Leela Wilder, a proud and beautiful African-American woman, is caught in the torrent of greed, ambition, and prejudice that turned oil-rich Texas farmlands into wellsprings of fortune in the tumultuous 1920s. Orphaned as a young girl, she makes a good choice by marrying black landowner T.J. Wilder. But her happiness is shattered by his untimely death and by her own irresistible attraction to T.J.’s handsome half-brother.
Left alone with a young son to raise and a 340-acre farm to manage, Leela seeks comfort in the arms of Victor Beaufort, the only black wildcatter in Texas. Beaufort risks everything to win an oil game ruthlessly rigged against him, plunging Leela and himself into a quickening whirlpool of twisted family ties, shocking secrets, and deadly danger. Black Gold rivets with passion and power-and the enduring courage of an unforgettable woman.
This was quite an interesting read, and different from the type of historical books I usually pick up. Nevertheless it was a great read and the story was dynamic and unlike anything I’ve read before.
As a baby Leela loses both her parents and is cared for by her African Grandmother. At the age of 15, Leela’s Grandmother dies and she is sent to live with her Father’s sister and her family. Leela takes to the family immediately but not all members are happy to have her. Leela’s cousin Josephine become increasingly jealous and hateful to her and begins destroying her own life in the process. At the age of 19 Leela meets and marries T.J. Wilder and has a son with him. Eventually she is widowed. With the bank threatening to take her 340-acre farm, Leela seeks the help of wildcatter oil man Victor Beaufort and finds a passion she has never known before. But soon her deceased husband’s brother returns and throws her life in a tail spin wreaking havoc while their mother harbors secrets that may prove to destroy them both.
I loved Leela! In such a volatile and racially charged period, Leela was a strong woman and able to illicit change in her small town. She also found a way to navigate the shady politics and attitudes of men to get things done for the betterment of the community. I loved that she had such strong convictions and didn’t apologize for them. She fought for her family and her farm, and dared to fight for the type of love she always desired.
While her first husband, T.J., didn’t exactly illicit great feelings of desire, I loved him because of his strong work ethic, and the dedication to his family. He made sure his family was provided for and took special interest in Leela and their son. Maybe he didn’t know how to love her in the way she wanted, a result of his childhood, but he loved he in his way. So while T.J. wasn’t exactly a very passionate man, he was definitely someone I could respect.
Victor on the other hand was ambitious and had big dreams of being the first black oil-man in Texas. He manages to convince Leela to let him look for oil on her land. It’s hard not to get swept up in Victor’s ideas and to root for him to conquer all the obstacles and set backs and win he experiences. Unfortunately his pride gets him and Leela in a world of trouble, but I couldn’t help hoping he’d get everything sorted out to his and Leela’s satisfaction.
The minor characters in this book were also well-developed and the antagonists were written so vivdly that I loved to hate them. It’s unfortunate that they remind me of people I know in real life, but that’s also the great thing about them because they are realistic. Carey, Josephine, and Hattie were selfish, inconsiderate users and hustlers and I just wanted them to be dealt with. They did all they could to make those around them as miserable as they were and were intent on ruining Leela.
In Black Gold the author weaves a tell of infinite love, phenomenal gain, and devastating loss. There is a great spirit of love and strength and I really enjoyed this read. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in Historicals or themes of overcoming adversity.
Filed in: Black Fiction, Fiction, Historicals, Reviews, Romance Tags: Anita Richmond Bunkley, Black Fiction, Books, Follow Friday, Historicals, Review, Romance