Dueling Reviews and Giveaway: Breathless by Beverly Jenkins

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May Contain Spoilers

I have heard good things about Beverly Jenkins’ books, so when the opportunity arose to be part of the blog tour for Breathless, I jumped at the chance.  I thought it would be fun to ask Poo Penny to read and review the book, too, so we could give you two opinions of the title.  Poo was not a fan; this was not her cup of tea. I had a mixed, but overall, positive reading experience.  Check out our reviews and then enter for a chance to win a copy of Breathless for yourself!

Poo Penny’s Review:

All right, I am sorry. I really tried. I wanted to really like this one. But, it had a few things already going against it that I don’t typically like in my romances. First, its a western, and second, its a western. Alright, so I guess that didn’t sink in when my Aunt told me it was a western, all I heard was it was Avon Books, Dare’s publisher, and I was like, Tessa Dare! I love her.

It started out good, there was a lot of drama, they were on the run because Portia’s Aunt’s husband was pretending to be white and people found out and did not like it, which I imagine in 1885 was a big deal. Then, the story picks up 15 years later, they have a successful hotel and dude ranch, and this is where I got lost. I would have liked to see the story lead up to that I think, instead of all of a sudden they are successful, and have all this stuff. But, at about 18%, I fell asleep. Then, when I woke up I tried to pick the book back up, and fell asleep again. Well, that’s a good sign, right?

Unfortunately, I just find this writing style and story boring. Portia is adamant about not marrying, but when Kent is drinking water and some drips down his face, she wants to lap it up? OOOOOOOOOOK, lets work up to that. Lets get some flirting in, with him flirting with her, and her getting flustered first, then her having those thoughts since she is supposed to be a strong character who knows what she wants. And she is supposed to not want to get married because of her mother, which is a damn good reason. A strong woman wouldn’t just fall apart on her convictions because an attractive guy walks in her life. He would have to have more than looks, yes?
DNF’d at 20%

My Review:

My turn!  Breathless starts with a bang.  Portia is awakened in the middle of the night by her aunt, and urged to quickly dress.  A lynch mob is after her uncle, who has been pretending to be white.  As they flee, Portia watches a group of angry men torch their home.  She is terrified that they won’t be able to escape, that the men will hang her uncle Rhine.  This scene is fast-paced and really grabbed my attention.

Fast forward 15 years.  The family has resettled in Arizona Territory, and they own a successful hotel.  Rhine is a prudent businessman, and they have all prospered.  Portia works as the hotel’s bookkeeper, and she is content with her life.  She will never marry, and she bears the emotional scars of being abandoned by her mother.  Both she and her younger sister were packed up and shipped off to their Aunt Eddy, and they haven’t heard from their mother since.  Corinne was a whore, and the girls’ early years were filled with neglect and hardship.  Corinne’s customers were abusive and Portia feared for her safety.  After moving in with Rhine and Eddy, she was withdrawn and fearful of men, but as time passed, she realized both she and her sister were safe, and her aunt and uncle gave them both love and encouragement to become strong, independent women.

When Kent rides back into her life, her equilibrium is unbalanced.  He challenges her decision to steer clear of men, and makes her re-evaluate her life goals.  Will she really be content working for her uncle and staying unattached for the rest of her life.  She sees the love that is freely displayed between her aunt and uncle, but doubts that a love like that is possible for her.

The pacing sometimes drove me nuts.  There were times when the action on-page dragged, but then when it picked up, it PICKED UP.  Thankfully the lulls were regularly broken up, keeping me turning the pages.  Both Kent and Portia are complex characters, and the historical details were worked seamlessly into the story.  Portia and her circle are fighting for the right to vote, and most of the women at strong, politically active, and not afraid to speak their minds.  I liked that. 

Kent is at odds with his father.  After ditching medical school to be a cowboy, he and his father barely communicate.  I really enjoyed this subplot.  Both Kent and his father mature, and learn to put their differences aside.  Family is more important than these small disagreements, and they both learn to let go of the past.

The romance between Portia and Kent was  a mixed bag for me.  I didn’t feel that there was much chemistry, but I did like how their relationship slowly developed.  After some initial fireworks, I thought their courtship was flat, and I’m not sure why.  Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it didn’t knock my socks off. It felt long at times, with intense bursts of action that helped to make up for the lulls.

Grade:  3.75 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

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 have 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…

2016 author photo-1

About the Author:

BEVERLY JENKINS has received numerous awards, including five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards, two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine, and a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild. Ms Jenkins was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club. She was recently nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature. To read more about Beverly, please visit her website at www.beverlyjenkins.net.

Buy Link: http://avonromance.com/book/9780062389039/breathless-2/



Dear Readers,

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.

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