Jenkins returns to Henry Adams, Kans., for her 10th Blessings novel (after Second Time Sweeter) in this pleasing tale centered on a mayoral election. Trent July is stepping down as mayor, and his predecessor, Riley Curry, is planning to run—despite not being liked by anyone. It is a comfort to everyone in town when Col. Barrett Payne decides to run for mayor, but his plans are complicated when the town reacts enthusiastically to his wife, Sheila, entering the race as well. As everyone claims to have the best interest of the community at heart, tensions rise further when series regular Bernadine Brown’s ex-husband, Leo, returns to become Riley’s campaign manager. Bernadine must also decide whether to forgive Mal July, her former lover, or to let him go. Jenkins’s characters come to vivid life, and the town is as well developed as those who live there. As strife and foibles mount and the town finally chooses the next mayor, Henry Adams remains a place of faith where marriages deepen and relationships are mended. This is the best of the series so far. (Mar.)
Al Roker on Beverly Jenkins' Blessings series
"This storytelling is uplifting and engaging and proves it really does take a village."
In the latest installment of her "Blessings" series (following Second Time Sweeter) Jenkins returns to Henry Adams, KS, a town originally founded by freed slaves. We're told there are no secrets in Henry Adams, and that's the truth. Bernadine Brown remains the owner of the town—she purchased it on eBay—but a wide-open mayoral election has everyone gossiping about the drama of husband and wife Barrett and Sheila Payne both running as candidates. Stepping away from running the town, Bernadine struggles to comprehend why her ex-husband Leo lost his oil company job but now shows up as a campaign manager. Bernadine makes abrupt leaps from kind town leader to hard-driving businesswoman but also finds time to rekindle a romance with Malachi July. This close-knit town seems a dream come true, but the tranquil backdrop cloaks plenty of skullduggery. VERDICT Readers new to the series may grow confused with characters from earlier volumes popping into scenes without backstory. Jenkins's easygoing tale takes time to warm up to its somewhat exciting ending, which promises another addition to the series. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]—Rollie Welch, Lehigh Acres, FL
The residents of Henry Adams, Kansas, prepare to elect a new mayor.
Town matriarch Bernadine Brown is dealing with problems both personal and professional. Bernadine is struggling to move forward with her lover, Malachi July, after a terrible betrayal, and she sees how the upcoming mayoral election is causing fractures and fault lines in families throughout Henry Adams. The 10th installment of Jenkins' (Rebel, 2019, etc.) Blessings series is filled to the brim with characters and subplots, and if it starts off with perhaps too much exposition about events from past books, the people are still compelling. Women prioritizing their own feelings and needs in order to forgive and move forward is the thematic and emotional core of the book. Of particular note is the focus on longtime married couple Sheila and Barrett Payne. Sheila is still reeling from the devastating discovery of her husband's infidelity despite her years of unwavering support for his military career. Barrett announces his plans to run for mayor and expects Sheila's support, but Sheila has her own plans to run for mayor. Like most of the candidates, Sheila lacks political experience, but she presents a well-researched platform that will benefit all the town's citizens. When Barrett tells her that she "[doesn't] know the first thing about running a town," Sheila stands up for herself and her dreams. As the election continues, Bernadine's ex-husband, Leo, appears in town, hoping to gain revenge for perceived slights in the past. Although the multiple long-running plotlines and extensive backstories might prove to be an impediment to new readers, this is still a charming installment full of warm, interesting characters. The small-town drama is intense, but Jenkins merrily moves the plot forward, always rewarding good people and punishing wrongdoers.
For longtime fans who are looking forward to catching up with beloved characters.