The first novel in USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins’s compelling new series follows a Northern woman south in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War . . .
Valinda Lacy’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.
As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.
This winning historical romance lays the groundwork for an exciting series. In post Civil War New Orleans, New Yorker Valinda Lacy strives to teach freedmen, but both her work and her safety are imperiled by the racial hostility still plaguing the nation. When business owner Drake LeVeq saves Valinda from racist attackers, he's immediately taken by the spunky beauty. Both were born free, and they make it their life's mission to assist ex-slaves. Valinda, whose fianc is in France on business, is only in New Orleans temporarily, but the chemistry between her and the hunky Drake is as hot as the spicy foods they share. When Valinda's attackers come looking for revenge, Drake keeps her under his protection, and when she's evicted, Drake's mother takes her in, making it even harder for them to keep their distance. Finally Valinda breaks her engagement to stay in New Orleans, and then she has to deal with her overbearing father, who believes women have no business being on their own. Meanwhile, Drake gets involved in taking dangerous vengeance for the death of a friend. Jenkins (the Blessings series) addresses sensitive, serious issues in a tactful, realistic manner, and she brilliantly balances the real sorrows of history with a shimmering romance. This is a grand tale of finding happiness in hard times.