I’ve been reading through Beverly Jenkins’s backlist lately and I thought I’d tell you about the Grayson Family duology in the same post even though it’s slightly out of the chronological order of my reading. As though anyone other than me is keeping tabs on that sort of thing. Sometimes my brain boggles at how much research Ms. Bev had to put in to write all these amazing historicals, especially when you consider that she’s writing about the lives of Black people in the US (Native characters pop up quite a bit, too!) It’s not like researching Regency England where there are eleventy billion easily accessible resources, you know? Ms. Bev has had to do a lot of digging and it’s completely worth it. I never expected this sort of frontier/western style of romance to appeal to me but I’m gobbling them up at a frantic pace. The well-researched romance novel is an underutilized teaching tool. I mean, I learned historical facts not covered in standard US teaching curriculum AND enjoyed some spicy love scenes. This is a win-win.
Vivid by Beverly Jenkins: That 25th anniversary cover art is just flipping gorgeous, isn’t it? Viveca Lancaster has just trekked halfway across the country to begin her medical practice in the Michigan town of Grayson Grove. She’s thrilled to have the opportunity to practice because it’s 1876 and female physicians aren’t exactly the norm. (Let’s face it, medicine during this time period was in need of an upgrade. The very idea that basic hygiene could be controversial, is just… And don’t get me started on blood letting. Whose idea was that? It literally never ever worked out well for the patient!) Our Dr. Lancaster is a professional, she knows her stuff, and she’s ready to go. She’s also clean and doesn’t believe in using leeches, so, she’s a big improvement on Grayson Grove’s last doctor. Unfortunately, Viveca immediately meets the curmudgeonly yet handsome mayor, Nate Grayson. His aunt hired Viveca via correspondence and neglected to tell him that the new doctor was a woman (that Abigail is a spitfire.) Nate is convinced that Vivid won’t be able to hack life in Grayson Grove, but Nate doesn’t know Vivid. Dr. Lancaster is as stubborn as she is competent, and soon she begins to win over the townsfolk, one patient at a time. Nate’s stony exterior doesn’t stand a chance. This book will tug at all your heartstrings (or ventricles? Whatever. It’s a good thing she’s fictional, because I’m sure Dr. Lancaster would take umbrage with my casual and medically incorrect idioms.)
Jewel by Beverly Jenkins: Who’s ready for a sham marriage? Eli Grayson (cousin of Nate Grayson, a relationship not without a lot of, uh, baggage) has something of a reputation. Mainly? He used to drink too much and carouse with women. He quit the drinking part, but it still a well-known ladies’ man. He recently had to close down his newspaper, a heartbreaking development for the town of Grayson Grove. The newspaper is offered a resurrection in the form of a Black publishing magnate who is looking to expand his holdings. The only catch? He doesn’t trust bachelors. In order to close the deal, Eli has to hastily convince his friend Jewel to pose as his wife. Just for one dinner. But Grayson Grove is a small town bursting with busybodies. When word gets around that it was all a farce, Jewel’s reputation will be decimated, and Eli will lose his newspaper. Again. So they do the only logical thing. They get married for real. And then feelings happen. Why wouldn’t they? Eli and Jewel are attractive people with chemistry, OK? But soon enough trouble comes to town, in the form of the afore-mentioned baggage. Can Eli and Jewel’s newfound love survive? It’s a romance novel, so OBVIOUSLY it can, but it gets put through the proverbial wringer first. The Grayson family has to work hard for their happy endings, I tell you what. If you’re in the mood for a sham marriage, this is a tough one to beat!
That’s all for today, Bookworms. It’s been raining for days on end and the incessant grayness is eating away at my will to make bad jokes. I’m signing off before I start belting out plaintive early 2000s song lyrics. Send some sunshine my way if you’ve got some to spare!
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