The Bachelor and the Beauty Queen
FORBIDDEN - Beverly Jenkins
Avon Book/Forever

February 2016
REVIEWER:  Beverly Jackson | RATING:  A
REVIEW: In 1870, freed slaves, despite the obstacles placed before them, were determined to achieve what they could only dream about in slavery. For twenty-seven year old Eddy Carmichael, it is making the perilous journey to California to open her own restaurant. Trusting the wrong person has her stranded in the Nevada desert barely clinging to her life, when she is rescued by wealthy businessman, Rhine Fontaine. As Eddy recuperates in Rhine’s room, there is no deny a budding attraction and respect between the two. Eddy pushes aside her feelings for charmingly handsome Rhine because as soon as she has her strength and the means, she will be continuing on her journey to San Francisco. More importantly, Rhine is a “white” man with a fiancé and the times say that she cannot be more than a dalliance to him. Rhine, the son of a slave and her master, has chosen the path of “passing” to build the lifestyle he coveted growing up and work as an insider for the advancement of African Americans. Sparkling dialogue, furtive glances, genuine friendship, and unrelenting sexual tension have both Eddy and Rhine reconsidering what they want out of their lives. Will their hearts lead them to a happily-ever-after?

Ms. Jenkins’s masterful storytelling, exquisite writing and keen knowledge of American history provides readers with a sensitive and realistic portrayal of two people falling heads-over-feels in love with all of the emotions and complications that accompany the time and place and status. Eddy is a strong determined heroine who understands the world and time she lives in but is unafraid to take chances in order to fulfill her dreams. She understands there could be setbacks but you just pick yourself up and keep moving towards your goal. But Eddy is thrown for a loop when her heart becomes involved. And then she needs to decide whether to take a safe loveless path or take a chance on love. While passing seemed the right choice for Rhine to make after the Civil War, he became more uncomfortable of the pretense he needed to keep up and to denying him who he really is. The growing love and affection between Eddy and Rhine is an inspiring tale that allowed them to move past the pain in their lives and to relish in the positivity of love. While the love scenes may seem to more chaste than some readers may like, it does not take away from the desire exuded between the couple.

This book is set mainly in the up-and-coming mining town of Virginia City, Nevada. Ms. Jenkins paints a vivid portrait of the time giving readers an in-depth picture of the beauty, cruelty, and the uncertain complexities of the time. As always, I enjoyed how the history was integrated into the storyline and focuses on the celebration of life.

FORBIDDEN is the first book in the Old West Series. It is a welcome and fresh look in the Western Romance genre. Overall, this heartfelt story soars with dynamite characters, and a delightful ending that will have readers breathing a sigh of contentment. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

24th March 2016 |