Love blooms amid dangerous times in Beverly Jenkins’ latest historical romance, Rebel. Valinda Lacy leaves New York City for New Orleans to teach recently freed slaves to read. Val’s new city fascinates her, but she’s due back north soon to marry her fiancé. When threatened by a handful of men, she’s rescued by the handsome Drake LeVeq. The fortuitous encounter changes the course of her life just as her school is shut down and she’s evicted by her racist landlady. Drake is truly admirable—successful, courageous and unwilling to back down in the face of oppression—and the indomitable Val sees her situation as an opportunity to take charge and pursue love for the first time. Beyond the heated passion between the pair, Rebel stands out for its portrayal of the turbulent and violent atmosphere of Reconstruction-era New Orleans.
Romantic-comedy conventions come to life in Kerry Winfrey’s breezy debut, Waiting for Tom Hanks. Annie Cassidy awaits her Mr. Right, her Tom Hanks, an amalgamation of all rom-com movie heroes. With a freelance writing gig to make ends meet, she pens a screenplay while living with her uncle in Columbus, Ohio. When she gets a chance to assist a famous director filming a romantic comedy in her neighborhood, Annie wonders if all her dreams are about to come true. The movie’s male lead, Drew Danforth, is known for his prankster ways rather than Hanksian sincerity, but sparks fly, and Annie falls for him despite obstacles aplenty along the way. There are quirky sidekick characters and enough movie references to fill a weekend marathon in this sweet (love scenes are implied, not shown) and entertaining read.
Peril awaits accomplished healer and former battlefield surgeon Katherine Wright in A Rogue by Night. Katherine has been called upon to use her skills and help her family in their age-old trade: smuggling. Though she’s determined to build a law-abiding life for her father, her brother and herself, it will take one last dangerous mission to make that happen. Harland Hayward, physician and baron, knows what it’s like to make trade-offs in the name of helping others. His own bargain has bound him to a criminal, in a pact that now stands between him and the growing love he feels for strong, smart Katherine. With the pair’s very survival at stake, the action is made even more meaningful by Kelly Bowen’s multilayered, sympathetic characters.