I feel oddly spoiled that I have had a really good streak with books so far this year. And Tempest just continued the pattern with its beautifully strong and complicated main characters and heartfelt love story. And now, I'm suffering from a good book hangover and off to read a mystery just so that I don’t lose that good romance buzz.
Tempest is the story of Regan, a strong and independent woman, who has decided to become a mail-order bride because none of the men at home have made her want to marry them. She corresponds with Colton, a widower and doctor in Wyoming, and they agree that she should visit to see if they will fit. However, she shoots him after men have tried to hold up the stagecoach. And he’s grumpy and set in his ways, while she’s also set in her ways, but they are fearless and daring ways. Regan brings life and vivacity back to Anna, Colton’s daughter, and the family becomes closer and closer.
Reading Jenkins, you expect to read about people finding a community to that embraces them, and Tempest is no different. Regan is a woman who has her own expectations for herself that fail to match what the world expects; however, instead of rejecting someone with Regan’s independence, the small town in Wyoming welcomes her for demanding more and better. Her new husband, Colton, is not exactly welcoming to the idea of someone as independent and open-minded as Regan. Over the course of the book, he has to learn to abandon his idea that wives should be delicate and obliging, especially as his feelings for Regan grow. Part of this journey for him is through sex because their desire for each other is so wholly unexpected to him.
But let’s talk about Regan, who is amazing. First, she enjoys sex and is not silent on that front. She’s open about a past relationship and also what she enjoys. Second, she acts as a balm for many in the town, letting them feel appreciated and seen. Third, Regan’s mission in life seems to become making Anna happy. She encourages Colton’s daughter to be a child and to have friends. After years under the oppression of her great aunt (Colton’s dead wife’s aunt, I think), Anna has to unlearn all those rules she has been taught and truly blossoms with the affection Regan offers her. Then, there’s Colton’s sister, Spring, who has spent years somewhat exiled from her family because of things she did when she was young and vulnerable. In Regan, Spring finds someone who understands her past and doesn’t judge her for it, and also someone who welcomes Spring back into the family without pause.
There are some heavier subplots in the book, but I feel like when the villain isn’t obvious, you are also 95% certain who it is. On a couple of occasions, someone shoots at Regan for reasons that aren’t truly known until the end of the book. A woman in town, who expected to marry Colton, seems to make life Hell for Regan, but is also harboring a secret. And Tempest does not shy away from the fact that Regan and Colton live in a world plagued by racism.
I am not going to pretend that I’m not already a big fan of Jenkins, but I think Tempest might be my favorite of her books. Regan is so well-drawn and alive. The transformation Colton undergoes is challenging and perfect.
(Please know that there are spoilers in this section; however, some of these things could be important to know. If you need more information, please find me on Twitter and send me a DM)
widower, gunshot wounds, racism towards Black and Chinese people, scenes and descriptions of the Rock Springs massacre (1885), a child is kidnapped, a child (tertiary character) dies, a child witnesses a murder, sex work