USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins returns with the first book in a breathtaking new series set in the Old West
Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he’s always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the façade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.
Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won’t risk her heart for him. As soon as she’s saved enough money from her cooking, she’ll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden . . .
This was my first book by Beverly Jenkins and it was all I had hoped for and more! It was an awesome story, not just because of the love, but because of historical accuracy, and intentional tactfulness in which the author dealt with the time period’s racial tension. I loved that world building and carefully developed, yet complex characters she gave us here.
Rhine Fontaine was a son a slave master and a slave who found out around 8 yrs old that he was light enough to pass as white. So after he finished his tour in the Civil war, he moved away from his hometown and began to “pass” as white man. He built a successful life and only a couple of people knew his secret. One day, he rescued a woman who had passed out from heat and exhaustion, and thus began his introduction to Miss Eddy Carmichael.
Eddy was on her way to California to build a life as a cook. Eddy was a strong and hard working woman who wanted more out of her life and she had no qualms about working towards it. On her journey to California, she was robbed of all her money and left out in the heat to die. When Rhine and his business partner rescued her, Eddy was given an opportunity to stay in town and make a little money to aid her in her dream of opening her own restaurant in California.
The only problem was how she was going to fight her attraction to the green eyed white man who was always being so kind and attentive to her; a dangerous thing in these times where blacks and whites were not accepted as equals enough to be together. Eddy wasn’t the only one with the dilemma; Rhine was engaged to woman from a powerful political family whom he needed to continue to push his agenda of gaining equality for the recently freed black people. He couldn’t be with Eddy if he was “white” and he couldn’t continue as a champion his initiatives as a Representative if he was known to be “black”. What path will Rhine choose to follow?
I loved this story. This time period the 1870’s can be very emotional for me as I find the topics painful. I always assumed that once black people passed, their lives were carefree and they had achieved that which everyone so desperately yearns for: equality, respect and a fairer opportunity for social mobility. I found that so selfish but then again, I couldn’t begrudge anyone their opportunity to be treated with dignity that they already deserved as a human being. But for the first time, the author enlightened me to the obstacles and sacrifices people who Passed made.
I had never considered that before so it was interesting seeing Rhine’s inner turmoil. He was a kind and compassionate person, and was working the best way he knew to change the system from the inside. What a battle it was to do so, and maintain his secret. Now Eddy made him want a different life.
Eddy was such a fascinating character. She had inner strength and a tough outer shell. She had been hurt and taken advantage of before, so Rhine had to work hard to gain her trust and ultimately her admiration.
“I am a woman of color, a hard shell is necessary!”
The pace of the story was just right. I never felt bored, nor was I filled with angst. I loved how the love grew and wasn’t one of those insta-love stories. Both characters had to let down their armor to experience this and they did! I was just looking forward to the choices the characters had to make and to see how those choices impacted the dreams that Eddy and Rhine had for themselves as individuals. The writing was just smooth as I could picture the story as a movie. This book felt so real and just resonated within me as I reflected on it. This is what I love in HRs, a history lesson and a great love story. I cannot believe this is my first book this author, but it certainly won’t be my last.
Ms. Jenkins is the nation’s premier writer of African American historical romance fiction and specializes in 19th century African American life. She has over thirty published novels to date.