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The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins's compelling new series follows a Northern woman south in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War . . . Valinda Lacy's mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life--and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq. As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda's determination. And he can't stop admiring--or wanting--her. But when Valinda's father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn't love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.… (more)

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As someone who primarily writes romance in my spare time (despite pretty much never reading romance novels), I think Rebel was a very good choice for my entrance into romance, particularly by Beverly Jenkins who I have heard is considered a master of the genre!

That tiny blab aside, this book was so sweet, that I gobbled it up in a day, which is a record for me! The historical elements to the story is very informative, and definitely satisfied the history lover within me.

Valinda is a strong character, which I really liked, and the dialogue between Drake and her really made me chuckle.

Towards the latter half of the book, things did begin to become a little rushed, especially with the fact that Cole (Valinda's intended before Drake came into the picture) is actually gay and Valinda was his beard the whole time! I guess there had been some subtle hints, but that sorta threw me for a loop, and I felt it was an easy resolution to a conflict that could've been really spicy. Generally speaking, the major conflicts in this book are quickly solvable (maybe that's just a norm in romance, I'm a romance newbie, and I'm probably being too critical), so this is a very happy read despite the period the book is set in. Black women MCs deserve happy endings, and this book rightfully does that.

Anyways, great story, I'm looking forward to reading her other books and the sequel. ( )
  nerobucciarati | Jul 27, 2020 |
Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

Women Who Dare book 1. Historical romance. Diverse.
After the end of the Civil War, teacher Valinda travels to New Orleans to help freed slaves learn to read. But freedom isn’t recognized by everyone in the South and Valinda is soon the target of vandals and thugs. Fortunately she’s met Captain Drake LeVeq Whois more than happy to rescue Valinda. He’s also willing to teach her a few things about marriage games, aka petting and sex.

A lot of history is included in Ms Jenkins books. Some of it is ugly and brutal. Most of the tellings are done well within the story and on-point but a few times it felt more like a history lecture.
I’m in it for the romance which was touching and lovely. Valinda had quite a history from a fiancé who is actually in love with another man, to her father that tries to sell her. The best part was her rising against all opposition to win the love of Drake while learning about her own power in the community and her own sexuality.
A powerful black independent female making a stand and finding love. ( )
  Madison_Fairbanks | Jun 13, 2020 |
Valinda Lacy has come to New Orleans with a mission - to held to teach the Freedmen and their families to read and write. She is beloved by her students of all ages, until a group of ruffians break in and destroy everything she has worked on. Unfortunately for her, they are still nearby as she is assessing the damage. She fights them off as best she can, but she is more than relieved when Drake LeVeq intervenes on her behalf. It also doesn't hurt that he's so handsome.

This was the time I ever audibly squealed when getting approved for an ARC. I was a big fan of the Old West series, and I felt so honored to get my hands on Rebel (thanks Netgalley and HarperCollins!). I was not disappointed. Jenkins has a special talent for both teaching me actual history that far too many public schools ignore, while also serving me a steamy romance that I become emotionally invested in. I loved this book, as expected, and will be picking up more of her books ASAP! ( )
  ChelseaMcE | Mar 19, 2020 |
Another winner from the pen of Ms. Jenkins. She never fails to amaze me with her strong characters, factual history, and the descriptions of all that luscious food! I swear I've never seen characters who eat better, haha.

The first book of the Women Who Dare series is a return visit to the House of Leveq (Through the Storm/Winds of the Storm/Captured). The hero, Drake Leveq, is the younger brother of two of those previous heroes (and grandson of the other), a big bear of a man born and bred in New Orleans. He fought in the war and volunteers at the Freedman's Bureau, helping his newly-freed brethren find their way through the quagmire of bureaucracy (or at least attempting to - nothing is ever easy when it comes to federally-sanctioned bureaucracy!). Our heroine, Valinda Lacy, is a newly-arrived teacher from New York. She came South to forge her own way, and because she had a calling for a profession her father (among others) looked down upon. Val returns to her school one afternoon to find it in shreds, manages to fight off her would-be attackers, and receives some much-needed help from Drake, who happens upon her while coming home from the docks. He tells her to remember him if she ever needs help again, and when she returns to her rented room to find herself turned out, and the nunnery that's sponsoring her locked for the evening, she reluctantly takes his advice and seeks him out.

Val is immediately embraced by Drake's family, especially the ladies. They understand her need to be independent, but also to contribute something to the Reconstruction efforts, and gently begin to fold her into their own works. Drake is completely smitten, and vows to help her find a way to re-establish her school.

To counterbalance all of the sweet love, there is a nasty little subplot that exposes the horrors of the Lost Cause. Murder is repaid with murder, and violence begets more violence, almost all of it racially motivated. The man who attacked Val at the beginning of the story lays in wait for her at the end but, in the tradition of all of Ms. Bev's heroines, she is able to take care of herself.

It's always refreshing to pick up a book by Ms. Bev because I know I'll be getting a story with adult characters who act like adults. Drake and Val are both caring, generous, responsible people who solve their own problems and contribute to the greater good. Drake has strong familial ties, and it was a treat to learn more about the Leveqs (now I'm going to have to go back and read that series, haha). Val, on the other hand, has a horrible father, a broken mother, and a scared sister, and spends a lot of the book trying to figure out how to break away from their hold. Her challenge is to temper her desire for total independence with her desire for her hero.

The history in this book was incredibly depressing, and it was made only moreso considering it seems like little has changed in the intervening 200 years. As a Southerner, the history made me sad. I've always had a sense of shame about the history of my region, and seeing it on page in 2019 was not easy, especially considering the racial hatred and white supremacy that are surging again throughout the country.

There was some vengeance on these pages, though, and it was very nicely served: the worst of the white supremacists was fed to his own alligator! HA!

Ms. Bev announced today that the second book in this series will take us back to Spring, the sister of the hero in Tempest. As that's probably my favorite book by her (so far, at least) I'm definitely looking forward to revisiting those characters!! ( )
  eurohackie | Dec 28, 2019 |
My Rating 4.5 Stars

History is changing in New Orleans. Valinda Lacey is happily busy as she is educating newly freed slaves. She is teaching more than reading and writing. She is also teaching basic skills. Sadly, thugs destroy her school. Then she is targeted. When she receives the aid of Captain Drake LeVeq, more than reestablishing her school is on tap. She just might lose her heart.

Drake is an architect and he has plans on rebuilding in New Orleans. When he sees that Valinda is in trouble, he sets out to, at the very least, help her rebuild. As drawn as he is to the beautiful woman, he does his best to respect the fact that her father has promised her to another.

Valinda is in dire straits when it comes to the demands of her father. She does not love her intended, but her father is more than insistent as he is very controlling. She really likes Drake, but he strives to remain honorable to respect the wishes of her father.

Things change, however, and the two strike a path that will no doubt lead to a wonderful future together. Inasmuch as romance is key in this story, this time in history is pivotal. Just because emancipation has occurred, and New Orleans is being reconstructed does not mean times are easy. As it is, Valinda's school was destroyed, as mentioned. There is further danger and Valinda and Drake work together as best they can.

Rebel is the first book in the Women Who Dare series. No doubt, as engaging as this book was, future offerings will be just as compelling. I very much look forward to the next book in this series, as well as finding the time to peruse Ms. Jenkins backlist.

Many thanks to Avon and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion. ( )
  RobinLovesReading | Oct 25, 2019 |
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