Avon / January 26, 2016 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital
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 . . .
The latest Beverly Jenkins’ novel, Forbidden, is a stimulating story that unfolds in the backdrop of the Old West, featuring a hero whose appearance doesn’t reflect to the world a major part of him. He’s a hero torn between the life he’s been able to have thanks to the lottery of genetics and the life he begins to crave for himself when he falls in love.
Rhine Fontaine is a Black man yet does not appear as a man of color to society. Rhine’s mother was a slave and his father was the master of the house. Rhine looks much like his father and with the times being what they were, it’s advantageous to him to live in a world where he is a seen as a White man rather than a Black man. Passing allows him to prosper as a business man and have individual freedom, which he enjoys to the fullest. His life as a Black man passing as White has been planned out carefully yet he hasn’t forgotten his roots. And then in walks Eddy Carmichael, a Black woman, to complicate his well-laid plans. Rhine is drawn to Eddy from the very beginning after he rescues her from a blistering desert, impressed by her strong will and feisty personality. Rhine takes her to his home to help her recover from her recent ordeal and the seeds of desire between them take root.
“Eddy thought she was dreaming about being carried down a dark tunnel. She knew a man was carrying her but had yet to see his face. He eased her into a pool of water and she leaned back against his strong shoulder. The water lapped over her like a balm, magically erasing all her hurts and soothing her everywhere: throat, arms, breasts. It felt so glorious, she sighed with pleasure. Languidly opening her eyes, she stared into the deep green gaze of a White man. For some reason, she wasn’t alarmed. His jet black hair and handsome, ivory-skinned features seemed familiar somehow. She gently cupped his unshaven cheek–something she’d never done to any man before–and he smiled softly. She smiled in return, and that was the last thing she remembered.”
Unfortunately, Rhine is also an engaged man, which also throws a wrench into his desire for Eddy. She also feels very drawn to him, as she sees his kindness and good looks very attractive. Eddy also sees him as a White man and knows that as a Black woman, a formal relationship between them would not be accepted by society and informal relations with him would not be acceptable to her.
I really like Rhine and Eddy. Their conversations consist of many sparkling rejoinders with one another. They engage each other on not just a physical level but mentally as well. Eddy is a wonderful heroine. I admire her inner strength and her passion to survive as much as Rhine does. She’s resourceful, resilient, and a fighter, and while she has strong morals, she isn’t judgmental. One of my favorite moments was when she’s preparing breakfast in her new job as a cook and a town resident decides to ‘compliment’ her.
“He came over to the table. ‘You know it’s a shame your skin is so dark. You’re well spoken, clean, mannerly. You’d make someone a perfect wife, but—“ She did look up then. ‘Do you always insult women with knives in their hands, Mr. Brown?’”
Rhine is a charming man, but even more importantly, he’s a kind and confident man who tries to use his position to help others, especially other people of color. He’s comfortable in his skin, even while pretending he is a White man. I read so many romance books about Alpha men who are hard from battle and authoritatively commanding that it’s a nice change of pace to have a strong man who doesn’t need to bend others to his will and take charge of every situation. Rhine is a leader but he’s considerate to the needs of others and charitable with his time as well. I especially love his support of town orphanage that takes in orphaned children of color. The scenes of him with the children are absolutely adorable. Rhine is a not a perfect man as he has moments of jealousy in the book that show he’s not without his own flaws but he is a good man.
Forbidden is the first book in a new series by the author and while I’ve enjoyed her previous novels, I am really looking forward to the other books in this series. The characters introduced so far are extremely entertaining and the small-town soapiness to all their interactions is a hoot to read. Rhine and Eddy are two people made for each other, who complement each other in every way, and this book is a splendid story of their journey of falling in love with one another.
Learn more about or order a copy of Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins, available on January 26, 2016:
Miss_D has been reading romance books for over 25 years. A native Californian making her way in the Big Apple, she likes to spend her downtime relaxing in front of the TV, chatting with friends, sitting in Central Park and playing beach volleyball. Miss D can be reached via Twitter @bonobochick.