DESTINY'S EMBRACE - Beverly Jenkins
Rancho Destino, Yolo County, California -1885
Of Spanish descent, Alanza Yates has a large ranch left to her by her husband. Her parents, disappointed with her marrying Abraham Yates who worked with the American's to rip California from Mexico, were alienated from her, but after many years of poverty and hard work, inherited their land. Alanza has three unmarried sons. Her stepson Logan ranches his and her land. She embraces him as her own son. Her other sons are Andrew, a lawyer, and her youngest, Noah, a ship's captain. She wants grandsons, but first Logan needs her help—he needs a housekeeper.
In Philadelphia, Mariah Cooper has worked for her mother as an unpaid housekeeper at home and a seamstress in her mother's dress shop. Quiet and retiring, she has accepted her mother's physical and mental abuse all her life, but when her mother won't allow Mariah to make a wedding dress as a gift for her best (and only) friend, she has had enough. She quits. Her mother's estranged sister accepts her into her home, but when Mariah reads an advertisement for a housekeeper in California, she discards her old life and her old self and travels to California. She will never be anyone's victim again.
Logan, following his mother's dictum, picks his new housekeeper up at the train station. He is sure he can make her quit, probably before they even reach his admittedly disordered house. The bunkhouse burned down some time ago, and everything is now stored inside the house. His first surprise is the woman's beauty, but while open to dalliance, Logan isn't interested in marriage. His second surprise is her feisty nature and willingness to do hard labor.
DESTINY'S EMBRACE is an entertaining love story about two very strong willed people. At first it was jarring to accept Mariah's complete change in character from lamb to lioness, but it made sense because her very survival was at stake. Logan personifies the hard-working, independent cowboy unwilling to be shackled. With Alanza's subtle encouragement, Mariah finds her true value as a person and shows Logan his need for an equal partner in life. He can sometimes be somewhat of a blockhead, but an endearing one. This story also offers an historical glimpse into the African-American contribution to California as a state while not overwhelming the love story. With appealing characters, a fast-paced story, and astute and well-portrayed setting, readers will enjoy DESTINY'S EMBRACE.