ARC Review: The Brightest Day, A Historical Romance Anthology by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper Huguley

Posted 2 June, 2015 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 0 Comments

The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology Book Cover The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology
Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper Hugely
Romance, historical romance,
Seditious Sisters
June 1, 2015
200 pages

The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology, with a foreword by the inimitable Beverly Jenkins, brings you four novellas highlighting love, light, and hope set over a period of history that’s often left in the shadows.

Amazing Grace, by Lena Hart:
It’s the year 1866—the Civil War is over and slavery has ended. Life for 18-year-old Gracie Shaw takes an unexpected turn when she is “encouraged” to marry a man sight-unseen. Boarded on a train headed West—to lawless territory—she is faced with misfortune at every turn and must accept the help of former Confederate soldier, Logan Finley, while denying herself the one thing she wants most. Him.

Drifting to You, by Kianna Alexander:
During the sultry Carolina summer of 1875, baker Rosaline Rhodes boards a Juneteenth cruise down the Cape Fear River. She's there to serve her famous cinnamon spice cake; shipbuilder Will Pruett is there for pleasure. They've denied their mutual attraction for months, but now the river won't be the only thing ebbing and flowing.

A Sweet Way to Freedom, by Piper Huguley:
In 1910, schoolteacher Missouri Baxter refuses to return home with a big belly and no husband. She’s got nine months to teach juke joint owner Arlo Tucker—a most reluctant student—an important lesson about what marriage means to their people. With God on her side, she'll show him “A Sweet Way to Freedom.”

Let It Shine, by Alyssa Cole:
Sofronia Wallis knows that proper Black women don't court trouble by upending the status quo, and they most certainly don't associate with roughneck Jewish boxers like Ivan Friedman. But it’s 1961 and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing. Change—and love—are coming whether Sofie is ready or not.

So. So. SOOOOOOOOOO. Oh my goodness. If you love historical, multicultural romance, get your hands on this release when it comes out! Five beautifully written stories set in a pivotal moment of African-American history. You really can’t afford to skip this anthology!

I never learned much about Juneteenth. It was not taught in schools and my peers seem to consider the day as more of a celebration of slavery than a celebration of freedom. Via the foreword from prolific black romance author Beverly Jenkins, I learned more about Juneteenth. On June 19th, 1865 in Galveston, TX, a proclamation was set forth that all slaves were free. Most celebrated that day January 1 because of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation… however Texas celebrates this day of freedom on June 19th, when the proclamation was read, and their descendants still do.

Each of the stories in this anthology revolve around freedom and civil rights, including the right to love the one you choose to love. Lena Hart tells us the story of Gracie Shaw in Amazing Grace. Gracie is a young southern black woman, promised to a good man in Montana. She must make the trip to meet the man she is contracted to marry by train… where she happens to meet the love of her life, Logan Finley, half Mexican, half Irish. Not only is he not of African descent, but Gracie’s family had already received payment for her agreement to marry Robert Whitaker. In addition, there’s something in Logan’s past that Gracie isn’t sure she can forgive.

Kianna Alexander shares a story about baker Rosaline Rhodes, who’s so sweet on ship builder Will Pruitt, the attraction wafts from the page. When Rosaline is advised to choose a mate who was not a former slave– in an effort to elevate herself, it was suggested– it becomes the impetus she and Will need to begin their lives together aboard a Juneteenth cruise down the Cape Fear River. This story was really SO Sweet and one of my favorites!

Piper Huguley is my new #BAE. She writes such glorious historical romances, I’m just in love with her novels! A Sweet Way to Freedom is set Winslow, a Georgia Hamlet. This story appears to be a one-off of the Milford College series that Hugely has been releasing since 2014. Teacher Missouri “Missy” Baxter finds her self in a curious predicament, having become pregnant whilst unmarried… But everyone knows who the father is. Arlo Tucker is a man who seems afraid of the future. Watching these two come together was humorous and delightful as well as seeing Arlo come into the man he was destined to be. GREAT read.

Alyssa Cole’s Let it Shine is my first read from her but it won’t be my last! Her depiction of ‘Good Southern Girl’ Sofronia ‘Sofie’ Wallis’s forbidden romance with a Jewish neighborhood gentleman Ivan Friedman during the Civil Rights movement was educational and entertaining. The first scene brought a giggle to my lips… I remember hearing the older ladies in the church gossiping about so and so who’s pregnant but not married and feeling all kinds of weird about witnessing that. This story reminded me so much of my upbringing as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) in a COGIC church… the expectation to be a good girl, because no man wanted a hussy. The idea that everything you do is a reflection on your parents and how you were raised. How unwavering obedience and unquestioned adherence to strict rules and guidelines are expected– and are the norm. And how a person aches to be defined by themselves, their own achievements and not what the previous generation wants from them. Just as I had to, Sofie had to find a piece of herself and take a step into her future. Hand in hand with, not just a white man… but a Jew. Really great read and it brings to mind a friend of mine that recently married a Jewish man. What a cultural divide to cross… but they’re making it, and I have every assumption that Sofie and Ivan lived to grow old together!

This anthology is important because I believe that we need to know our history, and because people who look like me and share my ancestry fell in love and created the future that I live in. Romance is not just about white faces on book covers… and historical romance is more than Dukes and Queens and Regency. Our historical romances are our pasts brought to life.

The Brightest Day will be available June 1,2015. Pick it up!

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