Love and longing in Reconstruction-era New Orleans.
It’s 1867, and Valinda Lacy has traveled from New York to Louisiana to teach former slaves. After a series of misfortunes—the barn she’s using as a schoolroom is overrun by vagrants, she's assaulted by soldiers, and her landlady throws her out onto the street—Val is welcomed into the LeVeq family. Jenkins fans may remember the name LeVeq from an earlier trilogy (Captured, 2009, etc.). Now, the author returns to New Orleans to launch her Women Who Dare series. Val is a winning heroine, and Capt. Drake LeVeq is an excellent match. He admires her sense of independence, she respects his kindness and generosity, and—of course—they are both wildly attracted to each other. The evolution of their romance has an organic flow. Jenkins doesn’t create elaborate contrivances to keep her characters apart. Val has been raised to expect neither love nor passion. Even when Drake introduces her to pleasure she’s never imagined, she's reluctant to give away her freedom. For his part, Drake is wounded that she doesn't immediately return his affections when he makes his devotion to her known. As Jenkins’ readers will expect, the love story is interwoven with a great deal of historical detail. She offers a vivid portrait of life during Reconstruction, and New Orleans is revealed as the unique place it is. There is colorism and classism and tension between old Creole families and former slaves, but there is also a great deal of opportunity for ambitious women. This is a huge part of the city’s appeal for Val—this, and the amazing food. So often, stories drawn from the African-American past deal largely with struggle, and Jenkins does not shy away from depictions of injustice and violence. But she also gives us characters who are able to thrive and love and find their ways to happy endings.
A satisfying start to a new historical series from one of romance’s finest writers.