For this month’s Book Review Club, I chose Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins, who is African-American. It seems appropriate for Black History Month.
by Beverly Jenkins
When I saw the cover of the book, I thought it was an inter-racial romance, but I was wrong.
Forbidden is set in the post-Civil War era. The hero, Rhine Fontaine, is a former slave who is light-skinned enough to pass into white society, and he has done so successfully by the time the book starts. The setting is Virginia City, Nevada, which apparently had a substantial African-American community at that time. Rhine, who was educated with his white half-brother, is a smart businessman who owns a number of properties in town. He runs the Union Saloon, where he refuses to discriminate between races. As a result, most of his customers are African-Americans. Rhine has a foot in both races. Though he has passed, he refuses to turn his back on his people.
Enter our heroine, Eddy Carmichael. Eddy is a free woman of color as were her parents, who died recently in a snow storm. She is headed to California, but only makes it to Virginia City where she is hired as a cook boarding house. Rhine is immediately attracted to the feisty, independent-minded, Eddy, but as a white man she is forbidden to him, except as a mistress. And Eddy will settle for no less than marriage. Plus Rhine is already engaged to a white girl whose father has business deals with Rhine.
Rhine wants Eddy, but knows he will have to cross back over the color line if he wants to marry her.
I like Beverly Jenkins books and Forbidden was no exception. Both main characters were sympathetic and likable. The interactions between white and black Republicans were quite fascinating. The rift between the races was already widening just a few years after the Civil War. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and recommend it for fans of historical romance.
As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.
Wow. What a conundrum the author has set up for Rhine. Not only is he already engaged (and to the daughter of a business associate), but he’d have to leave his “white” life if he’s to get together with Eddy. I’m curious to see all the small steps that get him from A to B. Thank you for reviewing!
I thought this was a really good book, with very real conflict.
I’m pleased to see a romance novel tackling big issues!
It happens, Sarah. This book has a very real and difficult conflict for the main characters to overcome.
What a difficult topic, but it sounds like a good way to present it.
I agree, Jen.
An interesting theme. It was a difficult relationship for both of them to pursue. – Margy