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review 2019-05-04 16:03
Chs 17-end and wrap-up
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I got slammed at work and have been trying to do extra in prep for my vacay to Seattle, I fell way behind in this :(  

Booklikes is going incredibly slow for me, scrolling through my timeline is painful. Please let me know if I missed anything important!

 

Anyway, Ch 17-end talk................

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galen, this woman sat around controlling people like marionettes. There are payments here to midwives who kept her informed on illegitimate births. She has them organized by parish, for heaven's sake!

 

For how horrible Galen's grandmother sounded, there is a little part of me that would have liked more of her story. A good solid villain with depth is my secret catnip, I feel it makes the protagonist even stronger to have such worthy opponents. She obviously wasn't set-up to be the main villain of this story but I would have liked more of her. I mean, "organized by parish", got to respect the game, lol.

 

"No doubt, she's spinning in her casket just hearing you contemplate such actions."

"Well, the more she spins, the more evenly she will roast."

 

I want to hang out with Racine. This quote was amazing. 

 

From what I've seen, Indigo is a standalone but I feel like Raymond's brother and Ginnette are peak series baiting couple material. 

 

They've ridden with some of the most brazen kidnappers in the country: the Gag Gang, Patty Cannon's Gang.

 

I'm pretty sure the Gag Gang was a new one for me, along with Patty Cannon. I had to go and read all about her and her Reverse Underground Railroad, she maybe ended up committing suicide.

 

"You traded the freedom of your neighbors for information on your children?" Raymond asked angrily.

Bea's voice was cold. "Yes, and until you have children of your own, do not be so quick to judge me. I may be a stupid old woman, but leaving my children behind choked my heart everyday for thirty years. I needed to know what had happened to them. Lem told me they were alive but wouldn't say where until I aided him."

 

Well, we learned the traitor was Bea and I had such mixed feelings about that. I loved this discussion because of the grey area, I'm not a fan of such all good and all bad characters. People are always so quick to judge others on choices they've never had to make. I think having Bea be the traitor also kept away any cheesy moments. 

 

A well-known Road conductor, Deacon Theron Trowbridge of the Congregational Church of Denmark, Iowa, invented the hushpuppies. The deacon would heavily spice corn dodgers with strychnine and then feed them to the bloodhounds of slave catchers who tracked fugitives to his station. He was known to say that the only good bloodhound was a dead one.

 

I flipped when I read this, I had no idea my little innocent hushpuppies had such a horrible beginning. I did a quick research of this and from what I found, not a lot attributes this to hushpuppies origins, again a quick research. The only thing I found talking about this was http://www.mississippivalleypublishing.com/daily_gate/news/denmark-had-safe-stop-for-northbound-runaway-slaves/article_9f98a97d-71b0-5818-997f-ca51872c4dc4.html  

All I know is that hushpuppies feel macabre to me now :/

 

Where would Hester be had there not been a Katherine Wyatt? Would she be duping and kidnapping her neighbors?

 

This was one of the more powerful lines of the story for me, because again, Jenkins is taking out the easy good and bad and giving us depth and context. It's easy to hate Jenine but who knows who you would be with the choices she had. I'm not saying it wipes away all her actions but understanding, if not forgiveness, is a thought that could be used more often. 

 

Hester's eyes widened. "You sent Shoe to slavery?"

Raymond nodded without apology. "I thought it would be a nice tribute to all those he sent south. Maybe now he will recognize the value of freedom and understand how truly precious it is."

 

Oh my god, the sweet justice of this! One of the more satisfactory ends given to a villain.

 

Galen finding her mother, ok, so it was completely serendipitous but I can get behind this kind of fairy tale additive, was such a lovely ending. 

 

Bullwhip Days is a nonfictional compilation of the remembrances of former slaves. The Wyatt reference is one of the most startling pieces of information I have come across in my research, and it left me both fascinated and disturbed. (Can you imagine selling yourself into slavery for love?

 

In the author's note at the end, Jenkins lets it be known that her plot of Hester's father selling himself into slavery for her mother was based on a true story. I can't even imagine. I'm also going to have to get my hands on a copy of Bullwhip Days. 

 

Also, at the end of my copy, there was a recipe for Indigo Mud Pie. !!!! I was simultaneously excited and bummed, I wish I had known it was there so I could have made it while I was reading the story. I did jot down the recipe though, I'll definitely make it in the future :)

 

 

I've read a couple other Jenkins' books, this was my favorite. I loved all the historical references, tidbits, and weaving in that she did; I can't even tell how many hours I spent learning about people, places, and events she included. Galen was a roguish character that I probably let his charm get him off the hook, he was pushy and I wasn't a fan of how he forced Hester into finally agreeing to marry him. Hester was an amazing heroine, strong, soft, smart, and willing to give as good as she got. I enjoyed their banter in the beginning and could see how they fit together in the end. 

I would say the only way this shows its age is in the sex scenes. While I liked how penetrative sex wasn't their immediately go to, the wording in sex scenes was a bit flowery for me. 

The world building and secondary characters were amazing and I can't even tell you all the side characters I wish had their own stories or novellas. 

This is a must read for historical romance readers, the history woven in is what we all come for and Hester and Galen were strong, sweet, and loving. 

 

 

Previous updates:

 

Prologue - Ch 4

 

Chs 5-10

 

Chs 11-16

 

 

 

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review 2019-05-01 05:36
Thoughts: Indigo
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

Indigo

by Beverly Jenkins

 

 

As a child Hester Wyatt escaped slavery, but now the dark skinned beauty is a dedicated member of Michigan's Underground railroad, offering other runaways a chance at the freedom she has learned to love.  When one of her fellow conductors brings her an injured man to hide, Hester doesn't hesitate even after she is told about the price on his head.  The man in question is the great conductor known as the "Black Daniel" a vital member of the North's Underground railroad network, but Hester finds him so rude and arrogant, she begins to question her vow to hide him.

When the injured and beaten Galen Vachon, aka, the Black Daniel awakens in Hester's cellar, he is unprepared for the feisty young conductor providing his care.  As a member of one of the wealthiest free Black families in New Orleans, Galen has turned his back on the lavish living he is accustomed to in order to provide freedom to those enslaved in the south.  However, as he heals he cannot turn his back on Hester Wyatt.  Her innocence fills him like a breath of fresh air and he is determined to make her his, but traitors have to be found, slave catchers have to be routed and Hester's refusal to trust her own heart have to be overcome before she and Galen can find the freedom only love can bring.



I'm finding that I'm kind of an outlier in my reaction to this book, not quite as enamored with it as everyone else.  And for that, I'm feeling a bit conflicted.  Because, on the one hand, Indigo was written well, with a wonderful premise and an amazingly created heroine.  Even some of the side characters were brought to life, and I feel like Ms. Bev did a great job showing us the times and reality of slavery during this era in American history.  She doesn't sugar coat anything, and gives depth to how terribly cruel slavery truly was--not that we didn't already know, but it's great that she simply lays it all out there.

Hester's history is a heavy one, and I found her little flashback of the moment in which she and her childhood friend Ella learned the harsh truth of their reality to be quite heartbreaking.  This is a heroine you love to root for, because she's level-headed, resourceful, and has no trouble standing up for herself.  I loved her sarcastic returns to Galen in the beginning while he was still healing and being super surly about his situation.  I rooted for her big time when she faced down the nasty Ezra Shoe and his men with nothing but a rifle and her own gumption.

I wished she'd have given Foster more of a verbal thrashing after the way he treated her throughout the book.  But nonetheless, she wasn't too meek to throw him off her property when he got to be a general jackass.

My only quibble with Hester was that she might have been too created to be too innocent and too perfect, which is quite typical of a lot of romance novel heroines, so I didn't dwell on that for too long.

Meanwhile, in the same turn, I'm not sure that the romance between Hester and Galen really worked all that well for me--specifically the courting phase of the relationship.  The married phase of their romance was a bit more fun, in terms of flirty barbs and witty banter, but otherwise, I felt that the romance itself was rather too cookie cutter for my liking.  And I never really warmed to Galen, having not been able to get past the scene wherein he sneaks into Hester's bedroom at night while she's sleeping and watches her without her knowledge--this kind of behavior is a hundred percent NOT OKAY in my book.  And his advances come on rather too strong, and I'm not sure how I felt about the whole lavish gifts scenario that came across like a typical Cinderella story after we find out how wealthy Galen is and how he can afford pretty much everything in the world.  I'm afraid it made it hard for me to appreciate all of his other, more charming behaviors and attributes in the latter parts of the book.

Truth be told, the story starts out very strong, with the hiding of the Black Daniel, and the anxiousness you felt for Hester as slave catchers entered into the picture, searching her home, and lobbing threats and insults at her.  The talk of a traitor amidst the Conductors in Whittaker was a great way to start off the book, and I found it kept me intrigued, just wanting to know what Galen and Hester would end up finding out.

But after Galen heals up and leaves Hester's care, I feel like the story kind of plateaus from there, becoming more romance... which this book is, first and foremost anyway, so I don't know why I'm complaining.  Probably because, as a romance, it doesn't really stand out much, nor satisfy my own expectations.  I guess I just wished there'd been more about the Underground, and Hester's part in it.  And even the investigation of the traitor kind of gets set aside for a while.  The ending picks up a bit in terms of action and the final reveal to the traitor--which I found rather more complex than I'd predicted, but in a good way.

In the end, I found that I was much more interested in all the little history lessons that Ms. Bev peppers into the story throughout than I was in the outcome of Hester's and Galen's romancing.  The little news snippets about different activities and movements of the abolitionists, as well as prominent figures of the Road were quite educational, being the parts that I enjoyed the most out of this book.  Although, I will admit that the ending info dumps about John Brown and Harper's Ferry felt a bit awkward in terms of narrative.

Overall, this was still a very enjoyable read, and I will definitely be looking into more works by Beverly Jenkins.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/04/thoughts-indigo.html
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review 2019-04-28 18:51
Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

As there was a recent buddy read of this a lot of people have described the plot, so I won’t go into it much, other than to say the protagonist is Hester, who helps out people who have escaped slavery. At the beginning of the novel she meets and helps Galen, who henceforth becomes an integral part of her life. The story focuses on their developing relationship while dealing with many of the issues that impacted people in the early 1800’s.

 

Hester was a great character who gave selflessly. She never put herself first if it could at all be helped and dedicated her life to others. My only criticism of her is that she was too perfect. Apart from pre-marital sex, (which due to the time-period the novel was set in would have been very much frowned on), there was nothing. She read as very literal and real, but I would have liked a little more to her character to identify with. Galen was a pretty solid character, if a little much at times. One problem that kept coming up for me was the frequency of the sexual scenes. While this helped build the tension between the pair before their relationship took off, I found it really stilted things after. I found myself repetitively groaning and wishing something more substantial would come along to add to the depth of the story.

 

When I got to the 75% mark I felt that the novel was essentially all wrapped up and couldn’t understand why there were another 50 plus pages. I skimmed quite a bit at this point until I got to 85-90% when things started to take off again. This part of the novel was excellent and I really enjoyed it. I just wish it had been structured better in entirety, instead of much meat being left until the bitter end.

 

All-in-all an enjoyable read that was well researched and added to my knowledge of the time period

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text 2019-04-27 22:46
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

So, I finally finished it. I read that quickly, didn't I!? I enjoyed it. Full review tomorrow when I plan to fully catch-up with everything Booklikes.

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text 2019-04-27 16:19
Chs 11-16
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I've been so incredibly busy, about 70% in now and hoping to finish this up before GOT on Sunday :)

 

Chs 11-16 talk............................................................................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought this section had a lot of sexual scenes, they were good and I liked how it didn't immediately go to penetrative sex but my eyes wanted to glaze over a couple times. This is probably where I thought the story showed its age the most, the purple prose sexual scenes really stood out. 

 

He was dressed in a coat of indigo velvet.

 

Oh man, I live for lines like this! It ties in the title which I always nerd-ly like and is a seemingly innocuous heart growing moment. Definitely a showing moment instead of telling of how important Hester is to Galen. Loved it. 

 

"Traitors can be anyone: mothers, fathers, individuals you may know and love. I went to prison because I was betrayed by the husband of a woman I tried to help escape."

"He didn't want to join her?"

"No. He thought his first loyalty was to his master and it outweighed all else. He found his wife's desire for freedom dishonorable."

"'Tis slavery that's dishonorable."

"Well, he didn't view it that way."

 

Another telling moment from Jenkins. I feel like this was a foreshadowing moment and a clue that the traitor could be someone close to Hester. 

 

During the War of 1812, Free Black brigades played a pivotal role in Andrew Jackson's victory at Chalmette. In December of 1814, Jackson issued a proclamation thanking them for their service to the nation during its time of need. His words on that day were now a treasured part of the race's history. During Hester's school years Jackson's proclamation had been routinely assigned as a memorization piece.

 

Even though I am busy, looking up and reading about all the historical moments is making this go pretty slow. This is Jackson we're talking about, so obviously there's no gushing going to happen but reading the proclamation, which if I have before, I didn't remember was interesting. 

 

"But we're not in the South," Hester interrupted coldly. "You're in the North where cold weather makes free Blacks insane. Isn't that what you were taught? Shall I demonstrate just how crazy I am?" she tossed out bitterly.

 

Again, Hester giving as good as she gets, love it. 

 

They were the men who believed the awful myths about the women of the race, myths that left women like herself vulnerable to attack anytime and anywhere, myths that slanderously labeled Black women as voracious in pursuit of the vices of the flesh and willing to accommodate anyone to satisfy their carnal cravings.

 

Another line still resonating very strongly today and proving that for as long as people want to try and make enslavement a thing of the past, the issues radiating from it still impact and linger today. 

 

Foster seemed to be transfixed by the sight of the bag in the sheriff’s hand.

 

Is this a clue??? Is Foster the traitor????

 

"Then turnabout is only fair play. All the brokenhearted women you've left in your wake are probably elated knowing you are being put through your paces."

"You're undoubtedly correct, but my day is coming, petite, very soon."

"Is that a threat I hear?" she asked saucily.

"No, baby girl, a promise."

 

Another rogue alert! Lol. 

 

"I want you like no other woman before, Miss Hester Wyatt, but I'll not force you, nor will I press. You are to let me know if and when you are ready."

 

Whoo-hoo, look at that a rogue who understands consent issues. I do side-eye Galen at times for how he pushes Hester to me with him and this is another example of I can struggle with some things in romance novels. If a guy acted like this in the real world, I'd be like "Dude, take a hint and leave her alone." but in a romance novel I know they are going to end up in love together and Hester does like him but is scared. I have such problems trying to articulate why I think Galen in a romance novel is acceptable but in real life wouldn't be.

 

Had Mary really loved her master? He seemed to harbor very strong feelings for her, yet he evidently lacked the ability to see the world through her eyes. Her sons had been her children, but to him they'd been chattel.

 

Red hot book club meeting topic to discuss. A moment that, I feel, the author is trying to put across about consent issues and how Mary isn't free and therefore can never be choosing her master to love. Just because her master seems to care for her doesn't mean she cares for him. Power dynamics and such, a lot to unpack in this brief moment in the book and there is a little part of me shocked and a whole big part of me ecstatic that Jenkins editors kept that in there because Jenkins is saying a whole heck of a lot with this moment. 

 

 

 

This section started to really give me Courtney Milan vibes and I would say I think her work is influenced by Jenkins, the feel and themes. I felt a bit off with how Galen seemed to force Hester's hand with his wedding proposal, maybe less sexual scenes and more introspective moments from Hester about her softening or wanting to marry Galen, I'm not sure I saw enough progress from her to be ok with how Galen strong armed her here; didn't; completely feel this was something she wanted to do quite yet. 

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