K.J. Charles's Reviews > Rebel

Rebel by Beverly Jenkins
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bookshelves: american, historical, m-f

Oh good grief this was just perfect. I loved this book.

It's set in the 1860s, Reconstruction, as people are putting New Orleans back together after the Civil War and trying to cope with the massive change in society caused by the freeing of the enslaved. The book doesn't shy away from the difficulties of this--so many people desperately seeking loved ones who were sold away, or trying to survive in a ravaged economy with a wildly incompetent government failing to help, and the poisonous hydra of white supremacy and violence. The ongoing cycle of anger and violence and prejudice is very clear, as is the sickness at America's heart that is yet to be healed.

It's a brutal setting, and the book makes the extremely wise decision to counter it with one of the kindest romances I've ever read. Val is a teacher, trying to help newly freed people learn to read and educate children, Drake is a builder. Both people who try to make, not destroy, and that's no accident. Val is passionately committed to doing the right thing, fiercely determined and independent, but not to a fault because she's sensible. Drake is a big powerful man who is the absolute cinnamonest roll. He gives. He thinks. He cares. He wants, and does not act on that wanting when it's not his place to. He understands that he should put Val's needs and happiness before his own without having to be told. He takes rejection. *And* he's also a kickass hero when need be, as part of a deeply and profoundly kind heart with no toxic masculinity or fear of his own emotions.

This is a book where men talk about feelings, and women have a sisterhood, and friends of whatever race stand together. And--and!!!--I think for the first time but correct me if wrong, Ms Bev has written an on page gay couple too, who are low key lovely, with a deep friendship with one of the MCs. It's a quiet, almost casual recognition and acceptance of Black queer love and queerness in the past as well as now, and it's extremely good to see.

*And* a white supremacist gets fed to alligators, so this is actually the perfect book.
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Reading Progress

June 6, 2019 – Shelved
June 6, 2019 – Shelved as: american
June 6, 2019 – Shelved as: historical
June 6, 2019 – Shelved as: m-f
Started Reading
June 7, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Genevieve (new) - added it

Genevieve "*And* a white supremacist gets fed to alligators" - well I'm sold

message 2: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten I need this book immediately. Also, I want to read how a white supremacist gets fed to alligators. Sounds amazing

message 3: by Hebah (new) - added it

Hebah Ooh. And look it that, it was just sitting on the shelf at my library branch. *yoink*

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