Breathless, by Beverly Jenkins

loverofromance's review against another edition

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This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance

Breathless is the second book in the trilogy and I have been looking forward to this one ever since I picked up book one. I finally got my hands on it, and I will admit I had some pretty high expectations for this book, and I was left feeling a bit disappointed. It wasn't what I was expecting, especially when I loved Forbidden, the first book.

Breathless is a story that features two people who knew each other when they were younger but life got in the way and they each had their own journey to take until they met each other again as full-fledged adults, much more mature and ready for what was to come for them. Portia Carmichael was abandoned by her mother who prositituted herself for money. She and her sister found a good life with their aunt and uncle. Kent Randolph has spent his life searching, and being a bit of a rake of the wild west. Now he has returned to the one place he felt like was his home and to his "duchess". Portia is very serious about building her own business and working for her aunt and uncle. She has no interest in love or dating. She is content working with her numbers. But then Kent comes back, and she is having to face with her old feelings for this handsome man that she wants to feel nothing for but does.

I did enjoy the beginning of the story, seeing these two banter like two old hens, their interactions were pretty funny and I just couldn't get enough. We see the good life that Portia and Regan (her sister) have found with their uncle and aunt Eddy and Rhine (couple from first book). We see the closeness that Portia has with her sister. But wow these two couldn't be more different from each other. Portia is consumed by the seriousness of life, and Regan just wants to live life to its fullest. She wants to experience everything, most especially passion and love. So it was interesting to see Portia figure out what she really wants in life, and that there is more to life than just building a career. Seeing some true depths of self discovery, and learning to experience desire and the building of a intimate relationship was the highligh of the story for me. However I did have some issues. Quite honestly, I think I might have had too high expectations for this book. I don't think I have been so let down by a book by Jenkins. I have always enjoyed her work. ALWAYS.  I know I am not in the "popular" opinion here however the middle of the plot felt flat for me. I had a hard time connecting with the actual romance. It took almost a whole week for me to read this. Now for some that may not seem like a long time, but I read a book a day. So I really struggled with this story. The first and latter portions of the story were really great, but the middle I took forever getting through.

I am however super excited to read book three though, Regan's story which features her being a mail order bride (yep yep super super stoked for this one, since that is one of my all time favorite tropes in romance).


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melodicfate's review against another edition

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After reading Forbidden last year, I was wondering what happened to Eddy's nieces. I'm really glad that Beverly Jenkins wrote this book about Portia, and the next book in the series will be about her sister Regan. I loved Portia in here. She was fiercely intelligent, spoke her mind, and was a bit too serious for her own good. She was a bit too guarded, but considering the life she and Regan had with their mother, I understood. Luckily, Portia had the playful but strong Kent to balance her out. I thought they made a very equal and likable couple. Kent loved and respected Portia for her mind, and Portia loved how he was kind but had a teasing side. Plus, in this story, there were discussions of women's right to vote and how black women even had to fight with the white women to be included in that. I liked all the information about the Apaches, too. The setting was very well-done, I always forget how much I enjoy Western historicals. The familial elements in here were fantastic. Seeing Eddy and Rhine again, and all the stuff about Kent and his dad was very emotional. With the way things in this book went for Regan, I'm very eager for her book. There were some writing mistakes I caught that brought the story down, like one minor character's last name changing once from Gordon to Green, but still. This book was really good, and I highly recommend it, along with other Beverly Jenkins stories. She always touches on fascinating history and brings strong characters to life in her stories.

whiskeyinthejar's review against another edition

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3.3 stars

The heat now glittering in his eyes touched her like a hand. “You are going to be in so much trouble, Miss Bookkeeper.”

I was really enjoying this one, more so than the first one because I thought the hero and heroine had better back and forth (I still had moments where I thought the dialogue was a bit stop and go), but the last 40% or so was pretty full of dropped in and random threads.
There was some awesome shout-outs to historical women figures and Jenkins does a great job of setting the scene, made you feel the West. There's not a lot of angst between our couple but I enjoyed their chemistry, not scorching but playful.
I just don't understand how the last half ending wasn't cleaned up more, it left you feeling as if alternate endings were dropped in together and messily meshed together.
Going to read the third because Regan was a character that grabbed my attention and Jenkins gives good historical feel and context (There's a tiny Geronimo and Lozen guest appearance here!).

bookswithgab's review against another edition

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I really liked this book it was really nice to see Portia as a grown woman. Her romance with Kent was spicy they were so cute together. I really loved getting to see Portia let her walls down and let Kent care for her. And I loved the glimpses of Rhine and Eddy that we got to see I’m glad they’re still going strong.

buuboobaby's review against another edition

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Breathless starts with a bang. Portia is awakened in the middle of the night by her aunt, and urged to quickly dress. A lynch mob is after her uncle, who has been pretending to be white. As they flee, Portia watches a group of angry men torch their home. She is terrified that they won’t be able to escape, that the men will hang her uncle Rhine. This scene is fast-paced and really grabbed my attention.

Fast forward 15 years. The family has resettled in Arizona Territory, and they own a successful hotel. Rhine is a prudent businessman, and they have all prospered. Portia works as the hotel’s bookkeeper, and she is content with her life. She will never marry, and she bears the emotional scars of being abandoned by her mother. Both she and her younger sister were packed up and shipped off to their Aunt Eddy, and they haven’t heard from their mother since. Corinne was a whore, and the girls’ early years were filled with neglect and hardship. Corinne’s customers were abusive and Portia feared for her safety. After moving in with Rhine and Eddy, she was withdrawn and fearful of men, but as time passed, she realized both she and her sister were safe, and her aunt and uncle gave them both love and encouragement to become strong, independent women.

When Kent rides back into her life, her equilibrium is unbalanced. He challenges her decision to steer clear of men, and makes her re-evaluate her life goals. Will she really be content working for her uncle and staying unattached for the rest of her life. She sees the love that is freely displayed between her aunt and uncle, but doubts that a love like that is possible for her.

The pacing sometimes drove me nuts. There were times when the action on-page dragged, but then when it picked up, it PICKED UP. Thankfully the lulls were regularly broken up, keeping me turning the pages. Both Kent and Portia are complex characters, and the historical details were worked seamlessly into the story. Portia and her circle are fighting for the right to vote, and most of the women at strong, politically active, and not afraid to speak their minds. I liked that.

Kent is at odds with his father. After ditching medical school to be a cowboy, he and his father barely communicate. I really enjoyed this subplot. Both Kent and his father mature, and learn to put their differences aside. Family is more important than these small disagreements, and they both learn to let go of the past.

The romance between Portia and Kent was a mixed bag for me. I didn’t feel that there was much chemistry, but I did like how their relationship slowly developed. After some initial fireworks, I thought their courtship was flat, and I’m not sure why. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it didn’t knock my socks off. It felt long at times, with intense bursts of action that helped to make up for the lulls.

Grade: 3.75 stars

andipants's review against another edition

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I liked this one better than the first in the series. There were fewer plotlines, so it felt more focused, and the secondary characters felt more believable, and less like cardboard cutouts in an idyllic fantasyland. I particularly liked Kent and Portia and their relationship; they felt like realistic, reasonable people, and their relationship felt believable and mature, with no contrived conflict or petty nonsense thrown in just to create tension. The conflict in the story was mostly external, which was fine with me. I also liked the family relationships portrayed here, especially the one between Portia and Regan (and I'm definitely looking forward to Regan's story!).

There were still some definite faults, mostly plot-related. The fate of the guy who killed the ranch hands was decidedly anticlimactic, and the part at the end where
SpoilerPortia gets kidnapped
came out of the blue and then was resolved in a snap; it should have been expanded enough to create actual tension or cut entirely. There were also some definite trappings of the Wallpaper Historical here (was mandatory marriage counseling really a thing in the Old West? Really?), although the text was sprinkled through with references to actual historical events and social movements, which I definitely appreciated.

Overall, despite the flaws, I found this one a solid entry, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

hollish's review against another edition

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The only cowboy books I really love (so far) are Beverly Jenkins books.

lraven13's review against another edition

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A light fun read

Though my quibble is how long it takes for angst. By the time the thing that would separate them happens the book is almost over so it ends fast. That was disappointing.

bookwyrm_lark's review against another edition

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4.5 stars

Beverly Jenkins returns to the Fontaine family in Breathless, the second novel in her Old West series. It’s 15 years since the events in Forbidden, after which the family had to flee to Arizona to avoid an angry mob. Eddy’s nieces are now adults, and help run the family’s Arizona guest ranch. Portia, the elder sister, is smart, talented, and not particularly interested in falling in love; she’s focused on managing and doing the bookkeeping for the hotel. But when Rhine’s old bartender, Kent Randolph, rides in, she discovers she’s more susceptible to his flirting—and his kisses— than she could have imagined. For his part, Kent is quickly smitten with the adult Portia, and more than ready to settle down… though Portia will take some convincing! I loved these two together. If you’ve seen the movie Hidden Figures, Portia and Kent's relationship reminded me a bit of Katherine Goble and Col. Johnson: she’s intelligent, a little wary, not about to jump into anything; and he’s honorable, determined, confident of the attraction between them, and experienced enough to take his time persuading her.

But the sparks and banter of their courtship aren’t the only things stirring in the territory. Trouble strikes at a neighbor’s ranch, and with Geronimo and his Apache band on the loose somewhere nearby, the sheriff can’t spare the men to track down the villains. Jenkins strikes a nice balance between Portia and Kent’s developing relationship, the dangers of frontier life, and the daily life of the hotel and nearby community.

I love reading Beverly Jenkins’ historical romances. Not only are they wonderful romances in their own right, they also offer a view of American history that is sadly lacking in history books and the majority of historical romances alike: namely, the African-American experience. My childhood textbooks and my daughter's discussed slavery, emancipation, and Reconstruction, but they didn’t have much to say about African Americans after the Civil War or outside the South, until the Civil Rights era. I knew from bits and pieces I picked up elsewhere that that was far from the whole story, and that African Americans are an integral part of the history of westward expansion and indeed of the whole of American history, from before the Revolution on. But bits and pieces were all I had.

Beverly Jenkins brings that history alive for me with wonderful characters, compelling stories, and vivid settings. I’m definitely a history buff, and I’m deeply appreciative of the chance to see the world through experiences I will never know personally, but ultimately it’s the characters and the stories that keep me coming back—those and the wonderful moments when I can connect a historical fact or event in the book to something I know or have read. The best of those moments for me, in this book, was discovering that both Portia and her sister attended Oberlin College: the first college to admit both women and African Americans, and my own alma mater. And I loved the glimpses of the women’s suffrage movement, which Eddy and the girls are both involved with.

I’m already looking forward to Regan’s story (the other sister), which I hope will come next—and it can’t come soon enough! Regan has a will of her own, and the set-up in this book has me wondering what’s in store for her.

Review originally published at The Bookwyrm's Hoard.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.

_rhea's review against another edition

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emotional funny lighthearted slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes