This month’s TBR Challenge topic is a favorite trope. I choose to read Tempest by Beverly Jenkins. This is a mail-order-bride story, a romance trope that is indeed one of my favorites.
In this story, the intended bride, Regan, ends up accidentally shooting the groom, Colton before they even meet. Regan and Colt have corresponded by mail before Regan made the trip to Wyoming, and he is not so sure that the woman he ends up meeting is the right one for him and his 6-year-old daughter. He pictured her as being more like his ladylike, meek deceased wife. While she can be ladylike when she chooses, Regan is definitely not meek. She is an independent thinker, doer, and wears pants when she wants to – not really the image that Colt had formed from their correspondence. To Colt, finding someone to be a mother to his daughter is the most important thing, he is a busy doctor who often has to rely on others he would prefer not to for childcare and it was enjoyable to see the bond forming between the girl and Regan. Often book children don’t seem to resemble actually real-life children, but Anna does, and that is a reflection of good writing.
This book also has a lot of humor, but it also realistically shows some of what African-Americans had to deal with just trying to live a normal life at the time. There are some white people who cannot perceive that an African-American woman could have her own financial resources to do what she wants, and just seeing that and many other matter-of-fact ways that people of color are not treated the same as everyone else was part of made the book more interesting to me. It also touched briefly on some historical events as the Rock Springs Massacre involving Chinese immigrants, and the first African-American professor of medicine, Dr. Alexander T. Augusta. I read romance for escape, but I often like my escape to teach me something, and this Beverly Jenkins does without being obvious about it. It flows naturally with the story.
I do wish that Regan had more of a character arc. At the end of the book, she is basically the same person she was at the beginning, it just felt like more people recognized her for who she was and that any people who did not either died or left the community. She was definitely always someone who stayed true to herself, but it felt like all the change was on the side of Colton coming to recognize that Regan was wonderful and what he needed, even if she was not at all like his first wife. The lack of change on one side of the relationship felt very one-sided. I did, however, enjoy this book very much. It is a quick, satisfying read. It is the third book in the “Old West” series by Beverly Jenkins, but can be read as a standalone. I have not read the other books and did not feel like I missed anything.