Welcome to the latest stop on the Tasty Virtual Book tour for the third installment in Beverly Jenkin’s Destiny series, Destiny’s Captive. I have a review, excerpt, and a chance to win a print copy of this lovely romance. Read on, romance lovers!
I’m embarrassed to admit this is my first Beverly Jenkins novel, but most certainly won’t be my last. As a devourer of all things historical romance, I often lament the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in 19th century heroes and heroines. If, like me, you want add some diversity to your romance reading, one good place to start is with Beverly Jenkin’s extensive backlist, which specializes in 19th century African American life.
Jenkin’s latest release is the conclusion of her Destiny trilogy, Destiny’s Captive. In it we meet Noah, the youngest Yates brother, who is by all accounts a successful merchant trader and shipowner, but one with dark secrets from his time a young man impressed into service under a ruthless sea captain. Despite maintaining tight control over his life, Noah finds himself tied up–literally!–by Pilar, a beautiful Cuban freedom-fighter, gun-runner, and pirate who has just stolen his ship. In his search to exact revenge and regain his shop, Noah instead finds himself overwhelmingly attracted to this feisty rebel, leading to a marriage of convenience that will bring Pilar and Noah closer than they thought possible.
I’m not gonna lie: Destiny’s Captive was a bit of a slow starter for me. As the third book in a trilogy I hadn’t read, about the first fourth of the book was spent wrapping up loose ends from the previous books in the series (specifically, Noah’s mother, Alanza’s marriage) and introducing Noah and Pilar. I actually really enjoyed the extra time spent building Noah and Pilar’s histories. It’s something not a lot of authors take the time to do, but goes a long way towards character development and pays off as the romance builds. But again, as someone who was starting the series with this novel, I found the time spent with Alanza and Max as an impediment to the main H/h romance, rather than a complement.
Noah and Pilar were both fully-realized characters with wonderfully dark and intimate secrets, histories and lives. Despite their very different childhoods both are rooted in a deep love for and connection to family, which makes their attraction to one another quite believable. Beyond the physical desire they obviously feel for one another there’s the deeper pull of their strong personalities and remarkable capacity for love (which they’re not quite sure they even possess, but we, as readers, all know is there).
Pilar in particular in quite the spitfire. She tames horses, runs guns for Cuban rebels, fences with flair, and steals ships! In short, she’s a remarkable woman, one that I feel was ultimately short-changed by the narrative conclusion of this book. This intelligent, spirited woman finds love in a well-matched mate who treasures her unconventional nature, which is wonderful, but she’s left with virtually nothing to do. There’s no greater purpose for Pilar in this book beyond motherhood and charity work with Alanza, which seems a bit at odds with the character Jenkin’s first introduced. I had higher hopes for Pilar and thought she would have helped run the ranch or become Noah’s business trading partner. Instead I felt as though she was relegated to the sidelines when she could have been celebrated for being so adventurous. It was a very conventional happily-ever-after for a very unconventional heroine.
Despite my issues with the resolution of Pilar’s storyline, I found Destiny’s Captive very engaging. I loved the Spanish phrases interspersed in the dialogue, the descriptions of life in Cuba and Pilar’s deep-love-bordering-on-erotic-obsession of Cuban cuisine (I’m totally with you on the food-lust, Pilar). I also appreciated reading about two very different but completely functional and loving families. Knowing Noah and Pilar’s attachment to their mother and siblings somehow made their romance more believable to me, almost as if the capacity to love was genetic and inevitable. Despite his bouts of doom and gloom Noah was probably one of the least angsty “tortured heroes” I’ve read in a while, made all the more playful and teasing by his interaction with Pilar. They’re a fun couple to get to know, and if you love marriage of convenience stories, you should give Destiny’s Captive a read.
Rating: This is a solid B, bordering on a B+ for me.