Published by Avon on January 31st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
A strong-willed beauty finds herself in the arms of the handsome drifter from her past, in this second book in the sizzling series set in the Old West, from USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins
As manager of one of the finest hotels in Arizona Territory, Portia Carmichael has respect and stability—qualities sorely missing from her harsh childhood. She refuses to jeopardize that by hitching herself to the wrong man. Suitors are plentiful, but none of them has ever looked quite as tempting as the family friend who just rode into town…and none has looked at her with such intensity and heat.
Duchess. That’s the nickname Kent Randolph gave Portia when she was a young girl. Now she’s a stunning, intelligent woman—and Kent has learned his share of hard lessons. After drifting through the West, he’s learned the value of a place to settle down, and in Portia’s arms he’s found that and more. But convincing her to trust him with her heart, not just her passion, will be the greatest challenge he’s known—and one he intends to win…
This is the second book in the Rhine Trilogy and I do hope you enjoy it. With all the issues and heartache Portia carried inside, I knew it would be difficult for her to give her heart to someone, but Kent Randolph proved to be the man for the job, even if I didn’t know he would be her hero when the story began. Hope you’ll enjoy seeing Rhine and Eddy from Forbidden and, yes, they are still very much in love.
The Fontaine Hotel is loosely based on the Mountain View Hotel founded in Oracle, Arizona, in 1895 by Annie Box Neal and her husband William “Curly” Neal, who were both of African- American and Native-American descent. The Mountain View was a combination hotel and spa and catered not only to European royalty but to wealthy visitors from places like Russia, Australia, and China, too. Look them up.
The great Apache chief Geronimo surrendered on September 4, 1886, and was promptly declared a prisoner of war. He and his people eventually wound up in Florida along with the Apache scouts the army employed to hunt him down. He died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909. The Apache warrior Lozen, also captured in 1886, was sent to the barracks at Mount Vernon, Alabama, where she died of tuberculosis in 1887. Although her name has faded from America’s memory, her bravery and fearlessness remains legendary with her people.
I only touched briefly on African-American women and the fight for suffrage but hope to get back to it in depth sometime in the future. Until then, if you’d like to do some research on your own, here are two excellent sources:
African American Women and the Vote: 1837–1965 by Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, et al.
African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote: 1850–1920 by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
Having the opportunity to create characters and stories that reflect my heritage as a woman of color is priceless. Representation matters. Thanks again for the support and love. Thanks also for spreading the word about my books to everyone you know. It’s much appreciated.
Until next time, happy reading.
You can follow the Old West series on Goodreads.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Portia Carmichael is happy with her life. She’s come a long way from being dumped on her aunt Eddy to becoming the manager and bookkeeper of the Fontaine Hotel, which is quite an achievement for a woman of color in late nineteenth century Arizona. Portia and her younger sister Regan have lived with Eddy and her husband Rhine Fontaine for 15 years, and in a way the sisters’ mother did them a favour. But because of what she’s seen as a child, Portia has also decided she will never marry; not that she doesn’t have many potential suitors, she is just not interested. On the day of Eddy and Rhine’s fifteenth wedding anniversary, a handsome cowboy rides into town, and Portia recognises him right away, and her heart stutters for a brief instant. Kent Randolph used to tend bar at Rhine’s saloon, and now he is asking his friend for work. Kent has roamed the world, never thought of settling down, as he was quite the rake, but he might stay put for a while. Little Portia has filled out nicely, but Rhine will have his hide if Kent does anything remotely improper.
BREATHLESS takes place fifteen years after last year’s amazing FORBIDDEN, and features several of the characters. Readers who have read the previous book will be delighted at meeting old friends, while newcomers will have no problem following, as Ms. Jenkins succinctly recaps the most important events. Portia is a modern and serious young woman, while her sister Regan is a reckless hoyden, and these two form quite a pair, and their conversations are a joy to read. Kent’s love for the ladies got him in hot water, and he has mended his ways, but he is still quite dashing and irresistible; what’s not to love about a man who cooks!
BREATHLESS is the very definition of slow burn, as the tentative friendship Portia and Kent shared years ago evolves into a romance, and what a lovely romance it is! Kent treats Portia with the respect she deserves, and although quite the charmer, Kent is a breath of fresh air when it comes to historical romance heroes; Portia and Kent are wonderfully matched. Beverly Jenkins’ legendary storytelling shines as we experience life in the Old West, in a mostly African-American tightly knit community. While the author doesn’t needlessly dwell on race issues, they were a reality, as was women’s suffrage, which is one of Portia’s interests, and the historical facts Ms. Jenkins inserts contribute to the authenticity of the story, and even make the characters more real. He writing is elegant and lively; the pace even, and there were a couple of startling plot twists I did not quite expect. BREATHLESS doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, but on a question mark that will be answered in book three, which promises to be full of surprises. BREATHLESS is another wonderful read by the great Beverly Jenkins!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.