As regular readers to this blog are aware, I’m a serial book glommer. If I find a series I like and circumstances allow, I will absolutely read them one after another and my annual Big Obsessions posts are proof of it – with Steph Plum, Kinsey Milhone, Charles Paris among a list to which we can now add Beverly Jenkins’s Blessings series which I read in a month, including four of them pretty much back to back in the run up to Easter.
The first in the series, Bring on the Blessings, was BotW pick at the start of April, but here’s the series set up: Bernadine Brown is a very wealthy divorcée. After discovering her husband was cheating on her on her 52nd birthday, she took him for half his fortune and starts to think about what she can do with her life now. It turns out that what she can do is buy the town of Henry Adams in Kansas – a historic black township founded by freed slaves after the Civil War, but now struggling and in decline. It’s for sale on ebay as the town’s mayor tries to stop it being absorbed by a neighbouring town. Her plan: to revitalise the town and to use it as a place to give troubled kids a second chance at life by setting them up into good foster homes. Not everyone is onboard with the plan – some of the Henry Adams residents are sceptical and some of the kids would really rather be elsewhere, but over the course of the nine (so far) books we see Bernadine’s plan grow and develop.
As well as watching the town develop you get a romantic element in each book – whether its a couple getting together, or reconnecting. They are a Christian Inspirational series – but not in a overly moralising way, so I don’t think you’ll find them too much if you’re not really interested in that – they’re not out to convert you. And the characters aren’t all perfect people living perfect Christian lives. They’re sometimes messy, all make mistakes or do the wrong thing at times – and learn from it. And because there’s such a lovely big cast, who all have running storylines, even if a novel is focused on someone who isn’t one of your favourites, there’s still plenty from the rest of town to keep you happy. Don’t expect gritty realism here – this is pure escapism and some of the coincidences are totally farfetched – but that’s a romance genre staple. There’s nothing here that hasn’t happened at least once in a small town romance – and we all know that I find them totally glommable.
I was trying to think which was my favourite storyline, but it was actually easier to come up with my favourite character – Amari the reformed underage car thief. He gets the best lines, he’s got a handle on who he is and what he’s up to and he feels like a real boy.
I borrowed the whole series from the library, run after another, but you should be able to get hold of these fairly easily on Kindle – although the paperbacks may prove harder in the UK as they look like a special order from the US.