Day 29 Beverly Jenkins – Still Celebrating Romance

Beverly JenkinsCelebrating My Own Long-Lasting Romance

Celebrating romance is a no brainer for me – one, I’m a romance writer and two, for 32 years I was married to the man all my heroes are based upon. We met at Michigan State University in the early seventies. I was nineteen, he was twenty one and we were both poor as church mice. How could I not love a man who rode a bike from his apartment on the other side of campus to come and see me? The year was 1971 and we were friends at first, then sealed the deal verbally on April 15th. Yes, tax day. We got married legally eight or nine years later but to this day I can’t tell you the actual date. We always considered April 15th our anniversary and that’s the day we celebrated.

Mainstream society would have us believe that black men are the lowest of the low – undependable, shiftless, thugs. Thank god for romance where we writers get to accentuate and embrace the black men society doesn’t talk about – the ones who love their wives, spoil their daughters, raise their sons to be strong and viable members of society, pay their taxes, look out for their elderly parents and work as everything from corporate executives to school teachers, to small business owners and everything in between.

He and I had ten awesome years together B.C. – before children. We’d sometimes play hooky from work, jump in our little blue VW Beetle and drive across the state to spend the day on the beaches in Holland and Grand Haven. In the spring and fall, we’d take along our kites. In the winter, we’d take our hats, coats, gloves and coffee. There is something very romantic and stimulating about walking the snow covered beach in the winter, drinking coffee, feeling that iciness on your face and then running back to the car before you’re turned into an icicle. We’d then go back to the hotel room and find scandalous ways to warm up in front of the fireplace.

He was the first big supporter of my work. When I told him I wanted to write a book, he didn’t laugh or express doubts. He replied, “Baby, what do you need?” He hated when I was on lockdown for deadline though because that meant I couldn’t come out and play. Each night when I’d finally crawl into bed he’d ask, like a little kid, “Are you done yet?” If my answer was no, he’d sigh, kiss my cheek and whisper, “Hurry up.”

And when I finally finished he brought home flowers. Every time.

Cancer took him from me and my children on November 30, 2003. Losing a love like that is something you never get over, but you get through it because memories of the romance remain. Memories of him being able to heat me up with just a look from across a room. Memories of the love we made and the jokes we shared. I have a picture in my office of us at a formal dinner. He’s wearing a tux and I’m in a classy and quite expensive dress. Each time I see it, I smile. He had my panties in his pocket. My name is Beverly Jenkins, and yes, I celebrate romance. Still.

Questions for the Author

1.) Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did. 

It took me a while to answer this question because I never thought about my life in terms of adventure before, but looking back I decided that the most daring, adventurous and inspiring thing has to be leaving my insular world on the east side of Detroit and heading northwest to attend Michigan HeartofGold 1State University. The year was 1969 and I was eighteen years old. Leaving home and living in the dorm on campus was breathtaking. I could make my own decisions, I made friends who are still in my life forty plus years later, I could come and go as I pleased, and I met the love of my life.

I’d always been an avid reader. Growing up I’d read everything from Arna Bontemps to Shakespeare to Zane Grey, but being an English major showed me just how much I hadn’t read: Milton, Alexander Pope, Ishmael Reed, Alice Walker, Frank Herbert. I formed my political consciousness at MSU via Angela Davis, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Jimi Hendrix. Those were amazing times. And then it got better. Rather than take my finals during Junior year, I opted for a full time job at the MSU graduate library. Life was complete. The only thing I’d ever wanted in life was to work in a library. I worked there for six years never knowing that the books I was around daily would play an important role in the life of the historical romance writer I’d no idea I would become.

2.) Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I never planned or wanted to be a writer. Librarian? Yes. Writer? No. Books were my life. In the early 90s I was working in the library at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals. A colleague of mine, LaVerne had just published a sweet romance with Avalon. In my spare time I was working on a romance about a Buffalo Soldier and an Oberlin educated school teacher. Back then publishing was operating under the myth that Black women didn’t read nor could we write, so I was writing this romance for me – not for publication.

LaVerne took a look at my manuscript and strongly encouraged me to get it published. Where??? ( I read everything in those days including romance, and was a big fan of Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, Johanna Lindsey and Linda Lael Miller – I still have my copy of Banner O’Brien somewhere in this house btw.) I knew the name Vivian Stephens and that she’d been a big time romance editor at Dell and was the founder of RWA. She was no longer in publishing but was an agent. I contacted her. She contacted me less than a week later, and in 1993 when Ellen Edwards the executive editor of Avon books said yes to my manuscript, the journey to becoming a published author began.

3 – Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

The book that changed my life was my first published book – Night Song. I am who am because of it. Think the Dr. Seuss book – Oh the Places You’ll Go. When you throw in: And The People You’ll Meet – you have my life. All due to a 3.99 paperback book that is still in print today. Life is truly amazing.

Beverly is generously giving away five copies of Destiny’s Surrender to U.S. readers (apologies to international friends). Entry form below.


 

Kerrytown Bookfest 2008Beverly Jenkins is the nation’s premier writer of African American historical romance fiction and specializes in 19th century African American life. She has over thirty published novels to date.

She has received numerous awards, including: five Waldenbooks/Borders Group Best Sellers Awards; two Career Achievement Awards and a Pioneer Award from Romantic Times Magazine; a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild, and in 1999 was named one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club.

She has also been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Dallas Morning News and Vibe Magazine. She has lectured and given talks at such prestigious universities as Oberlin University, the University of Illinois, and Princeton. She speaks widely on both romance and 19th century African-American history and was the 2014 featured speaker for the W.W. Law Lecture Series sponsored by the Savannah Black Heritage Festival.

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  • Make Kay

    Your story made me cry. What a wonderful hubby!

    • beverly jenkins

      Aww, Thanks. He was a great hubby! 🙂

  • Erica H

    I know you mainly right historical romance, but I do enjoy the few books you wrote that were romantic suspense contemporaries. They are so well written and easy to relate to.

    • beverly jenkins

      Glad you enjoyed them Erica.

  • Natasha T

    Your story made me cry too. I love your books I cant wait to get the new one. it will probably be this weekend.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks Natasha. Destiny’s Captive will be out in late October.

  • LisaVH

    What a sweet story. Thank you for sharing.

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re welcome Lisa.

  • Martha B

    No wonder you can write romance so easily. Your life is a romance novel come to life. I’m so sorry that you lost your husband in 2003. Way too early. You’re absolutely right. You will never “get over it”; you learn how to live each day with the hole in your heart.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks Martha, and yes, I was the heroine in my very own true life romance novel. No, we never get over the death of our soul mate but you do get through it. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    What a love story, Bev! I will now think of April 15th as a romantic memory and think of you. I shed tears as well. ♥ The library is one of my favorite places, so glad you are writing. Will check out your books and thanks for the chance!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks so much, Lorelei. In my book, A Chance at Love, my gambler heroine shares your name. 🙂 Pretty awesome.

      • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

        Pretty awesome indeed! will check your book out!

  • Sue G.

    Well thanks for bringing tears to my eyes this Friday morning! Your husband sounds like he was a wonderful person. I met my hubby at 17, him 18. We went to different colleges and still stayed together. This year we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and renewed our vows. Two kids are at college and the last one leaves next year. We are really looking forward to our “me” time together again! Thanks for the wonderful writeup!

    • beverly jenkins

      Didn’t mean to make you cry, Sue. 🙂 He was a pretty special guy. Once you get that last kid out of the house enjoy renewing your love affair with your special guy.

      • Sue G.

        Planning on it! 😉

  • Tammy H

    I’m glad you had a sweet, wonderful husband and a great marriage. I’m so sorry you lost him. Cancer took my Dad when I was only 9 and my Mom in December 2012.

    • beverly jenkins

      Tammy, my condolences on your loss. Cancer is an awful disease. Sending you peace and blessings for the future.

  • Monica Kelley

    Thanks for sharing a little bit of Mr. Jenkins with us.

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re welcome Monica.

  • Angela Anthony

    I truly enjoyed your story Mz BJ. Thank you for sharing

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re welcome Angela

  • Denise King

    You had such a beautiful love story Beverly, one that is very rare, I’m kinda jealous. 🙂 I now know why your romance books are so real,it’s because you had the real thing,I just want to say that I have read and LOVED every book you have written, and will continue to do so. A very appreciative fan.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Denise.

      • Denise King

        You’re welcome writer lady.

  • Valerie Miller

    You are the best! You’re always inspiring me. Now, I feel compelled to grab John and drive over to the left coast this winter!

    • beverly jenkins

      Val. Do it. Start out in Holland – then take Port Sheldon Rd up to Grand Haven, then back on the highway to the state park in Muskegon. We would do the trip in a day and spend the night in Grand Rapids. Enjoy!

  • Pam

    “Mainstream society would have us believe that black men are the lowest
    of the low – undependable, shiftless, thugs. Thank god for romance where
    we writers get to accentuate and embrace the black men society doesn’t
    talk about – the ones who love their wives, spoil their daughters, raise
    their sons to be strong and viable members of society, pay their taxes,
    look out for their elderly parents and work as everything from
    corporate executives to school teachers, to small business owners and
    everything in between.” YES! This brought tears to my eyes.

    I am sorry to say that I haven’t yet read any of your books, but based on your own love story alone, I am off to amazon right now to download IMMEDIATELY.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Pam! If you favor historical you might want to start with Topaz. If you savor suspense, pick up Edge of Dawn. Enjoy!

  • Thank you so much for being here today Beverly, and for sharing your lovely story. What a great voice you are and I’m honored to have you participate in RARM. xo

    • beverly jenkins

      Bobbi. Thanks for the invitation. Much appreciated.

  • Conseula

    Thanks for sharing your story here and for sharing your talent in your work. I hope this post brings a bunch of new readers to Bevyville. 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Consuela. I hope it does, too.

  • Dawn Anderson

    An absolutely beautiful love story!

    • beverly jenkins

      We had a great time together as you can probably tell from the post. Thanks, Dawn.

  • Connie Saunders

    I recently retired from our public library and we had begin circulating your books in the past few years. I was touched by your great love affair and marriage and I am so sorry for your loss.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Connie.

  • mshickman_31088

    This is so sweet. Beverly Jenkins is my favorite author.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Steph,

  • Connie Saunders

    I am recently retired from our public library and your books have become quite popular in our collection. I was touched by your love affair and marriage and I am so sorry for your loss.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks so much for that, Connie.

  • Christal Gamble Gearring

    If you haven’t been privy to reading the work of this author, I am sorry to say, you haven’t really enjoyed a book. Not really. Ms. Jenkins beckons you to grab a fuzzy blanket, a cup of cocoa, and a favorite snack. Curl up tight and comfy in your favorite chair and settle in for a fantastic journey to another place full of adventure, romance and intrigue. Her books are what reading is all about. And when you turn the last page, wipe your tears of happiness away and finally unfurl from your special place, all you can do is wait patiently for her next book and pray that God lights a little fire under her to write it quickly.

    • beverly jenkins

      🙂 Thanks for those kind words, Christal.

  • Anna

    I love the story about the photo of you and your husband! What a delicious memory! Thank you for sharing that. 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Anna, you’re welcome.

  • Allie

    love your books, loved *your* romance even more. i think Night Hawk is my favorite…

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks so much Allie. I like Night Hawk a lot as well.

  • Paula M. Odume

    Wow Ms. Beverly. I agree with Denise. I also see why your books are so great. You write from experience. The minute I read about the panties in the pocket, I thought about Teresa July and Damian. Your wonderful love and life with your husband is the reason your books are so great. Its like we know a real life heroin and hero. I am so happy and blessed to have discovered your books and even more happy and blessed to know such a grand lady such as yourself. And when I happen upon a person who is looking for something to read, I always tell them about your books. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your blessed talent and love of romance with me/us. Thank you Ms. Beverly. 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Paula!

      • Paula M. Odume

        You are more than welcome. 🙂

  • Joyce Pettiford Manning

    I can’t often enough say how much I love your books. The real life romance you share is even more memorable than the delectable Dixon Wildhorse. Please continue to share your talents with us.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks Joyce. The support is greatly appreciated.

  • Dariel Crenshaw

    Love Beverly Jenkins and all the characters in her novels. I have everyone. Print AND eBook. Her books are dog-earred from reading over again. I even hoard a few extra copies I found at yard sales. They are like my little babies. I’d hate to part with them. Like Ms. Jenkins, I know men like the ones she describes in her novels. They are not rareties. They are the foundations in my life. Kudos to Ms. Jenkins!!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Dariel. They are unsung indeed.

  • Quinn Fforde

    A beautiful and inspiring post! Thank you!

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re welcome Quinn. Thank you.

  • Jamie Owen

    Bev is the best! Love every book she’s written & eagerly await every book she has coming!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Jamie. You’re now starring in your own romance novel. Enjoy!

  • Shelia Lowery Brown

    It seems like you two were best friends. You were blessed to find your soulmate. Many women do not. Thank-you for creating those wonderful Yates men, Max Rudd, and the handsome Griffin. The men in your books show so much tenderness.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Sheila. All are molded on his model.

  • Schawndria

    I love ms. Jenkins and all her books! She is a very good author…..excellent….I have just about every book!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Schawndria.

  • A Lynne Wall

    Beautiful memories, got a little misty.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks , Lynne. You take care of yourself. You’re in my prayers.

  • Chantel Sawyer Lumpkin

    Thanks for sharing Ms. Bev! I have been a fan for years and have all your books as hard copies and many also on Kindle. I feel blessed to have met you years ago in Benton Harbor when you graciously signed all my books! Thanks for your romantic perceptions and stories featuring our black men and our history.

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re very welcome, Chantel.

  • Daphne R Herndon

    I have read all your books and absolutely love them! 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Daphne.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I loved your essay!!! I wish I knew about your books before I retired from teaching high school. So many of my students had trouble finding books that they could connect to. Understand, I taught in Minneapolis, Minnesota in some of the neediest parts of the city. They knew I was an avid reader, but didn’t want to read my books. Some of those kids need to see role models like you to see what they could possibly do. Thank you!!

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re very welcome., Eileen.

  • Stephanie M.

    I loved reading the story of you and your husband. I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll be adding you to my TBR list. 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Thank you, Stephanie.

  • Narda Seaberry

    I am a long time reader of romance. I worked part time for Waldenbooks so I knew which books were coming in before they went on the shelf. When I saw Night Song I had been looking for romance with Black characters and there you were. You are on my must buy list of authors and I can’t wait for Destiny’s Captive. Thank you for hours of enjoyable reads.

    • beverly jenkins

      Narda. You are so welcome and thank you for the two decades of support! Means the world to me.

  • Cindy A

    Wow! Your post brings back memories. I met my husband in 1971 on campus – in a line to get our picture taken for ID cards. He bought a bike, got me to buy a bike. We rode all over campus and to our apartments, dorms, etc. We got married in 74. We are celebrating our 40th anniv.

    • beverly jenkins

      YGG! Congrats on the 40th anniversary!

  • M Kuxhaus

    I loved your essay! What a wonderful love you were blessed with!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, M. I was very blessed.

  • catslady

    Love the cover!

    • beverly jenkins

      It’s very nice, Avon Art rocks!

  • Briana Hammonds

    It is so true what you said about how romance allows us to depict our black men. I absolutely love reading romance with black men. I have no real preference when it comes to race as far as who I marry but it’s so uplifting to see the better side of our men portrayed in such moving books. Thank you for writing the stories you do. I’m so glad you got to experience such amazing love and support with your husband. Thanks for sharing that experience and keeping the hope alive.

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re very welcome, Briana.

  • Ms. Prissy

    Thank you for sharing your personal romance story. This has only endeared you to me more!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks so much Ms. Parker.

  • Shawna

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your love story! Your real story will have someone to believe fairy tales can come true!! I love your Books And you Ms.Beverly like a favorite auntee! 😀

    • beverly jenkins

      Awww. Thanks, Shawna!

  • mariannewestrich

    Wow! I think you should write about your own love story. I’d buy that book. I am so sorry for your loss but am envious of the love and life shared.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks Marianne. He was amazing.

  • ALM247

    What a great story Mrs. Jenkins. I have been a fan of your work for years. Keep the great stories coming!!!!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thank you!!

  • Sharon Forbes

    I am like Pam, who commented right before me, I haven’t read any of your books yet, but I will remedy that very soon! I thoroughly enjoyed your post, and agree, you never get over your one true love. I still have mine, thankfully. It is I who has been dealing with breast cancer this year, and he has been with me through it all, all the pain, the tears, and thankfully, the laughter,because without that, I don’t know if I would have gotten this far. Also, my books and the ability to read and enjoy them has helped immensely. I have always loved to read, especially a good romance novel, and being able to escape for a while in a great book has definetly helped me through all this! 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Breast cancer runs in my family, so I’m sending you prayers of strength and lots of of Blessings. Kudos to the love in your life who’s walking this road with you. May your future hold only light.

  • Marcy Shuler

    I loved reading about your real life romance with your husband, Beverly, and about the picture in your office. It made me smile too.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks Marcy.

  • Sheila M

    Your personal story moved me greatly. I haven’t read your books before, but now I will. If your books are half as good as what you wrote above, they must be fabulous.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Sheila.

  • Emmel

    I love how you celebrate your romance even though your husband is no longer with us. I see that in my mother every day as well. What a comforting thing to have!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Emmel. Sending your mom my regards.

  • Shantay Harris

    Well Mrs. Jenkins, you are among my favorite writers. I love the historical aspects of your books and how you tie them together. You are great and I have read most of your books. I am looking forward to Destiny’s Captive.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks so much, Shantay!

  • Julie Nieves

    What a beautiful love story you have lived. I’m new to your books and can’t wait to dive in to the first one!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Julie.

  • Ruth

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re welcome, Ruth.

  • Andrea Hopkins-Smith

    I have read the other two Destiny’s books loved them love her Romance junkie!

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Andrea!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    What a beautiful love story you have had in your own life…I know that based on your life experiences and love of books, you must write fantastic romances. I have already added several of your books to my list (based on your responses below, I think I am going to start with Edge of Dawn since I love a good suspense). I loved your essay and it is definitely inspiring to me on a personal level to make sure that I savor every moment with my husband. We’ve had 12 years together (8 married) and I hope to have many, many more. We don’t have nearly enough adventures but have really tried to increase our time spent together away from work and stress. I hope one day to be able to look back on our lives as fondly as you are able to and I’ll be increasing those kite-flying, coffee drinking days (with a few shopping marathons thrown in since he is so amazing he even goes shopping with me). Thanks for all you do and I can’t wait to start digging into your books!!!

    • beverly jenkins

      Courtney. That is such a great plan. Make sure you two carve out that space to enjoy each other. As the elders say: tomorrow is not promised. And sadly they are right. Enjoy the kites!

  • Sabrina S. Scott

    Awesome article! The first historical romance I ever read was written by Beverly Jenkins. Before that fateful day, I had NO clue that black folks were even included in that segment of the genre. I immediately became a Beverly Jenkins “fanatic” – read EVERYTHING she wrote and I have NEVER been dissapointed. I wish that her historicals were offered as a basis for history classes for our young people. I think that her writing not only exemplefies the best of the best, but she truly brings history to life, and presents it in a way that makes it not only palatable, but encourages the reader to want to know more about the time and our participation. Her contemporary books are all the more exciting because though present day, the protaganists are decendants of the folks in her historicals. I’ve never walked away from any of her historical novels where I haven’t learned something about our history that I didn’t know before reading them.

    • beverly jenkins

      Aww, thanks, Sabrina. I appreciate your kind words and all the support.

  • Glenda

    “Mainstream society” believes many things that are not true.

    • beverly jenkins

      No kidding, Glenda.

  • Joan Varner

    Your story is beautiful and I understand how you cherish your memories. Thank you for sharing that story with us.

    • beverly jenkins

      You’re very welcome, Joan.

  • Pamby50

    Thank you for such a wonderful post. So many people want to tell us that black men are the worst. I’m glad I fell in love with a man who happened to be black. Even as I am sitting here writing on this post, I am smiling. He has given me 3 of the most wonderful gifts, our children. He taught the girls to have respect for themselves. Therefore no man would be allow to treat them badly. He also taught our son, the same values. I am looking forward to reading a book you wrote.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Pam. Kudos to your love. I have 30 books in print, so take your pick. Hope you enjoy your choice.

  • Well you just made me cry. And in a good way. What a sweet lovely post you have written.

    • beverly jenkins

      Many thanks, Lisa.

  • rebecca moe

    What a wonderful post–thank you so much for sharing. I’ve heard wonderful things about your books–can’t wait to read them 🙂

    • beverly jenkins

      Thank you, Rebecca. Hope you enjoy them.

  • Judy Hunt

    Loved your personal story. I have read your books before and enjoyed them.

    • beverly jenkins

      Thanks, Judy

  • Judy Goodnight

    Thanks for sharing your personal love story. And Go State! MSU alum 1977.