Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Nothing makes me happier and excited than to go back to Rivers Wilde, the fictional home of some of Dylan Allen’s best characters. When you return to Rivers Wilde, there are three guarantees: a compelling story, an epic romance that burns the page, and human truth that challenges your thinking. Each and every time, Allen takes her readers on a journey of a 1000 sighs, tears, and smiles. And her newest book, The Jezebel exemplifies this beautifully.
In looking at The Legacy, The Legend, and The Jezebel, it is impossible to choose a favorite because they each hold a specific character and voice that feels necessary. In true, Allen fashion The Jezebel is special. You might say, “well, why, Professor A?” The answer is quite simple: the female experience through history is underscored and challenged on each page. And this includes all women. This book is a scion for “herstory” in the romance community. In other words, this book is pro-woman. That’s right. The Jezebel is PRO-WOMAN. Why is that important? Because the world outside of romance demeans the existence of romance. They infantilize it to $ex. They don’t recognize the autonomy, authority, and agency of the feminine spirit in romance. They reduce it to actions. In The Jezebel, Allen centers her epic romance in the belief that women’s history must be heard, that the history we’ve been taught reduces women to objects, and that this same history fails to represent the truth of history, filtering the experiences through the specter of maleness. Time and time again, from its title to her story, Allen offers a rallying cry that the beginning of empowering women starts with giving them their due in the historical annals of time. If you read this story and miss this message, then you are missing out on Allen’s temerity as a writer.
Added to this is a romance for the ages. Honestly, Allen’s writing voice is grounded in large, sweeping romances. If you’ve read her books, then you know that the beginning, middle, and end of a romance feels necessary. When you choose to read The Jezebel, you must know that Allen is going to take you on a journey where you will fall deeply in love with her characters. Stone and Regan’s characterizations are done so tastefully and carefully that, as the book ends, you mourn the end of The Jezebel. You simply want more of their story because Allen has allowed you entrance to their beginning, their middle, and the start of their future. As such, you want more of her description, narration, and story-building. As characters, Regan is my favorite (I love Stone for his tenacity. Boy, does this hunk of a man love hard!) because she is the ultimate illustration of Allen’s message about women. One of my favorite stories in my study of American Literature is The Scarlet Letter (a sister story to the story of Jezebel). Hester Prynne is demonized and exiled from society. Yet, she proudly wears that badge even though the consequences are heavy on her, and she must carry it alone when her lover fails to acknowledge his role. Hester Prynne is stalwart, humble, and willing to bear her punishment with grace. In The Jezebel, Regan is a modern-day Hester Prynne. She too is stalwart, humble, and willing to bear her punishment at the expense of her own happiness, and this sacrifice invests you in her character. You want to scream at Regan to push back, but she maintains her sense of self through her challenges. You can’t help but admire the type of woman that Allen has created in The Jezebel even if she hides it behind her carefully-constructed walls.
And with a heroine whose experiences have left her with strong boundaries and the resignation of forgoing her own personal happiness, Allen had to craft a hero such as Stone. Interestingly, Stone is younger than Regan. While this is a reverse age-gap romance, Allen is so careful to create their romance. Nothing feels untoward. Instead, these two feel destined for each other from the beginning. Stone has a resolve and a maturity so early on that it’s believable that these two should end up together. Allen’s care in intertwining Stone and Regan is impressive. Then, she writes Stone as a hero who can stand with her other alpha-heroes: Hayes and Remi. Neither of these two overshadows Stone, which again points to Allen’s ability to construct believable characters.
When I finished Dylan Allen’s The Jezebel, I felt both satiated and hungry. Those seem as odds obviously. I knew that Allen had weaved her magic once again in creating a gripping, sweeping tale of romance in one of my favorite imaginative places, Rivers Wilde, but I was hungry for more of Stone and Regan. I still have so many more questions for their future which I hope her bonus epilogue might slake. Needless to say, Allen’s newest romance feels necessary in the world of romance. The more times we allow women’s voices to be heard and acknowledged, all women, the more we can change attitudes about their treatment in society. We are far from equality; we are far from having a place; and we are far from being protected from patriarchal attitudes that deride the power of women. Allen takes a leap and reminds us that every romance is an opportunity to give women their place, their presence, and their purpose. The Jezebel is a must-read romance.
In love and romance,