"Night Hawk" Author: Beverly Jenkins
No Talking During Foreplay by Nakeesha J. Seneb
Recently, I've begun reading a lot of historical romance novels. And like most people of color, I craved a story that didn't gush over lily white skin and blonde ringlets. So, I was super excited to come across the works of Beverly Jenkins, an African-American novelist who writes historical romance about black folks just on the other side of slavery. After reading some reviews on Amazon, it appeared that "Night Hawk" was the hands down favorite. So I bought it and got cozy.
"Night Hawk" is the story of lawyer, turned criminal, turned bounty hunter, appointed US Marshall, who likes to quote scripture, Ian Vance. The story takes place after Ian returns from his birthplace of Scotland to pay respects to his dead mother. On the train ride home, he encounters a bound Maggie Freeman who's been accused of murder. Through a series of events, Maggie is left in Ian's custody by another lawman with directions to transport her to another town which happens to be on Ian's way home. More events happen that bring them closer together and before you know it, they've fallen in love.
I really liked the romance portion of the story. If only it were just a romance, but it was more than that. It was a month of history lessons inside an epic novel. The history lessons were as annoying as they were intriguing. The reader was introduced to a number of black historical figures and events. And as a black woman and an educator, I constantly feel the need to educate in everything I create. However its such a fine balance and the story can easily be compromised. Each time Jenkins inserted these fun facts into the novel, they interrupted the flow of the love story. It was a weird tug of war. I have no clue how this could have been made more palatable, and maybe I'm the only one who didn't appreciate it because the book gets tons of stars from everyone who reads it.
The first 50% of the novel is a historical romance with a time span of two weeks. In the second half, we watched the MCs settle into their domestic bliss with one last hurdle to overcome at the very, very end. The change in pace, scope, and motivation rankled me and I was not sure what to think anymore.
If I just rated the first 50% it'd be a 4-star because the romance was really lovely. The second half would be 2 stars with all the history lessons and pace changing. So, I settled on three.