Red sweatshirts, tailgate parties, Badger mania, beautiful lake Mendota, State Street, and lots of beer. Some people experienced the University of Wisconsin-Madison this way. Not African American Ph.D. student Maddie Hawkins; her experience is colored by a marathon of deadlines, endless lab hours, competition, neglect, and walking through ill-lit parking lots in the dead of night. Maddie enters the male-dominated field of Plant Breeding to find new genes for disease resistance and to vindicate a daring research hypothesis. She thinks graduate school is a level playing field. She thinks she has what it takes. She is naïve. The political world of academia is a minefield of sexism, racism and egoism. During her three year hurdle-race to get her Ph.D. the disturbing presence of blue-eyed graduate student John Pitts provides the adrenaline. Like an irksome burr, he is everything she disapproves of: a cocky genius, an individualist and a total party animal. On the other hand Craig Berry, the president of the Black Student Caucus, is a fine, righteous brother. The characters in their world are the professors, both the feudal and the enlightened; the grad students, messed up and die-hard, and “the system,” entrenched yet evolving. The heart leads where reason would forbid. This face-off of race, class and even religion threatens a bitter harvest. But “when the fire of love is ablaze” it burns “to ashes The Harvest of Reason.”
“WOW. I mean WOW…I read it in one four-hour sitting! I just could not stand not knowing what was going to happen next… a clear…view of internalized, individual, cultural AND institutional racism all working within a remarkably readable story. (Lynnea Yancy, Evanston, IL)
I loved it. Absolutely loved it…I’m totally drawn into this. The characters are beautifully fleshed out…You’ve carved out some drama out of bean science…My favorite scene is the one in the restaurant when John meets Maddie’s folks. I was hooting away.(Tom Kavelin, San Juan, PR)
Maddie’s growing self-confidence is handled well…It’s like a slow but steady metamorphosis. The same with her racial awareness…writing from [the] heart here…It’s poetry…Sexual tension between John and Maddie done well. (Sandy Kepheart, Monroeville, PA)
“The Harvest of Reason is an intriguing mixture of science, racial politics, academia stultification, gender inequality, love, chastity, and family unity…Ms. Harmsen skillfully opens our eyes to what can be achieved when two people build their lives on a strong foundation of love and a desire for true unity. It engages our interest and commands our respect…Maddie’s credo of wanting her work to be useful, innovative, and to make a difference where it’s most needed gives the story purpose. We want her to win that struggle.” – Adrienne Ellis Reeves, Sacred Ground, Reckless (Arabesque).
“The brilliantly created protagonist Maddie Hawkins is both authentic and insightful, from her plant genetics research and struggles with two-fold discrimination in academia, to her observations on male/female differences and revelations about self-segregation. Because of her integrity and endurance Maddie is an agent for change in the lives of all those she touches, including John Pitts, a brilliant but self-focused fellow student. Far more than a romance, The Harvest of Reason makes its point with wonderful subtlety: diversity is the key to strength and survival in any arena.” – Barbara Miller (AKA Laurel Ames), The Pretender (Pocket Books), Nancy Whiskey (Harlequin Historical)
“In her book Rhea Harmsen states what many people are looking for and can’t find in the present day literary output – something fresh, hopeful and optimistic, yet realistic…The Harvest of Reason is a remarkable book, for it dares to explore issues that run counter to the prevailing culture, and succeeds in making a profound statement…it draws the reader closer to the racism problem than any college textbook. It tackles the gender issue in a sensitive way. Academic politics is exposed. – Nathan Rutstein, Healing Racism in America: A Prescription for the Disease (Whitcomb Pub.)
Caution: This is a juicy tasteful romance, but if you are only looking for erotica do not buy this book.Follow @rheaharmsen