cover image Rebel (Women Who Dare #1)

Rebel (Women Who Dare #1)

Beverly Jenkins. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-286168-9

This winning historical romance lays the groundwork for an exciting series. In post–Civil War New Orleans, New Yorker Valinda Lacy strives to teach freedmen, but both her work and her safety are imperiled by the racial hostility still plaguing the nation. When business owner Drake LeVeq saves Valinda from racist attackers, he’s immediately taken by the spunky beauty. Both were born free, and they make it their life’s mission to assist ex-slaves. Valinda, whose fiancé is in France on business, is only in New Orleans temporarily, but the chemistry between her and the hunky Drake is as hot as the spicy foods they share. When Valinda’s attackers come looking for revenge, Drake keeps her under his protection, and when she’s evicted, Drake’s mother takes her in, making it even harder for them to keep their distance. Finally Valinda breaks her engagement to stay in New Orleans, and then she has to deal with her overbearing father, who believes women have no business being on their own. Meanwhile, Drake gets involved in taking dangerous vengeance for the death of a friend. Jenkins (the Blessings series) addresses sensitive, serious issues in a tactful, realistic manner, and she brilliantly balances the real sorrows of history with a shimmering romance. This is a grand tale of finding happiness in hard times. Agent: Nancy Yost, Nancy Yost Literary. (May)