Rebel by Beverly Jenkins
Book 1 in the new series, “Women Who Dare”
Published May 28, 2019 by Avon
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Valinda Lacey’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.
As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.
Beverly Jenkins is my go to with historical romance. For the longest, I didn’t think this romance sub-genre was for me. As a woman of color it was just very hard to see myself in the popular titles I find recommended by romance readers for others looking to get into this sub-genre. Then I found Beverly Jenkins.
As soon as I saw she had a new release coming out, I snagged myself a copy and only a few weeks later, my library hold of the audiobook came through.
I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I am still on the high that I’ve been on since finishing the last page. Have all the thoughts, all the feels and am basically going to fangirl, nerdOut, share with you the many reasons why I couldn’t rate this book any less than 5 stars.
Rebel is book one in Jenkins’s new series, Women Who Dare, and this book really stayed on brand with the series name. Our heroine, Val, is living in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War and it’s a racist, classist, crap show. It is so dangerous. We see not only white supremacist groups who want to turn back time, but even the evils from men from Val’s own race. You would think there would be this sense of cohesion during this time, but hell no! Val isn’t even from New Orleans. She is from New York City, so as I read this book I kept thinking, “She doesn’t even have to deal with this mess, she could just go home.” She has her reasons why doesn’t want to go home, but the most admirable reason is that she wants to stay and help make change.
I loved that Val is a teacher, in New Orleans teaching freedmen and children how to read. Knowledge is power and by keeping this ability away from people, you’re able to control them. Teachers are already superheroes, but add in a heroine in this profession during a time period where people didn’t want to see people of color learning this skill, and I’m a forever fan.
This romance was feminist as f*ck! Val refused to give into the role her father, back home in New York insisted she play. He turned his nose up at her educating herself so she had to do so on the low. Her grandmother was a slave who escaped on foot by herself. There were sprinkles of women defying the roles expected of them, in hopes of bettering themselves all throughout this book–and what made me even more happy was that Drake, our hero was a supporter of it, every time.
I love the respect all of the characters show for the matriarch of the family. I haven’t read a Beverly Jenkins romance yet where this wasn’t done and it makes me think of my own family and how on both sides, my Grandmother’s are the center of everything.
The romance between Drake and Val was slow but real. Val grew up with no real examples of what a healthy relationship looked like so as her feelings grew, she was very unsure. I admired Drake for his patience sprinkled with a tad bit of persistence with her. I feel like with Beverly Jenkins’s historical the entire time period and setting could honestly be the conflict for the romance. Literally the time period makes it hard enough to be together. I know after a full day of just trying to survive, I’d be too tired to think about love but in spite of all that, she still is able to weave a dark moment into the story that has me rooting when we finally reach that happily ever after.
Each time I read one of her romances, I finish and have all of this new information I never knew before and this was no exception. Rebel is full of New Orleans history and in true Jenkins fashion it is weaved flawlessly into the story, transporting you to that time period with such ease.
I can’t give this book enough praise. It was a wonderful ride. Literally not even 5 pages in and I was holding my breath, sitting on the edge of my seat. Jenkins really kicked this one off with a bang and never really let up! I can’t wait to see whose story comes next. I have an idea whose it is, and my fingers are crossed that I’m right!