Series: Women who dare #1
Publisher : Avon Books| Harpercollins
Genre : Adult |Historical Romance
Page Count: 384
Synopsis : 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. (From Goodreads)
*I received an arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*
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.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Rebel? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.