Destiny’s Embrace

Beverly Jenkins. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-203265-2

In this romantic series launch, Jenkins (Night Hawk) creates a gently idealized 1880s California where race and class are less important than love and friendship. Mariah Cooper of Philadelphia grew up in a loveless home, raised by an angry single mother. Logan Yates had the opposite experience: he’s the son of a black rancher, raised by his Spanish-elite stepmother alongside his two half-brothers, surrounded by love. When Mariah comes all the way to California to become his housekeeper, Logan is certain the city girl will turn tail. Instead, Mariah discovers her temper and her spine, and the sparks that fly between them change from a battle of wills to a flare of passion. Mariah’s growth makes her a delightful heroine, and Logan’s loving relationships with his family keep him from being just another alpha male. Jenkins’s greatest success is in drawing a world where the main characters embrace egalitarianism and extend their family relationships generously beyond the ties of blood. (Feb.)