The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Looking for a new thriller to read, I found The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. This twisty mystery thriller is a suspenseful haunting read that will leave you wondering whodunit until the very end.

Lo Blacklock is a journalist who writes for a travel magazine. Her boss is out on maternity leave which means that an assignment of a lifetime is up for grabs. Lo is given the assignment: spend a week on a luxury cruise ship that only has a ten cabins. Sounds perfect, right? After all, the pictures of this exclusive cruise ship are spectacular and Lo could use a bit of a break. She hopes that she will be able to turn this assignment into a better paying position at the magazine and also that if she impresses her boss, she will be given more travel assignments in the future. Right before Lo is to leave, an event happens that shakes and puts her on edge. Instead of passing on this trip though, Lo decides to soldier on.

Once this luxury cruise begins, Lo thinks she may be in over her head. She’s not as polished as the others and the ship practically screams that it costs millions of dollars. The cabins are lush, the guests are important and elegant, and the sea couldn’t be better. It’s a beautiful cruise, but as they begin their voyage, the winds start whipping and it quickly gets cold. Lying in bed one night, Lo wakes up to someone screaming. She then hears a door open and a loud splashing. Rushing to the door, Lo sees what she believes to be a woman thrown overboard. Could this be true? Raising the alarm, she voices her concern to security only to be told that all passengers and crew are accounted for. The cruise continues on as normal. Lo can’t shake the feeling that something is incredibly wrong and she just can’t ignore the worry in her gut. What happened to the woman in cabin 10? Deciding to investigate with the help of a fellow journalist, Lo searches for the woman.

Each passenger has secrets to hide and the ship soon reveals that it is full of secrets as well. Others have to know what happened to the woman. This book was haunting and slightly terrifying as Lo manages twists and turns through this suffocatingly tiny, yet immensely beautiful, cruise ship. Readers will trudge right alongside Lo as she works to find out what happened to the woman in cabin 10. I was hooked all the way to the end.


This book is also available in the following formats:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The lives of classic movie actresses and actors have always piqued my interest. How they lived their lives, their scandalous affairs(if they actually had any), and what they did to become an icon are just a few of the things that I always want to know. Media coverage of both classic film stars and modern film stars seldom reveal the whole truth and as a result, fans usually have to wait until after the star’s death to learn the full truth, if that. Shelving a cart of new books one day, I stumbled upon The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The cover immediately captured my interest as the woman looked like she could have been a classic movie star. Reading the blurb proved that she was and I knew I needed to read this book.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the gripping tale of Evelyn Hugo, an adored movie icon. Evelyn’s story is heart-wrenching and pure psychological romance fiction as readers are drawn into Evelyn’s stunningly glamorous world. With her popularity blossoming in the 1950s when she made her way to Los Angeles, Evelyn dominated the Hollywood scene in her relentless and ruthless rise to the top of the movie industry. Evelyn always knew what she wanted and was not afraid to use her body or the people around her to get it. Living in the public eye was a price she paid for being famous, but Evelyn still managed to keep secrets from the public and some of her closest friends that they never would have guessed.

After her decision to leave the Hollywood and show business in general in the late 80s, Evelyn became a recluse. She was never seen out, declined to sit down for interviews, and pictures of an aging Evelyn were almost non-existent. When she reaches out and contacts an unknown magazine reporter named Monique Grant to interview her, everyone in the journalism community is shocked. Why would Evelyn choose Monique to reveal her scandalous and glamorous life? What makes her so special? Why is Evelyn choosing to do this now? Monique has her own issues. She’s not exactly the number one journalist in the world, let alone her city or even her area of expertise. She’s not even 100% happy with where she is working as her career has stalled. Monique’s personal life is just as messy. Her husband left her just five weeks prior and Monique is still reeling.

Recognizing the Evelyn Hugo interview as the potential major career boost that she desperately needs, Monique decides she will do whatever it takes to make this a success and sits down with Evelyn. It becomes clear right off the bat that Evelyn has ulterior motives and it’s left to Monique to figure those out. Quickly Monique becomes wrapped up in the story of Evelyn’s life from her entrance to Los Angeles in the 1950s and the seven husbands she had before she retired in the late 80s. As Evelyn weaves her life’s story for Monique, she discovers that Evelyn’s ruthless ambition led her to some slightly questionable, but nevertheless sustaining, friendships and a major forbidden love that had the ability to potentially ruin Evelyn’s career. Evelyn’s professional and personal lives are forever linked together. As Monique formulates Evelyn’s story, she realizes Evelyn never does anything without having a reason. Monique begins worrying why Evelyn chose her to write her story and when Evelyn’s story finally reaches the present, Monique realizes that she and Evelyn are connected in a truly tragic and life-changing way.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought that I would. Multiple storylines were at play throughout the novel and I found myself thoroughly engrossed in each one. The vivid descriptions of Evelyn’s life as she navigated the rocky waters of fame and her personal life were so well depicted that I found myself believing for a bit that she was a real person. I wanted to learn even more about Evelyn Hugo and her seven husbands. She is fascinating. Highly recommended.

The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve

Have you ever looked at the cover of a book and knew that the story was going to hook you? That’s how I felt when I saw The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve. Swirling fire, a deep red cover, and a bold font all signaled to me that the content of this book was going to leave me wanting more. Shreve exceeded my expectations with this novel.

The Stars are Fire is a piece of historical domestic fiction that focuses around the Great Maine Fire of 1947. This real event is given a fictionalized twist as Shreve tells the story of Grace Holland’s attempts to survive and rebuild after her life falls into ruins around her. After a summer-long drought, fires began near Bar Harbor and started ravaging the coast of Maine. People were left wondering where to escape to and hoping that the closeness of the sea would spare them from the brunt of the fire.

Grace Holland lives with her husband Gene and their two small toddlers. Five months pregnant, Grace is left to protect her children on her own after Gene leaves her to go help fight the fires. Grace and her best friend, Rosie, race to the sea with their four children to try to survive the flames. Keeping their children alive is their only priority as Grace and Rosie watch in abject horror as their houses and the community that they have grown to love bursts into flames. Hunkered down in the sand by the ocean, Grace fights to keep her children alive, sacrificing her own body to do so.

In the morning, Grace finds herself and her children wonderfully alive, but their lives have irrevocably changed. They’re penniless, homeless, and without a father or husband. Gene never returned from fighting the fires and no one knows where he is. Facing an uncertain future, Grace is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers until she either finds Gene or her mother or gets a job to support herself. Grace has to make a new life for herself and her children, something that both frightens and excites her since her life with Gene was not the most loving or supportive. While she has suffered great losses, Grace is able to move forward, find new happiness, and discover all the things she was missing when she was living with Gene. Just when she is settled into a new normal, something out of the blue happens and Grace is forced to be braver than she ever was before.

I really enjoyed this book. It was the first Anita Shreve book that I read and the first book in a really long time that had me wishing it would have been longer. There were so many characters whose backstories I was yearning to know more of and the ending had me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen. This book is set up so well that Shreve could easily spin it into a series. Here’s to hoping she does!


This is also available in the following formats:

Deadline by Sandra Brown

I love romance books. They are the perfect stress-free read. When I’m feeling anxious or need a break, I tend to gravitate toward the romance section in the library for a new(to me) romance read. I can usually fly through a romance novel in a day or two and get back to my other reading. I needed a good romance read recently and decided to look for one online. I checked out a copy of Deadline by Sandra Brown a week ago through OverDrive. I had just finished another book, saw Deadline, thought the cover looked interesting AND saw it was available immediately for checkout, so I decided to give it a listen. I had never read anything from Sandra Brown before, so I was expecting a regular suspenseful fiction read. Boy, was I wrong.

Deadline by Sandra Brown is a fantastically crafted piece of romantic suspense fiction that deals with family secrets, post-traumatic stress disorder, presumed deaths, missing persons, domestic terrorists, and a massive hunt for the truth. Dawson Scott is a journalist who has traveled the world writing stories. He just returned from Afghanistan after spending almost a year in combat conditions. Dawson is trying to cope with battle fatigue, but finds alcohol and drugs to be his only solace. He’s haunted by what he witnessed overseas and simply trying to get through his life one hour at a time. After being told by his boss that he is to fly somewhere less than desirable to cover a story, Dawson receives a phone call from his source within the FBI that has the power to completely change his life.

Amelia Nolan is struggling to get over the death of her ex-husband, former Marine Jeremy Wesson. Jeremy disappeared and was later presumed to have been murdered after the mutilated body of his married girlfriend was found eaten by dogs. Jeremy’s DNA was found on scene and authorities have presumed him dead. The woman’s husband is on trial for his murder and Amelia has been called to testify. Tackling this case while raising two very young children as a single parent, Amelia is working hard to keep her life together. With her nanny in tow, Amelia and the boys spend time on the beach, their safe haven from the craziness around the trial.

Dawson’s source has called to say that the DNA found at the Wesson crime scene has found a match. Jeremy is actually the biological son of a pair of domestic terrorists who have been on the FBI’s most wanted list for over 40 years. Pleading with Dawson, his source convinces him to cover the trial of Jeremy’s presumed murderer to try to find out more information about Jeremy’s life. Walking into the courtroom, Dawson plans on staying for a few days, writing his story, and moving on. The minute he sets eyes on Amelia though, his plan goes out the window. In an effort to learn more about Jeremy, Dawson decides to get closer to Amelia and soon finds himself developing feelings for her. Dawson has to stay focused, figure out who Jeremy Wesson really is, and if he is still in contact with his domestic terrorist parents. Could he catch them? Just how much danger are Amelia and her boys in?

This book is definitely a thriller with a bit of romance. Brown has crafted a book that is very suspenseful, but has some definite steamy scenes. This book is well-crafted with a plot that is quite twisty and chockful of red herrings. I was engrossed through this book as Dawson and Amelia worked to find out the truth. Highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more Sandra Brown!


This book is available in the following formats:

Meet Maria Nhambu

Last fall I wrote about Maria Nhambu’s memoir, Africa’s Child. You can read my blog about it here. It tells the story of how she grew up as an orphaned, mixed-race child in Tanzania. The first book in the Dancing Soul Trilogy, Africa’s Child is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. It leaves you wondering where she went from there.

I am thrilled to share that the second book, called America’s Daughter, has been published. In it, Nhambu chronicles what it was like for her leaving Africa. She was eighteen years old with a newly-adoptive mother who was barely four years older than her. She found a vastly different culture in America and began building a new life in it.

Laugh and cry with her as she recalls the many differences between Tanzania and Minnesota. She reveres education as her key to escaping a life of poverty and oppression. It is no surprise that she chose a career as an educator (at one point, she taught a soon-to-be famous musician named Prince Rogers Nelson.) Nhambu has a love for music, especially African music. She went on to create a program called Aerobics With Soul. It incorporates African dance into a fitness workout.

Nhambu still spends summers in Minnesota, but lives in Delray Beach, Florida during the winter. Thanks to family ties she has to the Quad Cities, she will be visiting us at Eastern on Saturday, Sept 9 at 10:30am to share her story with us in person. Joining her will be her adoptive mother and sister. Refreshments and copies of her books will be available. If we are lucky, there will be dancing. 😉

Nhambu is a gifted storyteller whose candor has made me cry, then cheer for her. Come meet a fascinating woman whose indomitable spirit has proven that love truly does conquer all.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

When I was working on my ordering, I stumbled upon the name: B. A. Paris. For some reason, I thought she was a well established author already and decided to give her newest book a try. Later when I began listening to said book, I looked her up on Fantastic Fiction, one of my favorite author websites. Low and behold, Paris was not an established author! Her first book, Behind Closed Doors, had only been released in 2016. I’m glad that I decided to pick up her newest book, The Breakdown, on a whim and give it a listen. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.

The Breakdown is Paris’ second novel. In this thrilling piece of suspense fiction, Paris searches for the truth around a murder investigation. Cass is a school teacher on her way home from work, itching to begin her much needed summer break. A major storm has hit her area making her drive home more treacherous than it usually is. There’s a shortcut between her school and her house that she usually takes, much to her husband’s chagrin. Calling him before she leaves, her husband tells her not to take the shortcut because even on a clear weather day, that isolated wooded road is difficult to drive on. Taking a major road on the way home, Cass is almost run off the road and makes the split-second decision to take the short-cut home.

Almost home, Cass sees a stalled vehicle pulled over on the side of the road. She stops to help, but the weather picks up and Cass decides to leave and call the authorities when she gets home to alert them of the stalled vehicle. The next morning, the news reveals that the stranded driver had been brutally murdered the night before. Cass is immediately thrown into great turmoil. When she drove by, the driver was still alive and according to the timeline released by the authorities, was killed most likely right after Cass left for home. Did she see who did it? Was the murderer in the car? If Cass would have exited her car to help the driver, would the driver have been saved or would Cass have been murdered as well? Should she call the police and let them know she saw the driver? What should she do? These questions and so much more race through Cass’s mind all day and night. Her life becomes consumed by guilt and the nagging thought that she failed and could have saved the driver.

Add in the fact that Cass’s memories are starting to fade, Cass begins to immediately doubt herself.  Her mother suffered from dementia and Cass is worried that she has it as well. Cass’s worries about her health and her massive guilt over not stopping to help the stranded driver exacerbate her confusion. She starts to forget way more things than usual. Cass mixes up dates, forgets purchasing things, and becomes increasingly paranoid. Her worry over the driver ratchets up several notches when she starts receiving silent phone calls that she is convinced are from the murderer. Her husband and best friend are very supportive, however, and Cass finds herself relying on them more than usual to get through this turmoil. If only the two got along better, then Cass’s life would be even easier. Nevertheless, she knows that they will stick by her and support her as she works through her issues.

This book was riveting and had all the necessary crazy, psychological twists that I love in suspense thrillers. Each character is very well-developed and fits neatly into this intensely twisty, clever, and engrossing plot. I was definitely caught off guard when the twist happened, so much so that when I finished this book, I immediately put B.A. Paris’ other novel on hold!


This book is also available in the following formats:

Now Departing for: London

Fellow Fans of Books!

Don’t get your knickers in a twist – we’re heading to London this month! It’s going to be brilliant!

There is no lack of books set in London. In fact, there is a glut of books set in London. There should be no problem finding something of interest! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. In 1870s London, a prostitute known as Sugar sees a potential way out of the brothel she works for when she is taken in by William Rackham, the son of a wealthy businessman.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks. Adventure-seeking Bex goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall – and thus Bex who accidentally finds herself in love with the eventual heir to the British throne

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. In London covering the Blitz with Edward R. Murrow, Frankie Bard meets a Cape Cod doctor in a shelter and promises that she’ll deliver a letter for him when she finally returns to the United States.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. Bridget Jones takes readers on a tour of a hilarious year-in-the-life of a confused thirty-something singleton who would have all the answers if she could just lose seven pounds, stop smoking, and attain inner poise.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter’s efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.

And, of course, there are dozens of mystery authors to explore – Arthur Conan Doyle, PD James, Laurie King, Anne Perry, Jacqueline Winspear and Elizabeth George to name just a few. From historical fiction to modern satire, just about every literary taste can be met. Watch the displays at each Davenport library location for lots more suggestions.

I’m going to be reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave which takes place during the Battle of Britain in World War II, a book that’s been on my “to-read” list for a long time. What will you be reading?

100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know

The day I first became a homeowner, I felt like a queen.  Little did I know then I would also soon become its plumber. In addition: painter, arborist and electrician  (I installed a programmable thermostat and you can, too!)

I have much respect for professionals in these vocations, and value their expertise. That being said, there are times -often late at night or on the weekends- when a homeowner must take care of things as best they can in a pinch. These are the times you learn things on-the-go that you never knew you needed to know.

To help toward that end, the Library is offering a program called Adulting: Finding and Keeping a Home or Apartment. It will be at Fairmount at 6pm on Tuesday, Sept 12. Our aim is to help you learn some useful information about finding the right place to live for you, and what you’ll likely need to do to keep and maintain it.

We’ll be bringing in experts Melissa Wegener from RE/MAX, Chad Mansfield from IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, and Cody Eliff from the Davenport Civil Rights Commission to share some things you’ll need to know about the process of becoming queen or king of your own castle. We’ll also have lots of library materials on hand, like 100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know: How to Save Money, Solve Problems, and Improve Your Home.

This is a helpful book, which includes tips on how to:

  • Save on home insurance
  • understand your plumbing system and prevent burst pipes
  • be ready for blackouts
  • understand your heating system
  • prevent home fires
  • eliminate ants, mice, and other pests
  • and much more!

I now share the top 3 things that I learned the hard way after moving in to my castle.

Check it before you wreck it. Find out if you have a sump pit in the basement. A sump pit is a basin (read: hole in the floor) where excess water can go. It is a good thing to have, as it helps prevent flooding in the basement. The sump pit should be equipped with a sump pump to periodically get the water back out. This is done via a hose that goes outside. When outdoor temperatures go below freezing, ice can block the portion of the hose that is still outside. Water will sometimes still find its way into the pit, activating the pump, which is a persistent little thing because if it can’t get the water out the first time it will keep trying and trying until it wears itself out. My household burned through a nearly-new sump pump one winter because we didn’t think to check the hose for ice and remove it. We removed the hose and a powerful surge of water came out of the side of the house, forming a not-so-nice little trench in the yard. To solve this problem, I installed some patio pavers there and that took care of that. Every year I check them and backfill with paver sand. Now, we keep a close eye on the temperatures, taking care to replace the hose once it warms up, because it isn’t ideal to have the pump just spray the water directly out the side of the house.

Lube it before you lose it. Did you know you should spray the moving parts on your garage door with WD-40 or similar lubricant on a monthly basis? Neither did I – until I found myself having to replace a garage door before its natural life span. It had been making a loud noise for a while, but I had no idea what it was. I assumed it was just part of the aging process. (We all make strange noises as we get older, right?) Had I known to regularly check and lubricate my garage door’s moving parts I could have prevented the chain reaction that led to its early demise and saved myself a thousand dollars. Set up a monthly reminder to lube your garage door’s rollers, hinges, track, and spring. Also, check the spring for cracks or signs anywhere of stress. If it doesn’t sound right, get it checked out.

Going skiing? Keep the pipes from freezing! The winter of 2013/2014 was a record-breaker for low temperatures. There were warnings about leaving your water at a steady drip if you were going away for any extended period of time. The frost had reached so far underground (a very rare occurrence) that it was causing the water in many buried pipes to freeze. We didn’t get that memo until it was too late. We returned from a weekend away to find that we had no water to the house. The blockage was located about 75 feet from the house, somewhere between our house and the water main. This went on for nine and a half weeks. You read that right. I was pretty stinky by the end of that time. Just kidding – after about a week of schlepping buckets of water from the neighbor’s house, we temporarily moved in with local relatives, to whom we are forever grateful. In comparison to others in the community that ended up with burst pipes, we feel fortunate because we were spared the huge expense of getting the pipes replaced. All we had to do was wait it out. Throughout the wait, the number one question I remember being asked during that time was, “What are they doing about it?” I think people often assume there is always someone to blame for every problem, someone who should claim responsibility and fix it. In this case, the only “they” was us. Not the water company. Not the city. Just us. But thankfully, we live in a community of people who brought us fresh water and let us borrow their bathroom whenever we needed.

Other things that homeowners I know have learned the hard way:

Change your furnace filter. This is a disposable pleated object made from paper and polyester that you insert at the place on your furnace where the air comes in. Depending on your model, the cost can vary but you can likely get one for about $5. You should replace it four times a year because it can get very full of dust and, if you have pets, dander. If you never replace it with a fresh one, you could be recirculating all that gunk throughout the house. Putting a reminder on your calendar when the seasons change is a good idea. I write the date I installed each filter on the cardboard edge, so I know exactly how long it has been in use.

Check your dryer vent periodically to be sure it isn’t blocked. You should clean the lint screen with each load, but it still doesn’t catch everything. Lint can build up in the ducts leading to the outdoor vent, making your dryer less efficient and raising the risk of a house fire. There are cleaning tools made especially for this task, or you could use your vacuum. For more, read this article from Consumer Reports.

Trim the tree branches so they don’t hang over your gutters and block the flow with fallen leaves & debris. Clean gutters seasonally. If you can’t safely do so on your own, hire a professional. It is worth it because you may prevent costlier repairs in the long run. Blocked water could freeze in the downspouts, causing a split or water overflowing from the gutter could damage your home’s foundation and landscaping.

I’ll now leave you with my personal favorite homeowner tip: When you leave the house in summertime set the AC so it doesn’t run so often when you are gone. At least eighty degrees is a good place to start. In the winter, set it to turn the heat down (no lower than 55 degrees) when you are not home.  If you don’t already have one, you can install a programmable thermostat to automatically do this for you. But it is pretty simple to walk over to the thermostat and do it yourself, too. You just have to remember to do it. If you are wondering, “Doesn’t that just force the furnace or AC to work harder when it comes time to heat or cool the house back to the optimal temperature?” This article explains more about why it is more energy efficient to turn it down while you are gone, rather than leaving it on all day.

Are there any valuable tips about finding and keeping your own home that you have learned? If so, please share them with us!

 

Invisible by James Patterson

 

James Patterson has slowly wormed his way in as one of my favorite authors. Every time I pick up one of his books, I know I’m going to enjoy it. If he’s not writing a book by himself, Patterson teams up with other writers, thus making his books change slightly from person to person. I have yet to find one that hasn’t piqued my interest and as such I plan to keep reading books by James Patterson until I grow tired of him.

Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis was my latest listen. I had listened to another Patterson/Ellis book previously, so I pretty much knew I was going to enjoy it. Bonus part: the male narrator of this book(there are multiple narrators) is someone that has narrated other books that I have really enjoyed. His delivery really captures each character’s personality.

In Invisible, Emmy Dockery is on leave from the FBI. After her sister’s grisly death, Emmy finds that she can’t do her job as a research analyst for the FBI as effectively as she used to. On leave, her sister’s death consumes her. Emmy is obsessed with finding a link between hundreds of unsolved cases that she believes are connected. Having set up Google alerts for crimes similar to how her sister died, Emmy is inundated with newspaper clippings of events that all seem to be related. Waking up gasping in the middle of the night, Emmy’s recurring nightmares mimic how her sister died and leave her even more desirous to connect these unsolved cases. Calling in a favor from her ex-boyfriend, field agent Harrison “Books” Bookman, Emmy hopes that he will be able to help her finding the missing piece in this string of brutal kidnappings, rapes, and murders that all have a fire element. No one believes her that these unsolved cases could be connected, even when she lines up all the facts that she has gathered. It isn’t until Emmy finds a certain piece of evidence that Books perks up and begins to believe that what she is saying could possible be true. This story alternated between Emmy’s story and a mystery man’s story. Reading those alternate chapters back to back really ups the creepy, thrilling, suspenseful nature of this book.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Slayer of Words: Beverly Jenkins wins Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award

I can’t think of many people who deserve the Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award more than Beverly Jenkins. She has been writing romance novels since the 1990s, telling stories set in African American communities at different times in history (as well as some contemporary novels.) Her books  have strong heroes, even stronger heroines, and a lot of warm and humor to balance out the steamy scenes.

Whether you are a romance reader or not, Jenkins’s acceptance speech at the RITA Awards this July is a must watch. She traces the power reading has impacted her family as they moved from being illiterate former slaves in the 1870s, to her own decisions to work in a library and later to become a writer. (And the end of her speech is a doozy. I dare you to watch it without sniffling a little.)

(The video is of the entire ceremony, but it should start at 49:38, the beginning of the speech.

Jenkins’s books are rooted in historical research and communities of well-developed supporting characters. I recently read Forbidden, which draws inspiration from an archeological dig in Virginia City, Nevada,  and the details about an African American saloon that operated during the late 19th century.

Rhine, the hero, is a former slave who passes as white, and has gained wealth and the respect of the white community.  Eddy, the heroine, leaves Denver due to  increasing anti-black discrimination in Denver, and dreams of owning a restaurant in California. Eddy gets stranded in the dessert, Rhine rescues her, they  fall for each other, but they both know the relationship can’t go anywhere. What makes the book shine is the the side characters who (mostly) help Rhine and Eddy sort out their feelings about themselves and each other, as well as have their own stories.

The big draw to romance is the Happily Ever After, that despite many obstacles, people can find happiness and love. Jenkins shows that not only is happiness possible even when the couple faces inequality, but that a couple can’t find joy alone, and it’s through helping build strong communities that our dreams really come true.

Jenkins writes some contemporary novels as well, including Deadly Sexy (she’s working on turning that into a movie) You can find several of her print books at the different library branches, and we have a few more (including the Destiny series, which I need to finish) on Overdrive.