This was so good! I loved it. The characters of Rhine and Eddy made my heart happy. Especially when you find out Rhine’s past. I loved how Jenkins took parts of the American history (post Civil War, mostly African American towns, etc.) and turned all of that into this book. I am so going to read more books by this author in the future. The only reason why I didn’t give this five stars is that it starts off slow. To the point that I was considering DNFing it since I was so tired. However, things pick up after Eddy gets to Virginia City. And then the info-dump regarding Eddy’s sister and her nieces I did not care for at all. I am assuming this comes up in the follow on books and I hope is better laid out than it was here.
“Forbidden” has Rhine Fontaine, a son of a slave that can pass as white moving out West to make his fortune. He ends up landing in Virginia City where he becomes quite wealthy and engaged to one of the town leader’s daughter. Enter Eddy Carmichael. Eddy has dreams of opening her own restaurant in California. She leaves her family behind in Colorado and travels west. Things are going her way until she’s left in the desert and almost dies before Rhine and his partner find her and take her back to their saloon to heal.
Eddy and Rhine both find themselves drawn to each other right away (insta-love which is usually a pet peeve with me but worked with how Jenkins handles it) Eddy isn’t stupid though and knows no good can come with her getting involved with a white man. And Rhine knows he can’t be with Eddy unless she would agree to be his mistress. Jenkins does a great job of developing these two and getting you to understand why they are so drawn to each other. And we get some love scenes that made my heart go happy pitty pat.
The secondary characters like Sylvie, Doc, Vera, and others were great. I felt like I was getting a real picture of an old West town with many people all living together.
There’s of course the question of what is Rhine going to do and what is Eddy going to do. Thrown in is also the issue of the Republican party turning more focused on “white issues” and their turning a blind eye to the KKK. If you want to know more about how the Republicans yes supported abolishing slavery and then danced towards being the modern face of white supremacy, follow Kevin Kruse on Twitter.
The book takes place post Civil War and my reading of the times and locations that Jenkins gets into reads to me as accurate. I am glad she didn’t have the African Americans in this book talking about the Democrats. She knew just as I do that African Americans were Republicans for the most part up until a certain point in time of our nation’s history (see JFK and Civil Rights).
The book though tries to do too much at the end and as I said above we have some throwaway lines regarding Eddy’s sister and her family that made me go wait what? I found out that Rhine appears in an earlier work of Jenkins, but I am glad she developed him in this one and didn’t expect new readers to know him.