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The Proposal by Brenda Jackson
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Jul 29, 2011

really liked it
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Brenda Jackson has written over 20 novels about the Westmorelands--the Atlanta, Washington, D. C, Colorado, and Montana Westmorelands--a prolific, generous, and hugely successful African-American family who have managed to make their mark on every community in which they have resided. This present story takes place in and around Denver, Colorado, featuring one of the cousins that is being highlighted in a series about this branch of the family. Jason is in his early 30's, a successful rancher who is running a horse training and breeding center with his cousins and brothers, and who is very happy with his life as it is. His property butts up against Harlan Bostwick who has recently died and whose property has now been willed to his granddaughter, Bella--a granddaughter who didn't even know he existed and who has lived under the thumb of her Savannah, Georgia parents for the entirety of her 25 years. Inheriting this property now gives Bella an unexpected opportunity to live on her own and carve out her future according to her own hopes and plans, rather than acquiesing to the marriage plans of her parents.

Their attraction begins quietly with a chance meeting at a community gathering and almost as soon as she is introduced to Jason, Bella's great-uncle is dragging her away and filling the air around her with his negative comments about the Westmorelands in general and Jason in particular. Their friendship grows as Jason visits Bella at her granddad's ranch with offers any good neighbor would make, but it is within that context that not only do they become better friends, but they find their attraction growing to rather sizeable proportions.

Bella's refusal to return to Savannah angers her controlling parents and thanks to their diligence and that of a bastion of attorneys on their payroll, they find a way to cut off her trust fund payments, hoping to squelch any plans she has to remain in Colorado. Thus, Jason make his proposal: marry him and thus free up her money, become co-owner of her ranch, and become the owner of her prize stallion--a horse only Jason can handle anyway. No matter how Bella thinks it through, it appears that is the only solution if she wants to maintain her independence from her parents. One further problem: she is falling in love with Jason fully aware that he has put a 12 month limitation on their marriage. Not only that, but she thinks she has become pregnant.

Now this is not a unique plot nor is it an unusual twist in a romantic novel. What shine through here are the personalities of the characters--Bella's independent nature, her refinement and manners, her open acceptance of the Westmoreland family members as neighbors and soon-to-be friends, her willingness to be a friend as well as receive them, and the cohesion of this enormous family with all its ups and downs, its steady family men and the I-don't-even-want-to-think-about-getting-married brothers and cousins, the women who are willing to speak up and out, and the evident affection and loyalty that binds them all together. It is a deep sense of goodness about all these people--individuals we would all be proud to call friends--that is characteristic of Brenda Jackson stories about this family. Bella, an only child, shuttled here and there by parents who were more interested in their own lives than in her, is drawn to them like a moth to the flame, and this, as well as her financial woes, makes marrying Jason something she can feel OK about. That they light up the skies in the bedroom doesn't hurt, either.

I am a huge Brenda Jackson fan there hasn't been a single one of her novels that I haven't liked. That being said, there are some that I think stand out a bit more than this one does. This novel is a comfortable, heart-warming kind of story that has its share of tension and crisis, but in the long haul, it is about two people who ultimately manage to find their way forward, not only solving Bella's financial situation and securing her independence, but finding their way toward each other.

This is a really nice book, with an entertaining sense about it, and with the requisite happy ending. There are some surprises and twists, but they are not overwhelming and all in all, this is just a really engaging story that can fill a summer evening or engage the mind beside the pool. I know that I enjoyed it a lot and was pleased to be able to read it. Ms Jackson's writing expertise has a way of taking a really ordinary story and turning it into a piece of very entertaining romance fiction. And she has set the standard for many writers, not only in the African-American community, but throughout the romance fiction writers' world. There's lots to like here.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

This review was originally posted on Book Binge by Judith.
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