By Beverly Jenkins
I am so glad that Rebel by Beverly Jenkins was this month’s book club pick. This book was incredible, with strong and inspiring characters set amid a backdrop of a beautiful American city, New Orleans.
This takes place during Reconstruction, a painful but hopeful period in America’s history. Valinda Lacy is a woman from New York who travels to New Orleans to help set up a school for newly freed adults and children. Right away she realizes that there will be many difficulties she will encounter from racists who work hard to thwart her efforts and threaten her safety.
Captain Drake LaVeq is a Union soldier from a strong and prosperous southern family. When he crosses paths with Val, he sees a strength and determination in her that he is immediately drawn to. His family is able to help protect Valinda and the two develop a flirtatious bond.
Val is already promised to her childhood friend, Cole, who is working with his partner in Paris to try to get funding for a newspaper. The obstacle of Cole was perfect to help Valinda keep some space from Drake, but he was never a barrier to their love. I really liked Cole’s character, as well as his associate Lenny, and it was when they eventually reconnected with Val that I really loved this book.
There were so many amazing characters, like Drake’s strong and fascinating brothers, his sister in law Sable, who took Val under her wing, and the incredible matriarch, Julianna, who would be any woman’s dream mother in law.
Val and Drake, both strong and resilient, brave and passionate, found love during a time in American history that was painful yet full of hope. Reading about Valinda’s bravery and dedication to helping those less fortunate was so inspiring and hopeful.
To take a moment to discuss the beautiful cover as well. The gold dress that is described so elegantly in the book; Drake’s sexy beard and opened shirt; the two embracing under the willow tree, as they did in the gazebo several times in the book. It all came together perfectly.
Review by Michele W.