Review: Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Reviewed by Shelly

I wasn’t sure I would like this. I shouldn’t have worried because Beverly Jenkins is still a fantastic writer of historical romances. Even though I read Indigo, too many years ago to mention, I still reread it about once a quarter because it’s one of my favorite and most treasured dog-eared paperbacks. If you read Through the Storm with Sable and Raimond, this is her brother, Rhine. This is a standalone if you’ve not.

Rhine Fontaine’s been looking for his sister since he returned from the war. He and his half-brother, Andrew, have settled close to each other but while Drew is in California Rhine’s settled in Virginia City, Nevada. What very few know is that while Rhine is building his fortune primarily through real estate he’s also passing as white. As the son of a slave and her master/owner, Rhine aesthetically favors his father. Along with his looks and education Rhine’s deception is straight forward.

When I initially read about his ‘passing’ in the blurb I wasn’t sure how Jenkins would pull this off; how to make Rhine a likeable hero – she does. Rhine’s uses his guile for good. His place in the local political structure allows him to make advances for the minorities – not just black folks but the Asians, Indians and Mexicans. He’s a good guy and he’s also engaged to be married to Natalie Greer, the daughter of a fellow party member, but from the beginning I was pretty sure that it was more business than love between the two. He wanted the connection and she wanted the wealth and power that Rhine possessed.

Eddy Carmichael has a dream. She wants to have her own restaurant in San Francisco. Saying goodbye to her friends and family, Eddy makes the trek from Denver towards San Francisco but gets robbed (for the 2nd time in less than a month) and left in the desert along the way. Rhine and his business partner Jim find Eddy passed out in the desert and take her back to Virginia City.

There’s a lot about this small community that’s to be liked. Eddy finds a place in Sylvie’s boarding house as a cook. Not only does her cooking become an asset for Sylvie and the town, but Eddy finds herself falling in love with the community there and they with her. Then there’s Rhine. When Eddy initially wakes up in his saloon, in his room she has no clue who this fair skinned, green eyed man is but she recognizes kindness in his eyes and it’s from here their relationship grows. It’s anything but easy and smooth.

The delicate balance that Rhine has with his life and what he’s trying to do starts to fall apart when he starts to fall in love with Eddy. He knows that he can’t continue to be in the white world and marry Eddy. The thing is, Eddy’s an easy woman to love. She’s a nice person, a good person and doesn’t have a spiteful or bad thing to say about anyone. She’s not bitter or anything that would turn me off to her. So it was easy to see what Rhine saw in her.

Eddy knew that Rhine wasn’t an option for her. Their worlds would never meet and she absolutely didn’t want to be anyone’s mistress or side piece, so Rhine was out. She set her sights on a realistic relationship with Zeke Reynolds, the local architect/carpenter. I personally liked the friction that created – the increase in tension between the three of them was good. Between Eddy’s contributions to the community and Rhine’s determination to help those around him and have Eddy as his own, there was nothing about this story I didn’t like. I even appreciated Natalie and what she brought to the story.

Sexy, fun, smart characters moving through a fast paced plot. I enjoy Jenkins’ ability to weave historical events into her stories. I enjoy the small but significant details that she brings, making the story all the more real. There was not one waste in the secondary characters because they all helped to build the plot and showcase the goodness and decency of both Eddy and Rhine. Even though the story of Eddy and Rhine might not have historical accuracy we know that the scenario of Rhine’s ‘passing’ is spot on accurate for many who could.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

Forbidden
by Beverly Jenkins
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Avon

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