Series: Blessings #1
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on January 27th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
On Bernadine Brown's fifty-second birthday she received an unexpected gift—she caught her husband, Leo, cheating with his secretary. She was hurt—angry, too—but she didn't cry woe is me. Nope, she hired herself a top-notch lawyer and ended up with a cool $275 million. Having been raised in the church, she knew that when much is given much is expected, so she asked God to send her a purpose.
The purpose turned out to be a town: Henry Adams, Kansas, one of the last surviving townships founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. The failing town had put itself up for sale on the Internet, so Bernadine bought it.
Trent July is the mayor, and watching the town of his birth slide into debt and foreclosure is about the hardest thing he's ever done. When the buyer comes to town, he's impressed by her vision, strength, and the hope she wants to offer not only to the town and its few remaining residents, but to a handful of kids in desperate need of a second chance.
Not everyone in town wants to get on board though; they don't want change. But Bernadine and Trent, along with his first love, Lily Fontaine, are determined to preserve the town's legacy while ushering in a new era with ties to its unique past and its promising future.
“I’ve always believed the Spirit puts people in our lives for a reason. I’m not sure if that applies to eleven-year-old carjackers, but we’ll work with what the Spirit sends.”
February’s Mocha Girls Read book club selection was Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins. This was the first time I had read any of her books, but I knew she was an African-American author who wrote mostly romance novels. Already having one of her books on my shelf, I’ve been curious about her writing for awhile. Luckily, February’s book was the first book in the series of the book I already had. While I was disappointed the book I had didn’t get chosen, I didn’t mind reading one of Jenkin’s other novels.
Bring on the Blessings begins when Bernadine Brown winds up $275 million richer after divorcing her cheating husband. Feeling like she should use the money to help others, Bernadine gets the idea to buy a dying, historic town, and revitalizing it. She also decides to turn it into a place where foster children could find homes, and a fresh start. After searching, Bernadine finds floundering Henry Adams in Kansas, which was founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. When Bernadine bought it, she knew she’d have her work cut out for herself, but she never expected to find that not every resident is overjoyed by the town being bought. Nor did she expect to discover that she’d just moved to a town without cell or internet service. As you can guess, lots of funny antics take place as Bernadine meets the townsfolk, and the group of kids she selects to come live there.
I really enjoyed the crazy personalities that exist in this town. Having never grown-up in a small town, I didn’t know if Jenkin’s descriptions of Kansas life was real, but after speaking with some folks at the book club’s meeting, I discovered it was very true. This made me enjoy the story even more, and left me thinking I may continue on with the series at a later date. While the characterizations were interesting, I found the book a tad slow, as most of the novel is built on character building. Since I knew this was the first book in the series, I wasn’t surprised, but some parts dragged a bit.
If there was something I wished were different, it would be the sitcom ending. Everything was just too hunky dory for me, and I wished there was more authentic tension instead of the unnecessary romantic kind. Having heard that the series begins to move away from the Hallmark Channel feels in later books has made me curious about how Jenkin’s writing changes down the line. If you like sappy Hallmark movies, then you may want to give this series a try. If not, the novels can act as standalone novels, and you may want to skip to a later book in the series for more grit.