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Rebel

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The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins' compelling new series follows a Northern woman south in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War... Valinda Lacey'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 sc The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins' compelling new series follows a Northern woman south in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War... Valinda Lacey'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.


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The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins' compelling new series follows a Northern woman south in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War... Valinda Lacey'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 sc The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins' compelling new series follows a Northern woman south in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War... Valinda Lacey'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.

30 review for Rebel

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    Oh good grief this was just perfect. I loved this book. It's set in the 1860s, Reconstruction, as people are putting New Orleans back together after the Civil War and trying to cope with the massive change in society caused by the freeing of the enslaved. The book doesn't shy away from the difficulties of this--so many people desperately seeking loved ones who were sold away, or trying to survive in a ravaged economy with a wildly incompetent government failing to help, and the poisonous hydra o Oh good grief this was just perfect. I loved this book. It's set in the 1860s, Reconstruction, as people are putting New Orleans back together after the Civil War and trying to cope with the massive change in society caused by the freeing of the enslaved. The book doesn't shy away from the difficulties of this--so many people desperately seeking loved ones who were sold away, or trying to survive in a ravaged economy with a wildly incompetent government failing to help, and the poisonous hydra of white supremacy and violence. The ongoing cycle of anger and violence and prejudice is very clear, as is the sickness at America's heart that is yet to be healed. It's a brutal setting, and the book makes the extremely wise decision to counter it with one of the kindest romances I've ever read. Val is a teacher, trying to help newly freed people learn to read and educate children, Drake is a builder. Both people who try to make, not destroy, and that's no accident. Val is passionately committed to doing the right thing, fiercely determined and independent, but not to a fault because she's sensible. Drake is a big powerful man who is the absolute cinnamonest roll. He gives. He thinks. He cares. He wants, and does not act on that wanting when it's not his place to. He understands that he should put Val's needs and happiness before his own without having to be told. He takes rejection. *And* he's also a kickass hero when need be, as part of a deeply and profoundly kind heart with no toxic masculinity or fear of his own emotions. This is a book where men talk about feelings, and women have a sisterhood, and friends of whatever race stand together. And--and!!!--I think for the first time but correct me if wrong, Ms Bev has written an on page gay couple too, who are low key lovely, with a deep friendship with one of the MCs. It's a quiet, almost casual recognition and acceptance of Black queer love and queerness in the past as well as now, and it's extremely good to see. *And* a white supremacist gets fed to alligators, so this is actually the perfect book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    I was so engrossed in this book that I didn't even stop to save quotes like I usually do. 😂 As someone who is still very new to the historical romance genre, I've been branching out with some of the seemingly fan favorites, since I haven't been sure where to start. Beverly Jenkins name continually comes up as a giant in the genre, and I can certainly see why. Her writing is equal parts powerful narrative and comforting bear hug, and her words have a smoothness like literary butter that is intell I was so engrossed in this book that I didn't even stop to save quotes like I usually do. 😂 As someone who is still very new to the historical romance genre, I've been branching out with some of the seemingly fan favorites, since I haven't been sure where to start. Beverly Jenkins name continually comes up as a giant in the genre, and I can certainly see why. Her writing is equal parts powerful narrative and comforting bear hug, and her words have a smoothness like literary butter that is intelligent and accessible to all. This was a stressful week for our family, and being able to escape into an atmospheric novel during a time period I haven't read much of was wonderful. Please be aware, as I'm sure is expected, there are many inclusions of racism specific to the time period, which could be a trigger for some readers. I thought this aspect was incredibly well-rounded, as the author shows just how many areas racism can arise from, even after slavery was "abolished" following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The narrative of a country trying to rebuild following the Civil War, and essentially the truth in how a piece of legislature could never abolish racism, is front and central to the story. I personally enjoyed reading the author's note at the conclusion showing the copious amounts of research that went into ensuring this book was historically accurate. Going in, I had no idea that this book featured some of Beverly Jenkins's former characters, but was delighted to find out that I have many more adventures ahead of me with the Le Veq family. The author has such a way with creating a memorable cast, and I found her expression of the secondary characters to be so well done, some of the best I've encountered to date. My only *minor* complaint is that it seems the romance was mostly reserved for the last third of the book, and I would have loved to have seen it a bit more front and center throughout. This is just a personal preference, though, and I completely understand why the author chose to structure her story the way that she did, especially due to the fact that Valinda is promised to another man for a majority of the story. In short, this may have been my first Beverly Jenkins novel, but it certainly won't be my last. Thanks to Sarah for buddy reading this one with me!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Talia Hibbert

    To the surprise of, erm, no-one, Ms Bev has done it again. This book was an absolute banger from the very first scene, when I fell head over heels in love with Val (a queen, a badass, an icon). Then we got a blast from the past via Sable, plus the appearance of our frankly delicious hero, Drake (ugh, even his name is yum), who won my affection forever. Things only went up from there. This book is such a visceral experience, with so many little adventures and truly loveable, fascinating MCs. You To the surprise of, erm, no-one, Ms Bev has done it again. This book was an absolute banger from the very first scene, when I fell head over heels in love with Val (a queen, a badass, an icon). Then we got a blast from the past via Sable, plus the appearance of our frankly delicious hero, Drake (ugh, even his name is yum), who won my affection forever. Things only went up from there. This book is such a visceral experience, with so many little adventures and truly loveable, fascinating MCs. You will feel the heat, you'll actually snicker at the banter, and you'll adore all the characters, old and new. I am so excited for the next in the series!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melanie A. *mostly on hiatus*

    Audio: 5 STARS! Story: 3.75 STARS! "You proved love does exist, and it changed my life." A sweet, VERY low angst read in terms of the romance. Drake was entirely swoon-worthy . . . everybody needs a man like Drake LeVeq. 😍😍😍 The real focus of the story, however, was the setting; the harrowing post-civil war/post-emancipation world of the freedmen and women in New Orleans was brought to life so vividly. So vividly in fact, that it felt like Drake and Val were there to showcase the Audio: 5 STARS! Story: 3.75 STARS! "You proved love does exist, and it changed my life." A sweet, VERY low angst read in terms of the romance. Drake was entirely swoon-worthy . . . everybody needs a man like Drake LeVeq. 😍😍😍 The real focus of the story, however, was the setting; the harrowing post-civil war/post-emancipation world of the freedmen and women in New Orleans was brought to life so vividly. So vividly in fact, that it felt like Drake and Val were there to showcase the history . . . instead of the other way around. As always, though, a solid read by Ms. Jenkins!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    More historical romances with PoCs on the covers, please. <3 Also, I haven't read a bad Beverly Jenkins book to date, so. More historical romances with PoCs on the covers, please. <3 Also, I haven't read a bad Beverly Jenkins book to date, so.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Weatherspoon

    I continue to be a Beverly Jenkins fangirl in the extreme, but one thing about Rebel that really stuck out for me was just how romantic it is. Drake is so dreamy and he treats Valinda like a princess from the moment they meet and he never lets up. I'm definitely adding him to my book boyfriend list. I continue to be a Beverly Jenkins fangirl in the extreme, but one thing about Rebel that really stuck out for me was just how romantic it is. Drake is so dreamy and he treats Valinda like a princess from the moment they meet and he never lets up. I'm definitely adding him to my book boyfriend list.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lover of Romance

    This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance Rebel is the first book in the Women Who Dare series and is also part of the Le Veq Family series as well. I was super excited to see that this book is set in New Orleans, in the reconstruction era. Beverly Jenkins is pure talent when it comes to writing historical's, especially intensely accurate ones. What I really appreciated about this book is how much you learn in such a short period of time. Ms. Bev surely knows how to write such fant This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance Rebel is the first book in the Women Who Dare series and is also part of the Le Veq Family series as well. I was super excited to see that this book is set in New Orleans, in the reconstruction era. Beverly Jenkins is pure talent when it comes to writing historical's, especially intensely accurate ones. What I really appreciated about this book is how much you learn in such a short period of time. Ms. Bev surely knows how to write such fantastic books that blends a delightful romance with great authentic historical facts that comes alive on the pages. Rebel begins with our heroine, who has come down to New Orleans as she waits on her fiancee who is in France for a printing press to start his newspaper shop. Valinda is a teacher and is hoping to help those that are in need of a education both children and adults. But when she finds her school trashed, and she is almost raped and then rescued by a military officer...Captain Drake Le Veq. But now Valinda has seen the kindness from Drake and when she is tossed out of her current living residence, she goes to the only person she knows....Drake and his family's home. Valinda has never known such graciousness or generosity or love that she has seen in the Le Veq home or felt such a strong connection to anyone like Drake. She is about to be married to a friend but has never felt passion like she feels with Drake. Valinda will have to make a decision to marry her friend to protect him so he can be with the man he loves or.....be with the man she loves and live in a place that calls to her. I blame you and your pirate kin. I was fine until I met your family with all its love and passion. Rebel is such a well-written story that had me in TEARS especially towards the end. There was so much heartfelt emotion that we see in this book and you know I never expect it but Bev Jenkins surely knows how to work me in a story and boy she worked my emotions so well in this book. I first want to discuss the setting that we have in this book. Its set in New Orleans shortly entering in the Reconstruction Era and boy the things that we see are heartbreaking and it really brings bigotry and racism so close to home for me. The way in how seeing the social injustices and seeing the fight that these people had to gain their independence, freedoms and education and more. To fight for a chance to live their own lives and not to be raped, abused, or murdered for it. It really made me realize that there is so much work today that needs to be done. So we get to see so many delights from the Le Veq family and now I know I just need to re-read this series because boy I love them all...such a hoot. I love the bantering between the brothers and we finally get DRAKE's book. I have been wanting it ever since I fell in love with Indigo and got my first introduction to this family. I love the way that this family works together and how they defend their own. I honestly had so much love for Drake as the hero of the story, because is the epitome of a hero. If you are looking for an AVENGER of the Reconstruction era, he is that. He does what he can with the people in his life. Our heroine is such a passionate and full of life character and I just loved her so much and all that she does here. She is so strong willed and a fighter. She is a teacher, and has such a drive for education and helping others. I love what she wants to do with her knowledge and see what she is capable of. She never gives up on what is right, no matter how hard or challenging it is. Valinda (such a gorgeous name) has never really seen love or passion in her life and doesn't believe it exists in a marriage. But her world gets turned upside down when she meets the Le Veq family and I loved seeing this change in her. “What’s your dream, cheri?” “To head up a school where girls who, like me, have no interest in embroidery or playing the piano, can learn as much about whatever they want: mathematics, botany, the stars. They can study animals or anatomy. And I’d have the money to provide excellent teachers who don’t believe learning will damage them.” The relationship between Drake and Valinda is pretty insta lust, there is a powerful chemistry that sparks between them from the very beginning and I adored the growth from the sexual sparks and which developed into something more vibrant and full of emotion. The adaption of their relationship was so poignant at times, and love seeing how their relationship deepens through their challenges and seeing what they both overcome. If you do leave New Orleans, I’m keeping your smile so I can pull it out and look at it whenever I think of you Rebel is powerfully portrayed love story that takes us back to New Orleans, a story of sacrifice, passion and what love can do at the right time, right place and with the right person!! TRULY A TREASURE TO HOLD ONTO!  

  8. 5 out of 5

    Madison Warner Fairbanks

    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 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    aarya

    Link to Live-Tweeting: https://twitter.com/ardentlyaarya/sta... Midway through reading this book, I took a brief break from the book and tweeted, "Halfway through Rebel by Beverly Jenkins and I’ve learned more about Reconstruction in the past 150 pages than I have in 16 years of education (12 in public school, 4 in college)... Tbh I’m pretty sure I could just read Ms. Bev’s historical romance backlist and do fine in the APUSH exam. It’s a lot more fun than freaking Richard Hofstadter (I’m getting Link to Live-Tweeting: https://twitter.com/ardentlyaarya/sta... Midway through reading this book, I took a brief break from the book and tweeted, "Halfway through Rebel by Beverly Jenkins and I’ve learned more about Reconstruction in the past 150 pages than I have in 16 years of education (12 in public school, 4 in college)... Tbh I’m pretty sure I could just read Ms. Bev’s historical romance backlist and do fine in the APUSH exam. It’s a lot more fun than freaking Richard Hofstadter (I’m getting flashbacks to THE AMERICAN POLITICAL TRADITION)." I wish that was a joke. I've never been more serious in my entire life. We spent half a lecture in 11th grade discussing the period between the Civil War and the Gilded Age, and all I can remember is that "Northern soldiers went to the South for a decade and took charge of things until Reconstruction ended." That's it. Beverly Jenkins is educating me whereas the public school system has failed me for my entire life. I sometimes use romance novels as a form of escapism - to completely escape from my stressful 21st century life and soak into the romance. I do that here, too. But I do something else as well: reading Beverly Jenkins makes me angry and righteous for the the injustices in American history. Every paragraph is a new revelation and a new reason to burn with indignity and shame. To be clear: I've always known that American history isn't something to be particularly proud of. But to read about these events in such vivid detail is another experience altogether. It's an odd feeling - to simultaneously root for the romance and protagonists, but also feel a little ashamed and angry about your country's history. But it's only right to feel that way, because it's the truth and any attempt to rationalize those feelings are efforts to wipe away the past. I don't want to forget the past - I want to learn every last detail and watch my two protagonists earn their happily ever after. In REBEL, I was able to do both. I don't want to spoil much about the plot, so I'll be brief: Valinda is a Northerner who comes down to New Orleans in order to be a teacher. She has a "fiance" (I say fiance in quotation marks because it's more of a convenient arrangement without love) in France. Drake rescues her one night from an attack, Valinda gets evicted from her lodgings, and Drake's mother offers Valinda a place to stay. It's pretty much insta-love from the very beginning, and both characters struggle to resist their attraction because of Val's engagement. “I blame you and your pirate kin. I was fine until I met your family with all its love and passion.” I love Valinda. She's my favorite kind of heroine: responsible and caring, with a lot of hellion thrown in. As Drake once admirably points out, she climbed trees when she was young! And no matter all the obstacles in her way, she always responds with grace and kindness. Her commitment to her work and teaching is admirable, especially when circumstances go out of their way to deprive her of professional work. “What’s your dream, cheri?” “To head up a school where girls who, like me, have no interest in embroidery or playing the piano, can learn as much about whatever they want: mathematics, botany, the stars. They can study animals or anatomy. And I’d have the money to provide excellent teachers who don’t believe learning will damage them.” I appreciate how considerate Drake is to Valinda. He has a lot of power - both physically and his overall presence - but he never pressures Val into having a relationship with him. The consent lines are drawn very clearly. Even after Val's fiance comes back, he doesn't outright beg her to stay in New Orleans because he doesn't want to put that kind of pressure on her. He wants Val to make the decision for herself and without emotional manipulation because it's her choice and he wants her to be happy - with or without him. “If you do leave New Orleans, I’m keeping your smile so I can pull it out and look at it whenever I think of you.” There is some really dark content in this book - racism, white supremacy, the murder of black people, mentions of past slavery, current unfair/discriminatory practices, etc. It was sometimes painful to read, but important. But despite the dark content, the book still doesn't feel dreary. There is plenty of humor, love, and lightness from the main couple's romance. And the book ends on an optimistic and hopeful note for the couple, even if the world around them isn't utopia. If you love Beverly Jenkins, you'll definitely love this book. If you've never tried her work before, then this is an excellent place to start. I am looking forward to the next entry in the series. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kelsie Maxwell

    Rebel Beverly Jenkins Rebel is the first book in the Women Who Dare series by Beverly Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins is renowned for her bestselling romance novels and Rebel did not disappoint. Valinda Lacy has come to New Orleans to educate former slaves. Captain Drake LeVeq is a volunteer at the New Orleans Freedmen Bureau. They are both passionate about their work, and they’ve found passion with each other. Can they find love? Rebel is not a simple romance novel. Well it is, but it’s so much more. This Rebel Beverly Jenkins Rebel is the first book in the Women Who Dare series by Beverly Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins is renowned for her bestselling romance novels and Rebel did not disappoint. Valinda Lacy has come to New Orleans to educate former slaves. Captain Drake LeVeq is a volunteer at the New Orleans Freedmen Bureau. They are both passionate about their work, and they’ve found passion with each other. Can they find love? Rebel is not a simple romance novel. Well it is, but it’s so much more. This novel is set during the Reconstruction Era, and it is realistically detailed. Beverly Jenkins has managed to convey the contentious nature of race relations following the emancipation of slaves, while relaying a beautiful love story. She accomplished this without trivializing either one. The true beauty of this work is that the author touches on varied racial situations, but still injects humor into the dialogue. I give Rebel 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to all lovers of romance novels. Be advised there is some explicit sexual content. My thanks to HarperCollins Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. However the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kate Quinn

    A re-read for me, as I realized Beverly Jenkins's next in the series (Wild Rain) is out this spring--don't know why I forgot to note and rate it before! Just as good as a reread; a charming heroine & hero in the midst of a fresh, thought-provoking historical setting. Looking forward to the next. A re-read for me, as I realized Beverly Jenkins's next in the series (Wild Rain) is out this spring--don't know why I forgot to note and rate it before! Just as good as a reread; a charming heroine & hero in the midst of a fresh, thought-provoking historical setting. Looking forward to the next.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian Johnson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. After finishing Rebel, I promptly ordered another half dozen Beverly Jenkins novels. I got a lot out of this reading experience, especially as I began to appreciate how fully the supporting cast would feature in this Reconstruction-era historical, which often felt as much like a family saga or a small town ensemble piece as a romance. The largely untroubled courtship between sexually innocent but steely school teacher Valinda Lacy and virtually superheroic Civil War veteran Drake LeVeq organizes After finishing Rebel, I promptly ordered another half dozen Beverly Jenkins novels. I got a lot out of this reading experience, especially as I began to appreciate how fully the supporting cast would feature in this Reconstruction-era historical, which often felt as much like a family saga or a small town ensemble piece as a romance. The largely untroubled courtship between sexually innocent but steely school teacher Valinda Lacy and virtually superheroic Civil War veteran Drake LeVeq organizes the action, and the story of Val’s gradual rebellion against her overbearing father’s expectations is satisfying. Initially, the two MCs are committed to other people: Valinda is headed for a loveless marriage of convenience to a newspaper man, and Drake has a hookup arrangement with a fabulous mistress. But when Val arrives in vibrant, multiethnic New Orleans to contribute to Reconstruction by setting up a school for free men and women, Drake saves her from a gang of thuggish soldiers and immediately becomes her protector. Val is quickly introduced to Drake’s family--the pirate-blooded and glamorous Leveqs, whose stories have featured in numerous earlier novels (now all lined up on my to-read shelf)--and Drake’s formidable mother Juliana and his badass, pistol-packing sister-in-law Sable take Val under their wings and begin the process of nourishing the free-spirited “Hellion” within her that her father has been intent on suppressing. The LeVeqs are a lusty and affectionate family, famous for marrying for love at a time when most marriages were practical affairs--a family trait that acquires an extra tang of defiance in the community of newly free men and women of color. The New Orleans of the novel, in which the powers of black family and community are especially concentrated, may be under threat from Confederate reactionaries, but make no mistake: this is Juliana LeVeq’s world, and if Jenkins has a fictional proxy in this book, it is certainly Juliana, whose benevolent gaze subtly controls the action. Small wonder that there is very little romantic conflict: as Drake is instantly and (except for one perfunctory moment of hesitation) consistently enthralled with Val; Val herself is instantly drawn to the larger-than-life pirate-blooded hero too. The only thing that slows them down is Val’s uncertainty about romantic love, an emotion she has never really experienced before. Val's erotic education and emotional awakening advance in unison in response to Drake's cheeky innuendos and patient, persistent, loving touch. The romantic rivals politely excuse themselves without fuss: Val’s betrothed is gay and has a boyfriend anyway, and Drake’s mistress has bigger fish to fry. With the path open for the lovers, Drake shows Val his childhood treehouse and his plans for a new romantic love nest in the treetops between steamy makeout sessions with her in the family gazebo and retrofitting old train cars to create classrooms for her new school. This is only half the story though--indeed, perhaps less than half, since the novel is equally interested in dramatizing the history of the Reconstruction period, particularly as it was lived by newly freed slaves. Secondary characters proliferate in the book: and all are given the dignity of names and backstories. Accounts of soldaway children and spouses and fractured black families left in their wake haunt the margins of the novel’s plot, as do the stories of young lovers of different races who flee into the night seeking new lives. Many of the incidents that Jenkins packs into this narrative resonate with contemporary politics and ongoing anti-racist struggle: making sure that black voters are registered, securing access to education for the recently freed, enduring the slow death of bureaucratic red tape that endlessly stalls the distribution of necessaries, finding justice for the victims of racist violence… It is a grim litany and a clear indictment of contemporary as well as historical injustice. Much of the novel’s main action is propelled by these issues, and it is to incidents like the murder of a former slave by a former plantation owner when the free man protests the latter’s exploitative contract, that Val and Drake’s romance sometimes plays second fiddle. There is a great deal of political intrigue and action around newly formed white supremacist secret societies in the novel, including a siege of the elder LeVeq manse and the burning of the hero’s own home. Perhaps most interesting, in a work that intertwines progressive racial uplift with the genre priorities of romance and family, is its darker turns towards revenge fantasy when a former slave-holder and the murderer of a free man is himself abducted in the night and fed to the alligators by a cloaked order of freedom fighters who--the novel is coy on this point--may or may not include the hero, an equivocation that allows gentler readers to savour the fantasy of vengeance without necessarily endorsing its counterviolence while giving more militant readers a narrative development that does justice to the rage and anguish systemic racism provokes. As a white reader, it’s not my place to comment on the “for us by us” reparative achievements of Jenkins’s fiction. But I will acknowledge how reading her work has impacted me. Jenkins describes her work as “infotainment,” and that is very much how I experienced it--though that maligned term does not do justice to the pedagogical cultural work that it performs. Jenkins writes about heroines who are teachers (Val is a self-taught educator in this novel)--and Jenkins, too, is a teacher. I know that it is common for fans of historical romance to celebrate the genre as not just pleasurable, but educational. I really felt that here. At this point in time, when learning about black history and reflecting on how the history of anti-black racism and oppression in the U.S. (and Canada) has fed contemporary forms of oppression is everyone’s responsibility, Jenkins’ fictional universe is a gift. In my own reading history, Rebel is something like romance’s answer to Octavia Butler’s Kindred--a work of speculative fiction that, like Rebel, finds in the tropes of popular genres a powerful idiom for critically anatomizing the violence of white supremacy and celebrating the power and bonds of love of those who have had to--and still do--find ways to resist and dismantle it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steph's Romance Book Talk

    4.5 Stars / 3 Steam Fans Despite this story being very heavy on the historical themes for a majority of the book in the end I really enjoyed it. I crave the historical aspects that Beverly Jenkins brings to her storytelling because she does an amazing job of setting the scene without being super heavy. However, this story is very heavy in the historical aspects of slavery, white supremacy, and arranged marriage for most of the books so I almost DNFed this book. I am happy that I finished it. Thi 4.5 Stars / 3 Steam Fans Despite this story being very heavy on the historical themes for a majority of the book in the end I really enjoyed it. I crave the historical aspects that Beverly Jenkins brings to her storytelling because she does an amazing job of setting the scene without being super heavy. However, this story is very heavy in the historical aspects of slavery, white supremacy, and arranged marriage for most of the books so I almost DNFed this book. I am happy that I finished it. This specific video review will be included in the June 2019 wrap-up. For other video book reviews check out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Romance Book Talk.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ka’leneReads

    GoodRead But a little tamed for Jenkins but good Nonetheless

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nana

    "Rebel" It's my first Beverly Jenkins book, but I guess it wasn't for me. It wasn’t a bad story but I found it boring. "Rebel" It's my first Beverly Jenkins book, but I guess it wasn't for me. It wasn’t a bad story but I found it boring.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lois

    The history in this novel is so much better than the romance

  17. 4 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    I want you to be happy, Val. You’ve always wanted to conquer the world. Love with the right person makes us stronger, not weaker. On my blog. Rep: black mcs, gay side character with physical disability Galley provided by publisher This book is probably the most it’s-not-you-it’s-me book that I’ve read so far this year. It was a good book, I could tell that, but the writing just wasn’t my kind of style, so I struggled to get through it. Rebel is a romance between Valinda Lacy, a school I want you to be happy, Val. You’ve always wanted to conquer the world. Love with the right person makes us stronger, not weaker. On my blog. Rep: black mcs, gay side character with physical disability Galley provided by publisher This book is probably the most it’s-not-you-it’s-me book that I’ve read so far this year. It was a good book, I could tell that, but the writing just wasn’t my kind of style, so I struggled to get through it. Rebel is a romance between Valinda Lacy, a schoolmistress from New York teaching in New Orleans, and Drake LeVeq, an architect (who doesn’t seem to do a whole lot of architect-ing) from a prominent New Orleans family. After Drake saves Valinda from an attack, she stays with his mother and they slowly fall in love with each other. WHAT I LIKED: > I loved Valinda. She was such a great heroine and she took none of Drake’s shit. Her chapters were the ones I found most readable in the whole book, and I kind of wish it had only been from her POV for that reason. > The angst when Valinda’s betrothed arrives in New Orleans was zilch, which I really appreciated. They had an arrangement of convenience but I didn’t realise just how convenient until he showed up and no one was angry or shouting. It was a lovely change from a lot of romances. > Also the fairly rapid writing-out of Drake’s mistress. Admittedly I would have liked to have seen more of her, but also I appreciate that there was no pitting women against each other going on. > The plot was great. If I’d liked the writing more, I would absolutely have loved this book because of the characters and plot. It was just the writing that let it down for me. WHAT I DISLIKED: > I wasn’t the biggest fan of Drake’s and his brothers talking about “staking a claim” on Valinda. And no one called it out. The blurb is all about Drake being brought up around strong women, but they just let this talk fly? Huh. > The writing – which I already mentioned a lot, so I won’t say much more here. Just that I found it clunky and occasionally too purple-prosey. Tied into this was that, while I could see the relationship development happening, I didn’t feel anything about it. > Nitpicking a little for this one, but whenever Drake used a French endearment for Valinda I cringed (another thing that’s just me though, really). Also the French was wrong. It was cheri but Valinda’s a woman. It should have been cherie. > It felt like some overarching plotlines were just added as backdrop and then dropped by the wayside somewhat unresolved. But then again, the focus is the romance, so that’s understandable. > Valinda casually outing Cole to Drake at the end, to explain why theirs was an arrangement of convenience. Like. Who are you to do that? Who knows what Drake’s thoughts are on that? You don’t need to explain the specifics of the arrangement, especially not if it could conceivably endanger the other person. But alright. So, yeah. This was just one of those where I struggled with the writing, even though the book itself was good.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    In the time of Reconstruction after the American Civil War, New Orleans is a roiling city. An intrepid Northern woman comes south to fight her own brand of independence and follow her dreams of teaching her own race and being her own woman like her grandmother. Valinda encounters Drake Le Veq and learns that passion and love are possible and she can dream of that for herself, too. My first read with this author and it won't be my last the way history came alive and sensual romance made me swoon. In the time of Reconstruction after the American Civil War, New Orleans is a roiling city. An intrepid Northern woman comes south to fight her own brand of independence and follow her dreams of teaching her own race and being her own woman like her grandmother. Valinda encounters Drake Le Veq and learns that passion and love are possible and she can dream of that for herself, too. My first read with this author and it won't be my last the way history came alive and sensual romance made me swoon. Rebel is the first book in the Women Who Dare series, but it is also the fourth book in the Le Veq series. I had no trouble beginning with this story as a first in series, but now I want to go back for the three earlier Le Veq stories and the closely related Indigo. Valinda comes south from NYC to teach school under the auspices of a Convent and the Freedman's Bureau. She comes alone and only with her father's dubious blessing. She grew up free and educated in a fine upstanding family, but she never felt truly free knowing her father saw marrying her off as a business transaction at best. But, she has no intentions of marrying into a cold, arranged marriage and plans to marry a friend who won't hinder her plans or have expectations. Right now, Cole is in Paris trying to get start-up help for his newspaper and she is temporarily in New Orleans to teach school. But, it is dangerous times and she is set upon by three men who started squatting in the barn she was using as a school. A handsome man comes to her rescue and she is pulled into the intriguing world of the House of LeVeq descendants of pirates and their fierce, strong independent loves. Captain Drake LeVeq is a catch around New Orleans and he isn't intimidated by a courageous woman with plans. He is attracted to Valinda and is frustrated that she is intended elsewhere. He understands dreams with his work as a builder and architect and volunteer work in the Freedman's Bureau and other organizations that protect and aid his own race and all people get a leg up after the war. Naturally, there are bigoted and prejudiced men who resort to threats and violence to have his way and his own Lieutenant is one of them. He tries to avoid Valinda, but finds her sweet innocence paired with the respect he feels for her capability and intelligence a heady combo to resist. I went into this one eager because I've been meaning to try this author's work for years. I even have a couple on the shelf, but this latest was the one that finally got me. The Reconstruction Era South and old New Orleans is something of a favorite period and setting for me. I was thrilled to discover shortly into the book that the author did her homework and painted the background and setting well. She brought in a free Northerner's perspective, long-time free wealthy black business women, the sometimes snooty Creoles and the vibrant times and troubles for people trying to get their lives back after war and many starting over with nothing. As to the romance, that is where I was on iffy ground. I loved both characters and thought they were great for each other. Respect and understanding was as important as the sexual attraction which was great to see. However, I'm not a fan of my romance pair starting something even if its just kisses and spending time together with each other on their minds when they come with encumbrances. Valinda was engaged and Drake had a mistress. He eventually didn't have the mistress, but it wasn't because he left her- she took a better offer. I would have felt better if he had set the mistress aside earlier, but to be fair, he thought Valinda was going to leave and marry her intended. It was Valinda who niggled me more. She was attracted to Drake and wanted to get rid of her own innocence so she kept up a light seduction to get him to show her and teacher her things. He was the gentleman who said no and kept his distance and she came onto him. It had a whiff of using him since she wasn't planning to pursue him and that I found disappointing. There was some late inning conflict when Valinda is forced to come to terms with whether she can trust that there really is such a thing as a love match between equals. Her waste of air father did some damage to her that now has to be handled. I get that, but at this point in the book after she's been in intimate contact with three couples who are in love and are equal partners all from Drake's family, her resistance to him felt a tad contrived. I loved Valinda's choice to provide education as her help to others and later realizing that practical skills paired with a fine education would serve people better than just handouts. The darker side of rape and pillaging from both sides, secret groups protecting their own and wrecking revenge, militant segregation, and evil people and opportunists taking advantage of the after-war chaos was also there and helped make up some of the book's suspenseful moments. Overall this was a splendid first outing with the author. I enjoyed her writing and will definitely be going back for more particularly the Le Veq family series and related stories. Historical Romance fans should definitely give this authentic-feeling, sensual, and engaging book/series a go. I rec'd this book via Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashton Reads

    This was definitely my favorite Beverly Jenkins that I’ve read so far! The romance felt more central to the plot than some of her others, and Drake was such a swoony big bear of a hero!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ezinwanyi Chinyere

    I loved this book. What a brilliantly written story full of everything I love in a novel: romance, love, danger, tension, character growth and family/community. Beverly Jenkins is one of my favorite authors because she doesn't just tell a story, she educates the reader. It is so apparent that she really researches the era and crafts the story in a way that the reader will leave knowing a few more things about our American History. This story moved a fast pace, had drama and that familial ties tha I loved this book. What a brilliantly written story full of everything I love in a novel: romance, love, danger, tension, character growth and family/community. Beverly Jenkins is one of my favorite authors because she doesn't just tell a story, she educates the reader. It is so apparent that she really researches the era and crafts the story in a way that the reader will leave knowing a few more things about our American History. This story moved a fast pace, had drama and that familial ties that embraced people who don't have loved ones around. In this new series set in the 1860's, Valinda Lacey moved to New Orleans to work with Nuns to educate newly empanciated slaves. She was met with some resistance from one of the nuns as well as some white supremacists who attacked her carriage. Luckily, Captain Drake LeVeq and his sister in law were on the road and rescued Valinda. It eventually led to Drake's mother to offer Valinda a place to stay and a job. Valinda was compassionate and was clear as to she wanted to spend her life as an educator. Drake was a contractor who also volunteered at the Freedmen's Bureau. Drake and Valinda had qualities that the other admired but there was hinderance. Even though Drake was attracted to Valinda and vice versa, but she was engaged to be married to a man whom she didn't love. The marriage was important to Valinda because it guaranteed her freedom from her father and the protection of her fiance's name. Drake had his work cut out for him to show Valinda that she could have it all: freedom, family protection as well as passionate love. I expected a well written story and I wasn't disappointed. I listened to this story and I smiled, laughed, felt sympathy, anger and hope. These characters were resilient in spirit despite the financial or societal circumstances. This author clearly values family because the LeVeq family has been a pillar in the community for several of her books. Another thing that amazed me was the way she wrote passionate sex scenes. They weren't crass and overly descriptive, just enough to make you feel butterflies in your belly but not look over your shoulder in embarrassment for your Pastor. Bravo!!! I am excited for this new series Women Who Dare and I can't wait for the next installment.

  21. 5 out of 5

    ColumbusReads

    My very first romance novel ever and it won’t be my last. To be honest, this is romance/historical fiction, Reconstruction. I fell in love with Valinda, Drake and the entire LeVeq clan. This is the first in the Women Who Dare series and I’ll be there for the others. Enjoyed!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Check out all of our reviews at https://reallyintothis.com Happy Reading, friends! "I am descended from Pirates. Boldness is in my blood." First, can I say how incredibly refreshing it is to read a historical romance novel that is not set in Regency England? No offense to my beloved England, but I didn't realize how much I would enjoy this time period. I also need to point out how much I learned while reading Rebel by Beverly Jenkins. The author's note at the end of Rebel sums it up best. This stor Check out all of our reviews at https://reallyintothis.com Happy Reading, friends! "I am descended from Pirates. Boldness is in my blood." First, can I say how incredibly refreshing it is to read a historical romance novel that is not set in Regency England? No offense to my beloved England, but I didn't realize how much I would enjoy this time period. I also need to point out how much I learned while reading Rebel by Beverly Jenkins. The author's note at the end of Rebel sums it up best. This story takes place during Reconstruction during 1867 aka "America's unfinished revolution" in the heart of New Orleans. Readers see the broken system that continues to thwart the success of Black people & the challenges facing those who are newly freed. We also relish in the success of the LeVeq family. While reading this with my buddy @suspensethrill I realized the LeVeg family has several books before the Women Who Dare series. Make no mistake, I will be reading them immediately because I am in love with this large family of brothers and then women who keep them. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I love Valinda. She is a true, strong heroine worthy of the Women Who Dare series name. No matter what life throws her way, she perseveres through it all. The setting of New Orleans is always magical with fortune tellers, good food, rich history & damn fine people. I devoured this book slowly as I took in every word. Beverly Jenkins sets a scene like no other & her words are magical in that they transport you completely to another time and place. I can't wait to read the second book in this series!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    "She'd dared to come to Louisiana alone. Then dared to help the freedmen and believe she could start a school. But the best one? Daring herself to accept Drake's love." Welp! This book just came out of nowhere and became my new favorite Beverly Jenkins novel. I mean, I should have known it was gonna be good. Look at that cover. But I had no idea I'd be this goofy for it. 2019 has been a year of amazing romances and I'm happy for the trend to continue. The setting. This book takes place in Reconstr "She'd dared to come to Louisiana alone. Then dared to help the freedmen and believe she could start a school. But the best one? Daring herself to accept Drake's love." Welp! This book just came out of nowhere and became my new favorite Beverly Jenkins novel. I mean, I should have known it was gonna be good. Look at that cover. But I had no idea I'd be this goofy for it. 2019 has been a year of amazing romances and I'm happy for the trend to continue. The setting. This book takes place in Reconstruction-era New Orleans, which adds a vibrancy to the story that I loved. I can't imagine it taking place anywhere else. The food, the music, the people, the traditions: You get a sense of all of that through the writing. The opportunity and chaos of the period comes out through the pages in the stories we're told of struggling freedman, wealthy Creoles and dangerous white supremacists. Even the background details are spot-on. A funeral parade is mentioned in passing and the music is described as mournful and exuberant. I LOVE IT. I LOVE NEW ORLEANS! It's so wonderful! The hero. OMG, Drake is the softest Beverly Jenkins hero I've ever read and I loved it. He's written as this big, opposing bear of a man who is actually very tenderhearted. You can feel how much he cares for his family, those in need and, especially, Valinda. I love, love, LOVED how he supports her in her goals assisting the freedman. My kryptonite in romances are leads who support and build each other up as they work to better themselves and grow (i.e. A Prince on Paper or The Bride Test ... I swear, it's been such a good year for empowering romance). This filled that need perfectly. Drake never bulldozes Valinda into loving him or comes off as an arrogant Don Juan who's used to women falling at his feet. *cough*likeRaimond*cough* Even when he doesn't think they could have a future together, he works to help her reach her goals simply to make her happy. He also takes out a bunch of racists, which is alright with me. And he does it all with a French accent. 😭 I'm gonna cry. Where's my Drake!? The heroine. Valinda was such an unexpected Jenkins heroine! I like that she wasn't sure about what she wanted to do with her life and was open about her confusion and vulnerabilities. Typical Jenkins heroines are strong, sassy and usually know exactly what they want out of life. And it's not that Valinda isn't those things — she stands up to her father and doesn't put up with the rich Creole women who want to put her in her place. But she does admit to not being sure about what she wants to do with her future. She has well-laid plans for her life but she also feels a calling to the city and as a teacher to the people who need her help. It's truly satisfying to watch her grow in her role as an educator despite the challenges she faces. (view spoiler)[What's more, one big decision she has to make is breaking off her engagement to her fiancé, Cole. Their relationship is more than just a business arrangement, despite what the characters say. Marriage to Valinda would offer Cole a measure of protection, as he is a gay man trying blend into 19th-century society. She's concerned for his well-being as well as her own. I think this kind of rep is a first in a Jenkins novel! Another reviewer said they wanted a Cole novella and I'm right there with 'em. (hide spoiler)] The history. As with any Beverly Jenkins novel, the book is also steeped in American history, a lot of it painful. I know that Reconstruction offered Black people a mixed bag of new opportunities and broken promises, but I was shocked by just how violent and dangerous it could be. This book doesn't sugar coat the reality of life back then. The characters face real, violent consequences for their work to bring justice and opportunity to the freedman. It's never too overwhelming, though, and we're reminded that progress always moves forward. As I said, this book came out of nowhere and just wow'd me. I love the characters, their journeys and the history I learned about one of my favorite cities. Get this book when it comes out. Get is ASAP!

  24. 4 out of 5

    WTF Are You Reading?

    I can't tell you how delighted I am as a blogger, Historical Romance fan, and as an African-American woman living in the South. To read Beverly Jenkins' Rebel. Not only does this compelling read check all the universal romance boxes of: damsels in distress, dashing heroes, and passions hot enough to set pages aflame. This book allows readers to see in its hero and heroine. Educated proactive people. Willing to do whatever they must to right the wrongs of institutionalized racism and bigotry. In a I can't tell you how delighted I am as a blogger, Historical Romance fan, and as an African-American woman living in the South. To read Beverly Jenkins' Rebel. Not only does this compelling read check all the universal romance boxes of: damsels in distress, dashing heroes, and passions hot enough to set pages aflame. This book allows readers to see in its hero and heroine. Educated proactive people. Willing to do whatever they must to right the wrongs of institutionalized racism and bigotry. In a freshly war ravaged land. Full of people lost and clinging to whatever vestiges of comfort and familiarity there is to be had. For teacher, Valinda Lacey. A woman trying to escape the prospect of marriage to an older man that she doesn't know. Arranged by her father. Only to find herself a target of racist army officers. When she tries to establish a school in her newly adopted home of New Orleans. Enter Captain Drake LeVeq. A ranking officer in the Army, an architect, and the son of an affluent family of color in New Orleans. He is just the right person to help Miss Lacey navigate both the bureaucratic pitfalls surrounding her attempts at establishing and maintaining a school meant for the education and betterment of not only students of color. But anyone wishing to educate themselves. As well as the societal dangers of a woman alone in unfamiliar territory. What neither of the two count on however. Is the attraction that their continued interactions seem to encourage. An attraction that they are powerless to deny. An attraction that they both know has the stuff to become so much more. This is a romance that is so much more than a romance. Providing social commentary, historical truth, thrills, chills, and so much more. The perfect "against all odds story. Tailor-made to enlighten, inspire, intrigue, and nestle securely within the hearts of all who read it. Reviewer's Note ***This book is the first of an interrelated series. Which may be read as a standalone. Or as part of its intended series. Thanks to Avon Books, Edelweiss, and Netgalley for providing the review copy upon which my critique is based.

  25. 5 out of 5

    The Book Junkie Reads . . .

    4 1/2 heated post war stars . . . Beverly Jenkins delivers again for the revisit to post Civil War Louisiana and the LeVeq family. Now, we get to see more of the family specifically the brothers that intrigued with the wit and charm. The accuracy. The information. The time period. The tie in to the reconstruction, the post Civil War, the emancipation, and most importantly for me the family LeVeq was just magic for me. I loved reading how another strong, protective LeVeq fell to his queen. Valind 4 1/2 heated post war stars . . . Beverly Jenkins delivers again for the revisit to post Civil War Louisiana and the LeVeq family. Now, we get to see more of the family specifically the brothers that intrigued with the wit and charm. The accuracy. The information. The time period. The tie in to the reconstruction, the post Civil War, the emancipation, and most importantly for me the family LeVeq was just magic for me. I loved reading how another strong, protective LeVeq fell to his queen. Valinda and Drake will not be given their romance on a silver platter. In Jenkins magic, they have to fight to have the love they both crave. I have wanted more from the LeVeq family every since meeting them years ago. Being able to visit again the family, the city, the efforts was like returning home to see old friends. Beverly Jenkins can write some delicious black historical romance that draw you in to the time period, the events of the time, the atmosphere of the entire surroundings. The characters she create allow for you to make some type of connection to them or those around them. Love.

  26. 4 out of 5

    The CurvyJones

    As always, I thoroughly enjoyed Beverly Jenkins latest novel. This series, Women Who Dare, is going to be a fun and exciting one. Jenkins always writes heroines that are braver than I dare to be in TODAY's times, let alone in history when women had much less freedom and sexual congress. And let's not mince words about that gorgeous cover. I plan to buy the paperback just so I can have it! Great read, as always. Ms Jenkins is very much a comfort read for me. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed Beverly Jenkins latest novel. This series, Women Who Dare, is going to be a fun and exciting one. Jenkins always writes heroines that are braver than I dare to be in TODAY's times, let alone in history when women had much less freedom and sexual congress. And let's not mince words about that gorgeous cover. I plan to buy the paperback just so I can have it! Great read, as always. Ms Jenkins is very much a comfort read for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lex with the Text (Alexis Sims)

    Oh my goodness. This book was just wonderful. I mean it was everything. I was ALL in my feelings! I already love historical fiction but I’m not really a romance kinda girl. It’s to mushy. Lol. But geez, now that I have finished reading this book, I’m reconsidering this stance. Maybe I was just reading the “wrong ones”. I’ve always heard that Beverly Jenkins’ love stories will have you swooning. And I definitely was . It was just perfect.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    Dear Ms. Jenkins, I would like Cole's story, even if just as a novella. Please and thank you. Billie Dear Ms. Jenkins, I would like Cole's story, even if just as a novella. Please and thank you. Billie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Toria

    Beverly Jenkins knows how to deliver a good historical romance, lovely romance, strong heroines and a good portion of depth. I really enjoyed reading about the heroine in this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    I received an arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review Original review posted on my blog : Word Wonders CW: Assault, violence, arsony, murder, racism. It’s been so long since I’ve actually written a review that I am now 110% rusty. It’s been almost two months, which for some may not be too long but I went almost a year writing two reviews a week and then…nothing. But, anyway, YES. THE BOOK. Rebel was my introduction to historical romance and what an am I received an arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review Original review posted on my blog : Word Wonders CW: Assault, violence, arsony, murder, racism. It’s been so long since I’ve actually written a review that I am now 110% rusty. It’s been almost two months, which for some may not be too long but I went almost a year writing two reviews a week and then…nothing. But, anyway, YES. THE BOOK. Rebel was my introduction to historical romance and what an amazing introduction it was. I was very intimidated by the genre but the moment I started this book it made me forget every reason that was ever the case. It’s just so good, easy to read and well paced that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. The writing in this one is amazing, and I know Beverly Jenkins is a notorious historical romance author so that should absolutely not come as a surprise to be but I’m a noob, so bare with me. It just flows so nicely and is this perfect balance between feeling a little old and classic as to fit the genre and time period but also simple and easy enough to read as to not confuse the modern day reader. And I think that’s trickier than it seems to achieve, it requires a skill and knowledge of language that not mant have, especially when it comes to banter. On the one side of this delightful romance, we have Valinda. A Black woman who traveled from New York to New Orleans with the one and only purpose of teaching the freed to read and write and make it easier for them to find decent jobs post slavery. I loved her so much. She’s this very smart, driven and ambitious woman who won’t let anyone stop her from getting to her goals, not even her super controlling father. At the beginning of Rebel, she starts off as slightly uptight woman who gets flustered easily with this sassy side that peaks out from time to time. But as the story moves along, and she dares more and more to explore her dreams and go after them, we see her grow more confident and self-assured which only draws out that sassy playful side of her more, because she feels more free to be herself out of her father’s reach. Then we have Drake, who is the biggest human teddy bear I’ve ever seen or read. He’s a huge man with a huge heart who refuses to hide it, he has a heart of gold and a child’s soul, he loves building things (especially tree houses) and adores his family. He’s decendant from a pirate AND a gentleman, the perfect man I tell you. The big family aspect must be one of my favourite things about this book. The way Drake loves his family and the way they love him, how close he is with his mom, the way he acts with his brothers, how they have each other’s backs no matter what. It all made my heart grow ten sizes. The relationship between these starts purely as a friendship at first, then little by little they start realizing that they are attracted to each other. Drake is very open about his attraction to her and initiates the flirtation expecting Val to not bite back but, eventhough she starts off flustered, she then gives him a run for his money and it’s the cutest, funniest thing ever. Their back and forth and banter were delightful and never failed to make me smile. Not just that but just how close and comfortable they grow with each other and how much Drake supports Val’s dream and cheers her on whenever she starts doubting her abilities or the fisability of her goals. The smut is also really good eventhough there wasn’t a ton if it. Rebel is also set in New Orleans right after Freedom so it’s not all good and fun. It’s a cute book but not a fluffy one because it deals with the racism and violence of the time and the insistance of supremasists to keep Black people enslaved by any means necessary. There’s some racial violence but I absolutely loved how the whole things was handled and how the author didn’t gloss over showing how hard those time were for newly freed folks even though her MCs were both born free. Even in a romance novel. And I think that’s really important because romance doesn’t exist in a vacuum. All in all, Rebel was the best introduction to Historical Romance and girl could have asked for and I can’t wait to read more of the genre and of Beverly Jenkins specifically.

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