Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vol 107

Topaz! I liked this.
(Will edit this entry tomorrow night after work. Or tomorrow before work since the bastard children like to be little hell-raisers and wake me up at insanely early hours of the morning. Besides, it's 3:30am. I should be sleep.)


Beverly Jenkins is an historical romance author.
It's not the romance that I like.
All that crap is the same.
And I'm seriously sick of females melting like candy bars (I'll come back to this later), and guys being oh-so perfect (I'll come back to this as well.)

Beverly's leads are black, at least the ones I read and assume all her leads might be black.
While I read Topaz, a story about a newspaperwoman who ends up being given away to a black Seminole to pay off her fathers debt (crazy ol man), I had to stop and google a lot.
And I mean a lot.
Beverly litters her stories with so many names, events, locations, and dates I wanted to know if they were facts or just fictional facts created for the story.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered what she wrote was real.

Now I'm of African and Native American decent, but I know pretty much nothing of Native American history, and the African American history I was force to suffer through during grade schooling was always about the same people: Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglas, etc, and so on and said forth.
To tell the truth, but time I got in 12th grade I absolutely hated African American history.
I was sick of learning about the same people over and over.
There's so much more that could have been taught, but it never was.

I learned more while reading Topaz than I did in school.
And I actually enjoyed reading it.
Now, I have a little knowledge about Black Indians and Indian Wars.
Even if it's just a little knowledge, it's more than what I learned before.
And they way Jenkin incorporates it, how she ties her characters to it -excellent.

After reading Topaz I read Always and Forever.
That was Blake's and Grace's story, two characters from Topaz.
Beverly gives a little pirate and ship-slave history in this book, as well as the worries and concerns that someone who isn't able to trace their roots would feel.

The heroines of the stories are always something that during the, 1884, would be considered absurd.
Katherine (Topaz) was a newspaperwoman. Back then it was still frowned upon for females to have jobs. No one wanted to hire a newspaperWOMAN, especially a black one. But Kate was intelligent and highly literate, familiar with more text than anyone else.
Grace (Always and Forever) was a banker. Yep, that's right. Good in math and had very strong backbone to take on any male.
She definitely was more than Blake expected her to be.
And Loreli, I have yet to read her story but she is in both Topaz and Always and Forever, was a gambler. A female gambler. Talk about no-no. She was so out of the norm that even some women turned their noses up at her.
And one thing about the women in this story, no matter the race, they pretty much always stuck together.
In their eyes, women as a whole were still belittled, not just woman of one race.

Anyway, as you can see, there is a lot to gain from these stories.
It's not your typical romance.
Not even your typical historical romance.
I read a few others but this author is the only author I've read who used real facts.
Hats off to you Madam.

Oh, I didn't forget about the candy bars and oh-so perfects. I'm saving that for a completely different post.