs. This was getting worse and worse.
“As I said, my name’s Rhine. And yours?”
“Eddy. Eddy Carmichael.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Carmichael. You gave my partner Jim and me quite a scare out there in the desert, but I’m pleased to see you are recovering.”
Then her muddled brain remembered Jack Nash’s perfidy and her walk across the desert, but nothing else. “How long have I been here?”
“Four or five hours.”
Lord, she was thirsty. “May I have some water please?” she croaked. She felt so weak. It was not a state she was accustomed to.
He poured her a glass from a pitcher on the nightstand and handed it to her. “Slowly,” he advised softly. “Just a little for now.”
She nodded and took a few short swallows. The water tasted so good and she was so thirsty she wanted to down the entire offering, but heeding his advice, she took only a few more slow pulls. Done, she handed the glass back and her parched throat savored the relief. “Why am I so weak?”
“Walking the Forty Mile Desert under a full sun takes its toll. So, Miss Eddy—facilities or back to bed?”
She hated to admit it but she really needed choice number one. Thoroughly scandalized, she confessed softly, “The facilities, but I can walk. Just point me in the right direction.” Looking around, she didn’t see a screen of any kind.
“It’s at the end of the hallway.”
“Oh,” she said disappointedly. Still bent on getting there under her own power, though, she wrestled with the blanket in an attempt to fashion it around her waist. Trying to get it out from under her hips and secured without treating him to another show of her legs was a struggle, however. He’d seen more of them than any man ever before.
“Do you want to go today?” he asked in a tone of muted amusement.
She shot him a glare. Reasonably certain the blanket was secured, she said, “Yes.” Now she just had to get up. No small task. The fullness of the blanket made it difficult to get her feet planted so she could stand. She decided she’d use the side of the bed to give her the leverage she needed. She scooted closer.
“You always this stubborn, Miss Carmichael?”
“It’s called determination, Mr. Fontaine.”
“I stand corrected.”
Giving him another withering glare, she grabbed hold of the bed’s wooden side panel and began working herself to her knees. She made a bit of progress, but her weakened state conspired against her efforts. Refusing to surrender and breathing harshly, she slowly inched herself to a standing position, careful not to get her feet fouled by the swath of blanket, and promptly keeled face forward onto the mattress.
Chuckling softly, he picked her up from behind and placed her gently into the cradle of his strong arms. He smiled softly. “It’s called stubbornness.”
Rolling her eyes, she allowed herself to be carried from the room.
Q. What is next for you? What are you working on now?
A. Next up for me is the June debut of the 7th book in my Blessings series which is women’s fiction. The title: Stepping To A New Day. I’m presently working on Portia’s story which I hope will be out in the fall.
LM: Thank you for taking the time to talk about Forbidden.
BJ: Thanks so much for this opportunity to meet you and your readers.
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Disclaimer: A special thanks to the publisher Avon for the ARC and to Lisa Filipe of Tasty Book Tours. This book was received directly from the publisher for review and tour purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.