Note: A Secret Desire by Kaia Danielle was released in February 2018. It’s the second book in Decades: A Journey of African American Romance, a series developed by award-winning author Wayne Adrian Jordan. Sheryl Lister’s Love’s Serenade is the third book in the series and is a March 2018 release. A Delicate Affair by Lindsay Evans launched the series in January 2018. The series, Decades: A Journey of African American Romance, consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade.

Kaia Danielle’s A Secret Desire is set in the 1910s.

Here’s the blurb:

A headstrong widow finds herself in the arms of the one man she shouldn’t want in a 1912 all-black beach resort.

With funds running low, widow Halle Duncan’s only means for survival is to revive her late husband’s abandoned dream: a summer getaway where their people can relax and enjoy themselves, free from the weight of prejudice. An arranged union had forced her to marry young. Now once again, society dictates that she have a man by her side to succeed. But Halle is in no rush to remarry, or even to take a lover — until an old family friend appears to tempt her with forbidden fruit.

Nick Green has been in love with Halle Duncan since he first glimpsed her years ago. Back then, he had no intention of disrespecting his mentor, and she had been his wife. Even after the old man’s death, Nick vowed to keep his distance. But when an unscrupulous land investor threatens to snatch away Halle’s resort, Nick is forced to get closer than even he could have imagined.

Kaia has been interested in the history of African American women in the early 20th century for many years. Following World War I (1914-1919), women experienced a major shift in available opportunities and societal expectations. They began working outside of the home during the war, although “volunteering” would be a more accurate description.

African American women like Kaia’s heroine would have had more social leeway than her white contemporaries. It was rare for African American women of those times not to work. A “good” job held by African American men was never secure as evidenced by President Woodrow Wilson’s order to segregate the federal workforce in 1913. However, in A Secret Desire, even though Halle’s late husband had a successful career, she still found herself penniless upon his death. And because she’d had an arranged marriage at the age of 16, she was not interested in marrying again any time soon. She has a thirst to live independently for once in her life. But can her desire for independence stand up to the appeal of an irresistible young doctor who has a secret desire of his own – to make Halle his woman? Find out in A Secret Desire.

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Sheryl Lister’s Love’s Serenade is set in the 1920s.

Here’s the blurb:

Escaping an arranged marriage, Leigh Jones flees her southern hometown for Harlem’s vibrant jazz scene to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. She finds more than she expected, namely Miles Cooper. The smooth-talking musician walked out on her three years ago, taking her music and her heart with him. Leigh has no intentions of falling for Miles or his charms again, until he tempts her with the one thing she can’t resist: a recording contract. But when her past comes calling, she realizes Miles is the one person who can save her from a man who won’t take no for an answer.

Miles isn’t one for putting down roots or staying in one place for longer than a season. Yet memories of Leigh’s sultry voice, beauty and sass make him long for the life and love he forfeited. Having walked away once but never again, Miles sets out to prove he’s a changed man willing to go to any lengths to protect his woman. He’s determined to show Leigh, one passionate note at a time, that the music they make together will last a lifetime.

As you may imagine, Sheryl’s love of jazz inspired her story. When she was asked to participate in the Decades series, she chose Harlem in the 1920s. During that time, Harlem rose as a focal point for this new sound and helped create a shift in African American culture. Jazz broke the rules of music by favoring improvisation over composition. What moves Sheryl is the sound. As she explains, “In all its elements, jazz is about the freedom of expression, telling the authentic story of our life’s journey through slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow and beyond. Just like no one person’s journey is the same, each piece of music has its own fingerprint.”

The same can be said about the hero and heroine in Sheryl’s story. Both tell their stories, Leigh from the lyrics she belts out from her soul, and Miles from the notes he plays as his fingers float over the piano keys. But it’s the melody that they create together—the music of their hearts—that they have to find. Read how they discover that melody in Love’s Serenade.

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Next month, we’ll discuss the 1930s and Suzette Harrison’s The Art of Love, available for pre-order now.

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