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.

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