Night Hawk an historical romance of substance

July 21, 2012 

Beverly JenkinsNight Hawk is so evocative of deep emotions it seems she’s elevated the historical romance to a high art enhancing our understanding of American life during the 19th Century. Through her effective didactic story telling she immerses the reader back to another time. While the African American heritage primarily flows from the Middle Passage there are other neglected streams Jenkins mines like a gold panning prospector. She offers up a tale threading rich historical nuggets reflecting dark times of struggle and racial strife. People of color much like the larger society immigrated to the American shores from foreign lands in search of freedom and fortune and therein thrived despite racially sanctioned legal limitations.

So goes the story of Ian Vance Bigelow, a Scotsman and son of a Black man, and the equally compelling story of Maggie Freeman, the daughter of a Native American Kaw and a Black man. The spark of their romance and the light of their love make the vicarious experience of their journey worth following.

Night Hawk begins in 1889 two continents apart with Ian Vance Bigelow aka Preacher the gun toting bounty hunter turned U.S. Marshall returning to his homeland Scotland to visit his mother’s grave and there confronts his mother’s father. The wealthy grandfather delivers the mother’s dowry–festering guilt money. On Ian’s return journey traveling from Boston to his ranch in Wyoming by train and horse he finds himself burdened with escorting a prisoner. On a train stop in Dowd Kansas his path intersects with Maggie Freeman. Maggie, orphaned at an early age has been forced to eke out a living. In an attempted rape while working as a cook in a cat house she defends herself resulting in her attacker’s accidental death. Under arrest and to avoid a lynch mob the Sheriff attempts to move his prisoner to Kansas City when circumstances forced him to turn Maggie over to the U.S. Marshall, Ian Vance Bigelow, for delivery. From thereon to Cheyenne in a series of episodic adventures the two must overcome a series of obstacles including a budding romance.

Jenkins embeds accurate historical facts based on the established roots of real people into her stories paying homage to the diverse roots of the American people. Her lead characters are heroic, courageous, and far from stereotypical. exploring the struggles of African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Native Americans. The couples’ journey is skillfully woven with remarkable fidelity into the American historical tapestry. With some 30 books the award winning romance novelist Beverly Jenkins ranks among best, but as for the specific African American historical romance she is a pioneer at the absolute top, and with her vivid characters, intense love scenes and substantive themes it easy to see how she got there.

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