I am killing my resolution of reading new to me authors. Yes, technically Beverly Jenkins is a new to me author, she has a sizable back log of books and I did skim the first book in this series last year when it came out but sadly never got around to reviewing it. I’ll fix that mistake right now and tell you Forbidden (Old West #1) is also a 4 star read! Yep, I was so intrigued by Rhine and Eddy who were featured in book 1 and have important cameo roles in book 2, that as soon as I finished Breathless, I went back to where it all started. I guess technically, you’re getting a twofer today! In Forbidden, you get the story of Rhine, a mixed heritage man, passing as white and completely adrift inside his own head. You can feel his struggles as he tries to figure out where he belongs. Eddy, our heroine, is as tough as she is smart and beautiful. Watching their love blossom through all of the chaos of the time and the tumult in Rhine’s head is equal parts difficult and uplifting. Unconditional love is a wonderful thing. If you need further encouragement to read this series from the beginning, Nikki listed Forbidden as her Cherry on Top pick in Feb 2016. When Nikki and I agree on a book, you should probably pay attention to us! Admittedly, my list of historical books read about this particular period in time, the Westward Expansion, Old West, is painfully short and until now, completely devoid of characters of color but I can promise, I am eagerly awaiting Regan’s story. Alas, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Portia and Regan Carmichael are the daughters of a whore sent to live with their uncle and aunt, Rhine and Eddy. Terrible things happen and the newly formed family are forced to relocate to the Arizona Territory. Breathless is set about 15 years after Forbidden. Portia and her sister are strong, well educated, trailblazing members of society, the fragile shell of their rocky start is long gone, except for that wall Portia has built around her heart. She was old enough to truly understand what her mother did with men prior to being mailed to her aunt and well, some things are tough to shake. Portia is a bookkeeper and runs her family’s hotel. She’s self sufficient and perfectly happy with the idea of growing old as a spinster. Her sister Regan has other ideas of the mail order bride variety which is why I am chomping at the bit to get that book!
Kent Randolph worked with Rhine back in Virginia City prior to the family’s upheaval. The son of a wealthy man who was destined to be a doctor, Kent has a very colorful past, devoid of any roots that could possibly tie him to one place for too long. A stint in a Mexican prison cured him of his rambling ways and now Kent is ready to find a home. Color him surprised when he happens upon Portia who is no longer the shy twelve year old he left behind. Nope, his Duchess grew up nicely and that desire to plant some roots really takes hold after their first adult encounter. Kent’s cautious but steadfast pursuit of Portia lands him firmly in the swoony hero category. His admiration of Portia never wavers, he’s as blindsided by the attraction as much as she is but he knows a good thing when he sees it, and Portia is more than just a good thing, she’s the best. Smart as a whip and gentile sass for days, poor Kent never knew what hit him.
Ms. Jenkins does a wonderful job inserting small but powerful details of history relevant to the time period. We are Post-Emancipation Proclamation in this setting and she gives us history without making it feel like we are reading a history book. You know I love a book that makes me dig deeper and investigate further, well Ms. Jenkins encourages that behavior at the end of her book. Topics and events touched on in Breathless are further discussed in her Reader’s Note. (not meaning to get political but I think we’d all do well to revisit our history lest we repeat the truly horrendous parts) She encourages you to learn more about the great Apache chief Geronimo, as well as African – American women fighting for the suffrage movement. The even better news is, she plans on giving us more on that fight in the future. Until we get Regan’s story, I’ll just savor what Beverly Jenkins has given us with Forbidden and Breathless. Both are beautifully written, sweeping love stories set during one of our hardest times in American history. Her attention to detail is impeccable, her dialogue is funny and heartwarming and her storytelling is breathtaking.
To share the wealth, I’m giving away my slightly dogeared and gently used paperback copy of Breathless. Enter the rafflecopter below.
Smooches,Tags: 4 stars, Beverly Jenkins, Giveaway, Historicals, Old West series, Western Romance