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Romance novels for African-Americans from MI author

Beverly  Jenkins 'Breathless' book cover
Beverly Jenkins will talk about her historical romance novels at the Schuler book store in the Eastwood Towne Center at 7 p.m. Thursday.

A romance novelist from Belleville, Michigan, will be in Lansing on Thursday to talk about her stories. Beverly Jenkins has published almost three dozen historical romances aimed at African-American readers.

Beverly Jenkins says romance novels are big business, with sales of $1.3-billion, or more than 30-percent of the mainstream fiction market, last year.

"These are not your mama's or your grandmother's romance novels," she explains. "We still have the clinch on the cover, but your dealing with stories these days by women who are writing fantastic stories about American veterans coming back from Afghanistan, you're dealing with sanctuary cities, every aspect of American life. Yeah, there are love scenes, but that's not the focus of the story."

Jenkins says there is a growing number of these novels aimed at an African-American audience. "One of the great things about the way romance has expanded its 'romancelandia' is that it's opened up to not only African-Americans," she continues, "but there's gay romances, there's paranormal, there's all of these different branches of the romance tree, and African-American women are claiming their spot."

Her specialty is historical fiction. "I do the history that you may not have been exposed to," Jenkins says. "The history of the African-American contribution to the American Revolution, or the black Civil War veterans. I also do westerns, so you get the shoot-'em-ups with the black and brown outlaws and lawmen."

Jenkins calls her work edutainment: entertainment and education. "So," she concludes, "you get a great story with great characters, great love scenes, and you get a bibliography in the back in case you want to do more research."

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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