Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins fulfilled the
category “Book from my
TBR list I Meant to Read Last Year” for the PopSugar 2021 Reading Challenge. I
had it as a choice for the prompt “Book by a Woman of Color.” Last year, I
chose A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. I’ve been a bad romance reader,
as this is my first Beverly Jenkins story.
The long and short is I loved this book. It’s a historical romance about
a woman of color making a place for herself in the world. Through hard work and
endurance, she strives to work toward her dreams. She wants to own her own
restaurant. Not an easy thing for a woman in 1870, a tremendously hard thing
for a woman of color. But Eddy Carmichael endures. She starts her journey after
saving her money, then is robbed, and left for dead. A handsome, wealthy, and
powerful landowner saves her (of course), and Eddy’s world crashes into Rhine
He’s a dreamboat, but he’s also white. Hold up a minute. He’s
not actually white. He’s been passing for years, building his fortune, thumbing
his nose at the town’s white folks, who would shun him if they knew. He falls
for Eddy almost from the start. She’s attracted, too, but holds back, knowing
society and the law will never let them be together.
The story follows this forbidden love affair with the
two mains pining away from each other. There are moments of true love and
passion that make goosebumps form on my arms. And when they finally—(it’s a romance, and they
will be together, so no spoilers)—when they finally get together, oh the heat!
The novel had loads of historical information. Ms.
Jenkins is highly regarded for her research, and this work alone proves she
knows her history. I loved all the little details she added to put us in 1870.
I recently read Roughing It by Mark Twain about Nevada near this time period
and felt it gave me a good background for reading this tale.
The only problem I had with the book was with Eddy’s appearance. The woman was
described as beautiful over and over. She worked to help support her family and
get her sister through some troubled times. I had a hard time with a woman who
was so talented at cooking and so “beautiful” never getting married. If she was
so perfect, wouldn’t someone have scooped her up when she worked at the restaurant?
She was almost too perfect. But I love her.
The story got me thinking about race issues. Rhine’s passing as a white man
particularly made my brain whirl. He was an honest, good person who helped so
many. But he lied to everyone around him every day. He had to if he wanted to
keep all he’d gained in respect and fortune. It made me sad to think that he
was forced to lie about his true self, even to Eddy, to be respected and prosperous.
Is the world any different today? I’m not sure. These thoughts linger in my
head weeks after finishing the book.
I give Forbidden
by Beverly Jenkins Five Homemade Meals by Eddy.