By Maureen Lee Lenker
February 10, 2021 at 10:30 AM EST

Legendary romance author Beverly Jenkins surprised even herself by writing her first-ever "cinnamon roll" hero, Garrett McCray.

"I didn't know he was going to be that competent in the bedroom," she laughs while chatting with EW about her new release Wild Rain. "That surprised me. It surprised [my heroine] too."

Jenkins is known for her sweeping historical romance novels that span everywhere from the Western frontier to Reconstruction New Orleans. She writes strong women and the even stronger men who love them, but for her newest book in her Women Who Dare series she decided it was time for something a little bit different for her prickly heroine Spring Rain.

"Knowing that she was all barbed wire and sharp edges, it didn't make sense to put with her somebody as A-personality as herself," Jenkins explains. "He just sort of showed up [in my head], and there he was with his books and all his questions and secure enough in himself to be able to step back and let her lead, but not in a way that diminished him in any way."

Wild Rain is the newest in Jenkins' decades-spanning, trailblazing career writing historical romance. It returns readers to the Lee family, featured in her Old West series, focusing on independent ranch owner Spring Lee and journalist Garrett McCray. When Garrett travels west to interview Spring's brother, Dr. Colton Lee, he's immediately fascinated by Spring and a bond forms between them.

Credit: Sandra Vander Schaaf; HarperCollins

Jenkins sat down with EW to talk about the new novel, her fascination with the Old West, and her love of obsessive research that allows her to introduce her readers to previously undiscovered history, particularly that of people of color.

But Wild Rain isn't the only exciting new thing on Jenkins' horizon. Her novel Forbidden was previously optioned by Sony Television as part of a first look deal they have with The Ripped Bodice bookstore, and the recent success of Bridgerton makes her hopeful it will spur some movement on the development side.

"Optioning and making are two different things. We'll keep our fingers crossed that it actually does happen. But they're in California, so COVID has put everything on hold," she says. "I have no updates. I do know the showrunner has approached a company that seems very excited about it and wanted her to do a second draft for the pilot. We'll keep our fingers crossed, and see what happens. Yes, Bridgerton will hopefully open the door for lots of romance. Hollywood, we have the content. Just give us a call."

Wild Rain is on shelves now. Watch the video above for more.

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