Release Date: May 28, 2019
Series: Women Who Dare
Heat Level: Hot
Imprint: Avon Books
Valinda Lacey is a northern schoolteacher in New Orleans, helping newly freed slaves learn how to read. She encounters danger as many in the town are not welcome to the new opportunities that are afforded to the newly freed. She meets Drake Le Veq and his family as they help her out of a jam.
Her path is set. She will marry a man of choosing who is currently away in Paris for a business venture. Drake’s continuously flirting with her makes it hard for her to focus on trying to find her way in the south. She starts to love it there and envisions a future that is not quite like the one she thought she wanted.
This story is heavily focused on the sexual tension between Drake and Valinda. The romance is there but it comes a bit later which is unusual for a Beverly Jenkins’s novel. One of the main conflicts surrounding Val’s desire to stay in New Orleans was the fact that her intended, Cole, was to arrive early and take her back home to wed.
He finally does show up and the issue is handled with one conversation. We learn of their true relationship so I never understood why it would be an issue since Val knew early on that she was in love with Drake. With the departure of Cole, Val is worried her family won’t approve of her plans to stay in New Orleans. When they arrive it is dealt with in a page or two at the end with a quick resolution after a bit of a twist.
The issue of the hate group harassing Val went nowhere as well. I truly love Ms. Jenkins’s stories but this is not my favorite. The sexual pull and the intrigue of the town learning how to move forward after the war kept my attention.
Overall, Beverly Jenkins is the best in the game for American historical romance featuring African Americans. I would still say it is enjoyable but not completely satistifying. I’m willing to move forward with the rest of the series.