I am so glad that Beverly Jenkins is finally getting more of the popular attention that she deserves. Her name has come up a lot as people have talked about what Netflix or Shondaland should adapt next for a series. Jenkins has been writing sine 1994, and calls her writing “edutainment.” While white writers, publishers and readers were debating whether it was possible to give Black characters a happy ending in romance, Beverly Jenkins was writing those stories and showing her work with bibliographies for further reading.
In Wild Rain, Spring Lee runs across a loose horse and then a lost man as she makes her way back to her ranch during a snow storm. Garrett McCray has traveled from Washington DC to Wyoming to interview Colton Lee, Spring’s brother, about being a Black doctor on the frontier for his father’s Black owned newspaper in DC. Garrett is a competent man, but outside his area of comfort. He doesn’t understand Wyoming, or Spring, or the relaxation of gender roles and rules. But he likes and respects Spring and is quickly head over heels for her.
Spring starts off wanting to be left to her own devices. Men too often think they should have some say over what she does and she is not interested. She loves her ranch and her horses and she isn’t looking for a partner. The Easterner who asks too many questions makes her think about maybe having a man in her life.
Beverly Jenkins takes the scenes that another author would use as a Big Scene and subdues them, or skips them entirely, so that the big moments in the book are the quiet moments between Spring and Garrett. Antagonists get their due, but the important moments are the lovers together, in partnership. Wild Rain is lovely. It does dip into the layers and intersections of racism and misogyny, that never overshadows the characters falling in love and building lives.
I received and advance reader copy of Wild Rain from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.