By Tqwana B.
3 out of 5 stars ★★★☆☆
Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he’s always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the façade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.
Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won’t risk her heart for him. As soon as she’s saved enough money from her cooking, she’ll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden . . .
It’s really hard to review a book that isn’t coming out for another few months. Many things could happen in the editing process that change it. So, this review is based solely on the ARC I read.
For a book of close to 400 pages, most of the plot and tension in Beverly Jenkins’s Forbidden occurs within the last 100 pages. There’s great story happening with our hero Rhine on one end dealing with the ramifications of passing. And great story happening with our heroine Eddy on the other, learning that life isn’t always so difficult. But, definitely not enough of Rhine and Eddy together with the exception of a few flirtatious encounters here and there. There were also great opportunities to set up Rhine and Zeke as rivals for Eddy’s affections that didn’t totally pan out.
Eddy traveling seemed to take up a lot of page time. The sequence that really matters is the encounter with the fake priest, Nash, with sets up Eddy meeting Rhine and ending up in Virginia city. Though as always, Ms. Jenkins provides readers with a vivid picture of Black history that few in the mainstream ever hear about.
For a romance writer who’s never shied away from sex scenes before, it’s surprising that we’re told about the wedding night that both Rhine and Eddy had been so looking forward to rather than shown it. It wouldn’t have been a problem if it weren’t so woven into their playful banter.