Abbreviations #111: The Vanishing Half, How the Duke Was Won + Destiny's Embrace

December 7, 2020


I don’t read a lot of literary fiction novels, so The Vanishing Half isn’t something that would have been on my TBR were it not for the book club I do with my sisters and cousin. The novel centers around black twin sisters who can pass as being white, a characteristic highly prized in the small town they live in, and who run off as teens in pursuit of lives of their own making. Years later, one of the twins returns with her daughter in tow and having lost contact with her sister, who is now living as a white woman with a daughter of her own. As you may be able to tell, there is a lot to chew on when it comes to discussing The Vanishing Half, especially the themes and the characters. I did find the narrative writing style easy to read, even though it shifts around in timeline and perspective. But the characters were the most compelling part, which works well since this is, in fact, a heavily character-driven story. Each of the women we follow were interesting and complex personalities, and I felt very driven to follow the story to its end. It does feel, however, like a small part of a larger picture, a series of encounters and not a full story (especially with that slightly abrupt and very much open ending that implies these characters might still be living out their lives somewhere), which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But because of Bennett’s gift in detailing character complexities and my general fascination with seeing well-crafted character, I did end up enjoying it more than I could have anticipated. It was really well-done, and I’m happy to report that this highly acclaimed novel was a solid read for me.

The Vanishing Half was released on June 2, 2020 by Riverhead Books.


It’s been a hot minute since I mentioned any new-to-me historical romance authors on this blog! I’m pleased to be sharing my thoughts on How the Duke Was Won, which is the first ever novel I read from author Lenora Bell and it’s definitely not going to be my last. This story centers around James, the Duke of Harland, who requires a proper young lady to be his bride in a purely transactional capacity. He invites a group of eligible young ladies to his estate to meet them and decide which one will suit him best. Enter Charlene, who has been offered a much-needed fortune by her half-sister’s mother to pose as said half-sister Dorothea and woo and win the duke’s hand in marriage. Romance is inevitable when sparks fly between the pair, but will the secrets between them drive them apart? How the Duke Was Won is very much a historical rom-com that falls in the same general area as works from Tessa Dare and Julia Quinn. It has a lot of funny moments, as well as sweet, romantic ones, and I was charmed from start to finish. Like many other romances, the relationship timeline is a little on the shorter side and requires the reader to suspend their disbelief just a touch. But I did enjoy myself, and I definitely intend on continuing on with the series, as well as reading other books from this author! 

How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes #1) was released on April 26, 2016 by Avon.


Beverly Jenkins is another new-to-me historical romance author that I’ve heard excellent things about and finally read a novel from! Destiny’s Embrace is the first in her Destiny series, centering on Mariah Cooper, a young woman who travels West to work as a housekeeper for ranch owner, Logan Yates. As an undeniable attraction forms between them, the pair will need to confront the past before they are able to find their happily ever after. I really enjoyed Destiny’s Embrace! I don’t normally gravitate towards historical romances set in the United States, but I can definitely see myself making an exception for the rest of this series and other works from this author. I enjoyed the family-owned ranch setting, the hilarious hijinks that had me laughing out loud, and the secondary cast of characters that make up Mariah’s newfound community and family in the West. But what really hit the spot for me was the romance. I adored the banter and sexual tension between our main couple, and I definitely got emotional over the parts that were heart-wrenching or swoonworthy. While I did still have to mentally push past the fact that their relationship timeline is barely a week before they are fully committed to one another, I still found myself really rooting for Mariah and Logan to work things out so they could get their happy ending. Destiny’s Embrace was a wonderful first experience with Beverly Jenkins, and I’m looking forward to reading more books from this author.

Destiny's Embrace (Destiny #1) was released on January 29, 2013 by Avon.

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