When I first open a Beverly Jenkins novel, I’m giddy with anticipation. Because I know the woman is a queen among queens with historical romance. And when I finish, I’m two-thirds satiated and one-third frustrated…because she leaves the reader hanging. Yes, Ms. Jenkins…teasing us about the next book in the series is cruel and delicious all at the same time. And as readers of my reviews know, I’m not always the most patient when it comes to waiting for my favorite authors to release their next gem of a novel.
So...Breathless. This book has everything. A yummy hero who has overcome some flaws of his past? Check. A gorgeous woman who gets more revved up looking at numbers and balancing budgets than with the idea of marrying? Check. A believable courtship that leaves the reader flying through the pages? Check. Drama causing our leads to persevere rather than fold? Check.
It’s been years since Portia Carmichael has seen Kent Randolph. The former bartender for her Uncle Rhine, Kent eventually arrives looking for work at the location of Rhine Fontaine’s new ranch. Fifteen years have passed since Kent worked for Rhine. And for a shy twelve year-old girl, eighteen year-old Kent was larger than life. Back then, six years was a big age-spread. Now? Six years is hardly worth mentioning. Moverover, Portia has no misgivings about her future and love. She's past the stage of silly girl crushes and vows she’ll never fall in love, not after what she saw love do to her mother. Portia wants nothing to do with prostitution—her mother’s occupation. Portia's an educated woman now, determined to safeguard her heart.
Until Kent Randolph strolls into town. And ladies, I keep picturing Idris Elba in his thirties. And let’s face it, none of us would be able to resist that kind of charm and good looks (pardon while I wipe my drool). It's no wonder that simple things, like Kent sipping water, make Portia’s insides churn.
He raised the jug and took a long drink. A trickle of the water slid down the corner of his mouth and Portia, struck by the urge to lap it up, unconsciously ran her tongue over her lips.
“Do you want some, Duchess?”
The correct answer is yes, yes, and yes. But our heroine is stubborn and unsettled by the feelings arising anytime Kent is visible. Hell, even when he’s within audible distance. A true bluestocking, Portia decides the only way to rid herself of these new feelings is to kiss him and get it over and done with. Then, she’ll be able to move on.
Maybe if she asked him to kiss her, it would feed her attraction enough to bring about a cure for what ailed her. Lord knew she needed one because she’d never wanted to lick a man’s mouth before in her life.
But with anything that is fine, we yearn for more. And Kent is FINE. He’s caring, attracted to Portia's brain as well as her loveliness, he’s smart, hard working, and he’s learned some hard lessons in life. In short, he just might be my new book boyfriend.
Later, alone in her room, Portia paced. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t rid herself of the memory of her first kiss. He’d made her so breathless, it was a wonder she’d been able to mount Arizona and ride home. And Lord help her, she wanted more. A hundred times more. More of his palm moving over her spine, more of his hard body against her soft one, more of his seeking tongue.
And huzzah, we do get more. Lots more. Bonus, Ms. Jenkins always inserts historical gems in her book, based on real people, places, and movements. For further reading, we are given links and names and places to explore to keep us occupied until Regan's book graces our shelves or takes up some of our electronic memory.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Breathless by Beverly Jenkins, available January 31, 2017:
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Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance, dabbles in Happily Ever Afters under the pen name of Lily Kay, and teaches sociology part-time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu, @AuthorLilyKay, or on facebook.com/Authorlilykay.