Breathless

Written by Beverly Jenkins
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

1880s Arizona Territory is caught between its Wild West traditions and the beginnings of the tourist industry in this well-wrought riff on Sense and Sensibility. Portia Carmichael and her beloved sister have come through a difficult childhood. Portia is now an independent woman and bookkeeper at a successful hotel. Distrustful of men, she has steered clear of suitors until a family friend comes into her life. Kent is a dashing cowboy looking to put down roots. He helps Portia to unlock her passion for love. Together they celebrate family connections, deal with murderous land grabbers, a kidnapping, and even a mystical visit with Geronimo’s on-the-run band.

Infused with extensive knowledge of the experience of people of color in the American West, endearing characters and a lively plot, Breathless is sure to please. The conventions of the romance genre are here. So are unique complications such as it being impossible to form a posse to go after murderers because there are no white people available to lead one.