Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
This was my first Beverly Jenkins novel and won’t be my last.
Although I’ve been aware of Jenkins for a very long time, my focus has been so finely narrowed to all things British [particularly to keep my writer’s voice–which is Texan in my head–more in touch with a British tone and sensibility] that I have dipped into her oeuvre, until now.
Why now? Because on the cover, it looks like it might be a multi-racial couple, which intrigued me, especially in an historical western. [Note: I have so much trouble with a/an historical as a grammer usage. I know that traditionally an historical is correct, but more and more a historical is acceptable. Sometimes I type a historical [as I just did] and it grates at my inner ear, and I correct it to an [again, as I just did]. Other times I type an… and the reverse happens. ]
I became even more intrigued when I saw that the hero, Rhine Fontaine, is passing. If that term isn’t familiar to you, he’s passing for white. He was born to a light-skinned slave, his father being the slave owner [and not of a kindly and benevolent nature]. He was raised as companion to his half-brother who was born to the master’s wife. The half-brother is also a minor character in this book.
I’ve got to tell you– I learned from the beginning of the book. As a writer, I tend to drill ‘into the minute’ so deeply I end up able to write a 1,000 word tome on 24 hours. [Well, I exaggerate, okay? But I find it difficult to cover passages of time briefly, because I feel like if I can summarize a few months in a few paragraghs, damn, those must have been boring months. And if they aren’t boring, I feel the need to write them out in the fullness, which means, ooops! Another bunch of pages, and no quick summary. But the early part of this book does cover a period of time, and several incidents, gracefully and in an interesting way, and I did take note.
Finally–the relationship between Rhine and Eddy is complicated because she is black and he is living as white. Oh, the tangled webs we do weave when first we practice to deceive! And another sidenote–since I listened as an audiobook, I thought the heroine’s name was Edie [long e] but I see it written as Eddy [short e]. I wonder if the narrator verified pronunciations with the author.
I look forward to more from Beverly Jenkins, and according to this Smart Bitches review, readers have been clamoring for Eddy’s brother’s story since since August 2nd, 1998! By the way, read that review. It has much very good content that goes beyond this story and into the harmful tropes used by writers when writing about black women.
I’ll be watching for Eddy’s brother to show up — if he hasn’t already!
Cover note: I particularly love this cover. Even though it doesn’t have the “clench” and the “pose” of an old skool romance, I love that Rhine has a somewhat old skool romantic hero look, and that Eddy looks very much like a real woman, and unusually as far as these things go, without makeup or other modernizing touches.
[OMG, INDIGO JUST LANDED ON MY TBR!]
I will repeat what I’ve said before. I have always read to have the experience of living another life. The more different the worlds and characters are from my own experience, the more likely I am to want to read it. I am thrilled to have finally taken the plunge into Beverly Jenkins’ world!