May 28, 2019

Beverly Jenkins

Return to the House of LeVeq
Interview by

We talked to Beverly Jenkins about the joys of a slow-burn romance and returning to Reconstruction-era New Orleans in Rebel.

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A new novel from Beverly Jenkins is always cause for celebration, but romance fans were especially excited for Rebel, given that it’s both the kickoff to a new series and a return to some of Jenkins’ most beloved characters—the passionate and powerful LeVeqs. Descended from a famous privateer, the wealthy LeVeqs enjoy a high status in late 19th-century New Orleans. When sheltered schoolteacher Valinda loses her home and her classroom all in one day, the LeVeqs sweep her under their wing. And even though Valinda is already engaged, Drake LeVeq can’t help but make his feelings for her known. We talked to Jenkins about the joys of a slow-burn romance, returning to Reconstruction-era New Orleans and her favorite character on “Game of Thrones.”

What prompted your return to the LeVeq family and the Reconstruction era?
My return to the House of LeVeq was prompted by years of pleading from readers for more books featuring the family, and my curiosity to see how and what the characters were up to. I’m drawn to the Reconstruction era because it represents what America could be in terms of freedom and opportunity. After the end of Reconstruction in 1876, this time showed the resilience and strength of African Americans refusing to be stripped of their humanity in spite of the horror and degradation they faced.

This book is dedicated to “the real Valinda,” and I was wondering if you could tell us a bit more about her.
I’ve met some remarkable women on this 20-years-plus author journey, and Valinda is one. She’s now a retired academic who’s devoted her life to education and African America history. She’s also amassed one of the most expansive African American romance collections I’ve had the pleasure to see.

I’ve noticed that when a hero has a mistress at the beginning of a historical romance novel, some readers consider it a controversial plot point. Why did you decide to include Drake’s arrangement with his mistress Josephine in Rebel?
I think having a mistress after the hero and heroine commit is a more controversial plot point. Drake’s in New Orleans, where the plaçage system has existed basically since European men first set foot on its shores. Having a mistress was a common practice for wealthy men in most societies back then, and in today’s world as well.

Is the Council that Drake and several of his brothers are part of based on a specific historical group?
The Council formed by the LeVeq men is based on the groups of black Civil War veterans all over the South who banded together to protect their communities from supremacist violence. Many were called Loyal Leagues.

Is there a period of history you haven’t explored that you’d like to?
I’d like to do the 1920 gentlemen gangsters of Harlem and Detroit. I’ve yet to step out of the 18th and 19th centuries though because there’s still a large amount of little-known history to shed light on.

Rebel is a hugely effective slow burn of a romance. What appeals to you about writing that type of relationship?
I enjoy all the different levels of engagement. Whether it’s going to be a slow burn or an instant, raging forest fire depends on the story. My novel Destiny’s Surrender begins with a forest fire in the first sentence on the first page. Rebel is a slow burn due to Valinda’s commitment to her intended.

You’re a big “Game of Thrones” fan. Who is/was your favorite character on the show, and what is/was your favorite romantic relationship?
My favorite was Jon Snow, before he morphed into Jon You-Truly-Know-Nothing Snow. His relationship with Ygritte the Wilding hits all the romance beats, but her death denied them their HEA.

What’s next for you?
What’s next is finishing up book 10 in my Blessings series, which will be out in 2020, then on to the second book in the Women Who Dare series—once I figure out what it will be.

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By Beverly Jenkins
ISBN 9780062861689

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