Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins Review

Title: Forbidden
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: Avon Books
Copyright: 2016
ISBN:9780062389015
Format: Ebook
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Book 1 of Old West

 

While reading, I was thinking about the way people pass today. As a black woman with an invisible disability, I pass on some level but not on the same level as Rhine Fontaine. After all, he is living during the Reconstruction Era United States as a white man when he is not.

While talking to my therapist about the synopsis for this book I explained to her what it was about. I must admit I was surprised because she didn’t realize what I meant when I mentioned passing. That shows me that we’ve come to a place in America where multiracial people do not have to make such hard decisions. It’s receding into the fabric of the past.

I thought it was interesting that Ms. Jenkins decided to flip the genre conventions. It wasn’t a woman passing this time around but a man. I’m very interested in the ‘tragic mulatta’ trope and how it plays out in literature and I feel it was done very well here.

I did, however, feel that the ending was a tad bit overblown. I felt like it wasn’t needed though it was a nice juxtaposition.

This was also the first book I’ve read by Ms. Jenkins. I don’t know why, but it’s taken me a long time to get around to reading her work, but that will not be a problem anymore because I love her sense of humor and her writing style. I felt like I was listening to a friend.

Freedom to Love by Susanna Fraser Review

Title: Freedom to Love
Author: Susanna Fraser
Publisher: Carina Press
Copyright: 2015
ISBN: 9781426899447
Format: E-book
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Book 1 of Freedom to Love Series

“The course of true love never did run smooth”
– William Shakespeare

Never more is this the case for Therese Bondurant and Henry Farlow. The two belong to separate worlds. She the free people of color in New Orleans and he the English aristocracy. So how did these two even meet you ask?

 

Oh, just a little thing called war.
The novel takes place during the winding down of the War of 1812. Henry, our fair hero, meets Therese and her sister. He’s struck by her immediately. He thinks she’s Spanish and well she’s not…

 

It wasn’t that she didn’t wish to speak of her family’s complexities to someone who could never possibly understand.

 

Fraser, Susanna. Freedom to Love (Kindle Locations 378-379). Carina Press. Kindle Edition.

 
The thing that struck me about this novel was that it was honest. There was no sugar coating the realities of their situation. But at the same time, there was no brutality about it either. I remember reading a novel awhile back. It wasn’t a historical romance, but it was historical fiction. I had to put it down because it was a hard read. The slurs that the characters were spewing while appropriate to the time just got under my skin. I feel like this novel did a great job of showing that you can write a book that confronts the issues without hurting those that have been oppressed already in the process.

 

There were a few passages that made me cringe, however:
“You have no idea what it’s like to every day feel yourself a fool, and live in fear of being caught out and ridiculed for it.”

Fraser, Susanna. Freedom to Love (Kindle Locations 2025-2026). Carina Press. Kindle Edition.

This passage is the one I’m thinking about. I was expecting Therese to call him out on that  seeing as she’s a woman of color, but she doesn’t say anything to that effect. It’s like um hello you are talking to a colored woman in the South as a white man? I realize that he most likely has a disability. (This is a minor plot point.) But I just felt that was so insensitive.

But despite that issue, it was a wonderful book. It was slow paced, but I’d like to think of it as a slow burn. I am interested in checking out the author’s backlist. I haven’t read many historical romances focusing on the wars during the Regency.