Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: BEFORE THE DAWN by Beverly Jenkins

From Beverly Jenkins Online!

No Place for a Lady

Leah Barnett can't believe how far fate has carried her: from Boston to the towering Colorado Rockies... and into the life of an angry, ruggedly sexy man.

Ryder Damien is not about to welcome this beauty with open arms, however, especially since Leah was the one who won the affection of Ryder's late father and now may inherit his considerable wealth.  But when she stands before him in the flesh - proud, vulnerable, and intoxicatingly lovely - desire replaces hatred in Ryder's heart.  Yet can passion survive this wild land and its dangerous men...and the most breathtaking peril:  untamed love?

My thoughts...

Leah Barnett inherited her mother's tavern, the Black Swan, upon her mother's death. The Black Swan was a Boston establishment that serviced sailors of color. At the books opening, Leah is struggling to run the business, barely getting by on the money coming in.  Louis Montague (Monty), her mother's longtime boyfriend, is near death and convinces Leah to marry him so that she may claim his Colorado estate. It's not until the marriage is official that Montague surprises Leah with the revelation that he abandoned two sons when he left Colorado.  Determined to fulfill his wishes, Leah boards a train to Colorado with Cecil Lee (Monty's close friend).

When she arrives in Colorado, she is confronted by Montague's past in the form of his son, Ryder Damien. Ryder is angry with Monty and blames him for the death of his mother, who is a Cheyenne woman. And the make matters worse, Ryder accuses her of marrying his father for money.  Although Ryder is rude and hostile, Leah can't help but be affected by the longhaired Ryder.  Determined to fulfill Monty's wishes, Leah continues on her quest to claim the inheritance but is hampered by legal issues.  There's a court judgment against the estate that she must pay off.  If she is unable to pay the debt, she may forfeit her freedom and her inheritance. Ryder offers her the money...if she'll be with him.

Before the Dawn is an intriguing tale from front to back. The book had everything I liked in a romance—lies, scandal, regrets, secrets, mystery, and peril around the corner.  It was an adventure.  It raised the hairs on the back of a 'can't put the book down until I get to the end because I just want to see who the danger is' kind of way.  I enjoyed the developing relationship between Ryder and Leah.  I also appreciated the Western United States history and Native American history weaved into the story. I enjoyed the breathtaking scenery as well.  Characters like Seth (the other brother), Cecil, and Samuel made this even better.

Leah was feisty and definitely up to the challenge of defending Monty's wishes and herself.  But who in their right mind could resist Ryder? He was the bomb. And I'm glad she couldn't resist him for long because their love affair was akin to a thrilling spin on rollercoaster.  Loved it. 

This is the first book by Ms. Jenkins that I listened to on CD.  I have to say, I enjoyed the experience. The reader added a layer to the written word and I found myself wishing I could get my hands on other audiobooks of Ms. Jenkins novels.  In fact, after this one, I picked up Winds of the Storm on CD.  If you like a fast paced adventure with a HOT romance, you'll love Before the Dawn.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: THROUGH THE STORM by Beverly Jenkins

From Beverly Jenkins Online!

Raimond Le Veq needed to marry to gain his inheritance and restore the fortunes of the House of Le Veq, the proud Black New Orleans family whose wealth had been ravaged by the War Between the States.  Still wounded by the double-cross of the only woman he ever came close to loving, he gave the choice of bride to his mother.  But he never expected that she would pick Sable Fontaine -- the beautiful former slave he could not allow himself to trust again.

Betrayed and sold to a cruel neighbor, Sable did whatever it took to escape.  With the spirits of her royal African ancestors guiding her, she made a bold bid for freedom and won.  But along the way she had to hurt the charming Union Major Le Veq, who had romanced her and championed her.  Now fate has brought them back together in a marriage of convenience.  Can she convince Raimond she was never a rebel spy, and that this time, she'd choose him above all else?

My thoughts...

The book opens in Georgia in 1864.  Sable Fontaine, a house slave sold for $800 to an evil man, escapes.  Along the way, she meets Raimond Le Veq at a slave camp.  Immediately lured in my Sable's green eyes, Raimond falls for her.  When Sable's freedom is threatened, she takes off rather than risk being sent back into slavery, leaving an angry and heartbroken Raimond behind.

Years later, the two meet again in New Orleans when Raimond's mother introduces Sable to him as the woman she wants him to marry.  Raimond cannot hide his anger at Sable, but agrees to the marriage.  Although Raimond doesn't trust her, he can't help but be intrigued by her.  Eventually, the marriage of convenience turns into one of love.

Sable was a remarkable, resourceful, intelligent woman.  She was a descendent of African Queens, and through her story, I learned about African royalty.  Raimond was a brat, but he was HOT! He was so tender, so fiercely loyal, so dominating (in a good way)... I couldn't help but love him. The two scorched up the pages.  Amidst the turmoil in their lives, they manage to get past the hurt and anger and just revel in their love for each other. 

There was never a dull moment with this delightful cast of characters.  In this book, Ms. Jenkins, introduced us to the Le Veq clan.  (Well, maybe reintroduced for those of us who'd read Indigo.)  The Le Veq brothers were equally handsome yet completely different from each other.  They also provided a bit of comic relief. And just so you know, the Le Veq brothers are also featured in Winds of the Storm and Captured.  Also, Ms. Jenkins gave us a treat by bringing Galeno and Hester Vachon (from Indigo) back to life and giving us a glimpse into their life during this period.

Beverly Jenkins is an exceptional writer with a knack for storytelling.  I guess it should be no surprise that I loved this book.  Through the Storm was so awesome, I read again after I finished—just in case I missed something.  Once again, I was transported into a world I could only imagine in my dreams.  Ms. Jenkins does a wonderful job of capturing a reader's attention with vivid imagery, memorable characters, and Black history.  I highly recommend Through the Storm to anyone looking for a fabulous, historical romance.

My rating: 5 stars