Author Changes the Face of Romance Novels

January 3, 2012  |  

Not many women cop to liking cheesy romance novels and it can be hard to find a good one with black characters that doesn’t involve raunchy details of how a former drug dealer or entertainer smacked it up, flipped it, and rubbed it down. But sometimes you just want to read a love story about a black knight and shining armor rescuing a woman who isn’t blond haired and blue eyed.

That’s where Beverly Jenkins comes on the scene. She’s hardly new to the writing world, with 30 novels under her belt, but people are just beginning to fully recognize the gap she’s filling with her historical fiction novels.

Her latest novel, Night Hawk, tells the love story of Ian Vance, a minor character from two of her earlier novels, and Maggie Freeman, a female lead of mixed African American and Kaw ancestry.

“I got a bit of push back because publishers didn’t seem to know what to make of my story,” Jenkins told USA Today. “It was based on the 19th-century, all-black townships of Kansas and it featured a Buffalo soldier and an Oberlin-educated schoolteacher. I think part of the problem was that when we Americans think 19th century, we think slavery, and this well-researched book featured a town of free people.”

In that way, Jenkins’ novels serve a dual purpose of giving African Americans a glimpse into parts of our history that are often overlooked, and allowing women to get caught up in the idea of old-time romance and love.Vivid is another of Jenkins’ novels and it highlights the history of 19th-century African-American female physicians, while Indigo, tells a love story between two characters leading up to the Civil War.

Despite initially receiving what she says were “enough rejections to paper my kitchen,” Jenkins seems to have found her niche.

Are you familiar with any of Beverly Jenkins’ books? Are you a fan of romance novels?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

More on Madame Noire!

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Miya17

    Excuse my ignorance before. I thought Beverly Jenkins was the woman who wrote all those novels with Fabio on the cover. Although I don’t read romance novels, I like that she’s doing something different and inspiring for the black community with her novels. So I’ll support her and buy her book for my cousin, who loves romance novels. There should be more African American female writers who don’t write about smut and sex. I hope to see you produce 100s more novels Mrs. Jenkins.

  • Miya17

    Seems pretty accurate to American History to me! Sweet! But I doubt I’ll read it since I hate romance novels since they’re always cheesy to me, but I like that she’s doing something new!

  •  I didnt know about Ms, Jenkins until this article,and  I got to say thanks, cause I went to her web site and I read all the excerpts of her books and I want all of them!!!!.Im not lying, I went  to read  “Night Hawk” like 4 times today,yes its that good.
    I hope you ‘all understand me cause Im from Puerto Rico, and my english its not that good,although I understand everything.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Rebecca, your English is fine, so don’t worry. I hope you’ll enjoy my books.

  • jlwmcfarland

    Ms. B, is the BOMB! I was turned onto her in 2000. I was complaining to a co-worker about being tired of reading about blond haired, blue-eyed, perky nose women. She let me borrow her copy of Vivid. I’ve been in love every since. I even paid to have Indigo reprint, because I had to have it. I’ve turned so many people onto Ms. B, including my mother and bestfriend. I will continue to do so. Ms. B. Rocks! I have every book in paperback and hard cover (if it was printed) and now I’m downloading on my Nook. Can’t wait for “A Wish and A Prayer”. Keep’um comin’! For gp, my favorites are Indigo, Vivid, and Through the Storm, but love them all.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thanks JL. Appreciate your kind words, and your support!

  • C.Charnell

    I absolutely love all of Mrs. Jenkins’ books. It’s refreshing to have such a positive voice within the African American literary community. The stories are always well written and researched, but mostly they always have a strong female (black) character that is celebrated for her strength and not condemned for same.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thank you!!!

  • Lisarb612

    I am a Big Time Beverly Jenkins fan as well! Love!  Love! Love! her historical novels. I’m So happy that I don’t have to superimpose anymore! The historical facts as well as the romance seals the deal in each novel. I also find myself picking up a well read BJ historical novel to re-read, and it’s like reading it for the first time again! All the emotion, suspence and intrigue is right back at the surface how can you beat that?!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thank you!!!

  • Moniquebailey11

    One of my favorites by Ms. Jenkins is Wild Sweet Love omg I love that book and Jewel as well. I hope she never stops writing historical romance novels. She gives me home hope in a sea full of urban novels that simply annoy me 🙂 Keep up the amazing work 

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thannks so much. Come join the BJ Nation on FB if you aren’t already a member of the crew.

  • Great stuff!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thanks AJ!

  • Tyla Ordillano

    I am a huge fan of historical fiction; especially the ones that portray our people. To hear that there is positive work out there is not only encouraging but its inspiring for a young writer like myself. I loved Wench but it was heavy. I have never heard of Beverly Jenkins’ work prior to now, but I’m placing my order for Night Hawk right now. And how sweet of her to reply to each individual’s comments!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Tyla. I’d Better answer. LOL. My readers mean the world to me. Without them – I’m nothing. Hope to count you as a member of the BJ Nation, soon.

  • Candacey Doris

    I’ve never read Ms. Jenkins books. I wish i had known about them earlier today because i waled through the AA section and left empty handed. I couldn’t stand the idea of another book about a woman dating a  drug dealer, rapper, etc. I’ll check her out next time.

    • Ladytoy78

      Hi Candacey, might I suggest you start with
      Vivid or Indigo they are just two of my personal favs. Beverly Jenkins is an
      awesome writer! Her books are so easy to read, and it’s nice to learn about
      African American history as well as enjoying a good old love story. It is nice to see my fav writer of all time
      being acknowledged by my fav website ;0)

      It is nice to see my fav writer of all time
      being acknowledged by my fav website ;0)

      • Beverly Jenkins

        Lady. THANKS!!! And yes, Vivid and Indigo are great places to start, especially now that they are electronically available. She won’t have to pay those astronomical prices that have prevailed since the paper editions went out of print.  Thanks for the support.

    • Sma410

      Hi Candy, you’ve been missing out big time! I love Ms. Jenkins books but another supreme author to read is Ms. J. California Cooper, I looooovvvvvveeee her to death, Ms. Cooper is now up in age and I suspect she may be finish writing. These two African-American women writers should be praised for their work, and the quality of their work. While I enjoy reading a book every now and then about street thug life, I too am tired of so called authors who write nothing but negative stories about black people, yes many are living that type of lifestyle but life has so much more to offer than a street mentality, dont you agree?

      • Beverly Jenkins

        Thanks for the kudos, sis. To be mentioned in the same post as J, California Cooper is humbling.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Canadcey, And you won’t be sorry. Thx for the post.

  • Sabrina

    I’ve read all of Ms. Jenkins’ books and some of them more than once. Before I’d been introduced to her work, the word “historical” had a way of making my eyes glaze over and my brain shut down – sort of like when I was in middle school… Now, I’m ALWAYS looking for ANYTHING that she’s written! All of  her books are good –  Ms. Jenkins is an AWESOME author and consistent -when I read one of her historicals, I know I’m always going to get an engaging  story and learn something about our history that I didn’t know.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Sabrina. You’re awesone as well. Thx!

  • Sheena

    OMG!!!!! I am so happy that an African American female author is being recognized for quality work!! I am a HUGE Beverly Jenkins fan and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Why thank you, Sheena.

  • MixedUpInVegas

    OK, I’m going straight to Amazon from here to get a couple of her novels.  I’m a hugh fan of historical fiction, usually reading Phillipa Gregory, Jean Plaidy, Colleen McCullough or Gore Vidal, among others.  This author’s work sounds like just my taste.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thanking you in advance for the support and being open enough to take a chance.  Go with Night Hawk or Topaz is a good place to start as well.  Happy reading.

  • Charelee

    Ms. Bev is an awesome writer – I have been a fan since Night Song and have read everyone of her books – as the sister said earlier you get Black History with great romance. If you have not read her books you are missing great reads.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thanks sis!

  • Mrs. Bev is the truth!  If you are at all interested in amazing heroines, awe inspiring heroes and enough history to make you say, hmmm I didn’t know that, so let me look that up, them look no further than Beverly Jenkins!  I have been reading her books since 1998, and I wait eagerly for the next to drop.  She is an amazing writer, but more so, a beautiful spirit.  Bravo!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Wow. Thanks Andrea.

  • AJB

    Been a fan since NIGHT SONG!  Ms. Jenkins novels are entertaining and educational and the romances are always believable.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thanks AJB

  • Sma410

    I truly enjoy Beverly Jenkins historical books, but also enjoy her current books, such as The Blessings Series i look forward to her upcoming fourth book!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thank you!

  • Juane705

    I have followed Beverly since she wrote Night Song. In fact, I have it in a plastic bag now to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. I also love her contemporary novels especially when she talks about the descendants of her historical novels. I’m waiting on the next Blessings novel and I would definitely enjoy reading another of her high tech vigilante contemporary books.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Juane. Appreciate your kind words.

  • suebhoney

    I am a Big Fan of Ms. Jenkins, and I have all of her novels.  You learn the things you were not taught in American History class in her books, Her Romantic Suspense Novels are just as great as her Historicals and her Contemporary Womens Fiction is awesome too.  Once you get a taste of her books…youre hooked.

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thanks SueB

  • Lesliewright71020

    I absolutely love Beverly Jenkins and make it a point to read all of her work. She’s awesome!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Leslie – thanks so much

  • Better4you

    Truth be told, I didn’t know about Beverly Jenkins books until last week. I love my historical romances set in Scotland but I was looking for different type of heroine. I didn’t even know there were African American historical romance novels. All the historical African American novels that I’ve read only make me cry.
    Keep ’em coming Ms Jenkins!

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Better4You. Much appreciated.

  • Beverly Jenkins

    Thanks for the great review and your thoughts on my work. Much appreciated.

  • I’m a HUGE fan of Beverly Jenkins.  Her novels are always fascinating and well-written, and she doesn’t rely on sex alone to tell a good story. I’m very picky about romance novels as a rule, but hers are always great.  They’re a dream for a history buff like me. 

    • Beverly Jenkins

      AJ. Thanks for your kind words.

  • Pam

    I have ALL of her novels!!  My sister put me on to Mrs. Jenkins years ago.  She gives you heat and history!  I just love her work!!!

    You can tell I’m excited, huh?

    • Beverly Jenkins

      Thank you, Pam!