Avon. (Women Who Dare). Jun. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9780062861689. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062861696. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Teaching recently emancipated children and adults to read and write in the still-seething South is not for the faint of heart, but for New York–born freedwoman Valinda Lacy, it’s a dream come true. Aside from the stifling heat, New Orleans is a flavor-laden, sensory paradise, and working with her students is pure joy. She is also out from under the thumb of her controlling, self-serving father. But not everyone is happy with the way the war ended, and when Val is threatened by bullies and her classroom vandalized, she fights for her life, just as Capt. Drake LeVeq rides up and lays down shots at the feet of her attackers. Part of an old powerful New Orleans family and a volunteer for the Freedmen’s Bureau, Drake has no patience for the current unrest and the supremacists’ threats, and coming to the aid of someone who needs help is just what he would do. Still, the fiery, outspoken woman he rescued fascinates him, and although she’s currently promised to another, he’s not about to give up so easily. A rebellious, independent heroine and a bold hero with pirate roots find each other despite major obstacles in a sensual romance graced with an appealing cast and remarkable historical detail.
VERDICT Post–Civil War New Orleans comes to violent life in the hands of a veteran writer and delivers a vibrant, instructive, totally romantic historical tale that will resonate with many readers today. Beautifully done. Jenkins (Second Time Sweeter) lives in southeastern Michigan.

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