My very first romance novel was Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe, an old Harlequin Presents title. It starred a naïve British girl and an arrogant Argentinian cattle rancher. She had come to Argentina for a dancing job and instead found herself facing the possibility of working at a less savory profession. He had to be married in the next three days in order to inherit some land. The two make a bargain to marry without love but at some point – well, I’m sure you know what happens from there.
So it’s no exaggeration to say that romances with Hispanic characters have always been a part of my reading, even if some were drawn in somewhat stereotypical fashion. For many years Harlequin was my primary source. Along with novels by Kay Thorpe there were literally dozens of others published every year by authors like Anne Mather, Kim Lawrence, and Lynne Graham. As I began reading single titles, these characters stayed with me. From older books like Judith McNaught’s Tender Triumph to newer books like Regina Jennings’ Sixty Acres and a Bride, I’ve been able to enjoy excellent novels that celebrate the diverse cultures that make up the Latin American world.
My experience has been that the vast majority of books I find featuring Hispanic characters are contemporaries. One notable exception is Carla Kelly’s excellent Daughter of Fortune. In this richly detailed historical, Maria Espinoza meets Diego Masferrer when he rescues her from an Apache attack. Diego and Maria begin a tentative dance towards love. AAR has a review of the novel here. Some readers may want to be aware that the book contains graphic violence but it is a fantastic look at the settling of the Southwest. I couldn’t mention Hispanic characters without putting a plug in for this book. Kelly combines her outstanding writing talents with an amazing knowledge of her subject matter to deliver a unique and riveting tale.
I had already read several novels this year that would meet the requirements for this blog but I wanted to expand my horizons a bit and look for several novels written by Hispanic authors, as opposed to just revolving around Hispanic characters. The first author I found was Tracy Montoya. Back in 1999, Kensington started a line of romance novels aimed at Hispanic readers. Unfortunately, Encanto was dissolved in 2001 but several of the authors went on to publish under other imprints, Montoya among them. Her 2008 Harlequin Intrigue I’ll Be Watching You is one of the books I read specifically for the challenge.
So, what’s it about? Her fiancée had been murdered chasing down a serial killer and in some ways, Adriana (Addy) Torres had died with him. Nothing in her life or their shared home has changed since that horrific day. It is as though she is waiting for him to walk back through her door. Detective Daniel Cardenas has thought of Addy often throughout the years. But he has heeded the invisible no trespassing sign she has kept firmly around herself, until he receives news that the man who killed her fiancée may very well be back. At the very least, the police know there is a copy cat now “working” in the area. Fearful that her history will make Addy a target and determined to protect her from further harm, Daniel begins to do guard duty, watching over her as she goes about her daily routine. Daniel starts to lose his heart to Addy, but the haunted Addy doesn’t know whether she can move on or will remain living in the past.
Ms. Montoya let the culture of her two protagonists flavor the story without obvious cultural lectures, and the emphasis remained on the mystery, just as it should be. While this little gem of a tale is no longer available in paperback, it is available for Kindle. I would recommend it to any suspense fan looking for a short story with a lot of punch.
Caridad Piñeiro is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She brings Hispanic characters and their culture into the current paranormal market. She is also one of the authors that helped launch the Encanto line. When I first began looking for books with Hispanic characters, her long line of block busters drew my eye. She has several 2012 releases but it was the author’s 2011 release Aztec Gold which kept snagging my attention. I love archeological digs and ancient monsters and this book was just too tempting to resist.
The heroine, Cynthia Guerrera, does not like to leave home. A horrific event in her past has made her fearful of travelling. But when her friend, lover, and fellow archaeologist Rafael Santiago goes missing, Cynthia has to do something. Rafael had trekked into the Mexican jungle in search of one of the fabled Cities of Gold six months ago. Neither he nor any member of his party has been heard from again. When the discovery of an old journal shows new information regarding the area where Rafael disappeared Cynthia determines to follow the path provided in the hope that it will lead her to the man she loves.
When her expedition arrives at a remote village deep in the jungle, Cynthia is excited to find Rafael alive. But excitement soon turns to horror as she learns what happened to his team. And then watches as it begins to happen to hers. Cynthia must stand and fight beside the man she loves before both of them perish, victims to an endless evil. This is a fantastic treasure hunt story with a paranormal twist. I absolutely loved it and would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, sexy, swashbuckling tale.
No blog about Latin-American authors would be complete for me without mentioning Laura Esquivel. Laura burst onto the scene with her magical surrealistic romance Like Water for Chocolate back in the late ‘90’s. Her specialty is thwarted love with a reunion in eternity. Her most recent book is Malinche, a novelization of the real life story of Cortez and his Nahua interpreter. Not an HEA style romance, but still a love story richly detailed in history and the cultures it discusses.
I read one more set of books specifically for this blog. Jill Sorenson first caught my eye back in 2011. Her The Edge of Night received a DIK here. Her follow-up novel Caught in the Act also received a rave review. I was delighted at the idea of finding two melting pot reads right in my own TBR. Since we already have fantastic reviews of the books here at AAR, I will just add my own voice to the praise. Both novels were fantastic, combining that perfect mix of romance and suspense. I felt that Ms. Sorenson did a really great job of portraying her characters and their culture in the tales, and I especially loved the way she tackled the issue of immigration in Caught in the Act.
So now it is your turn. Have you read any of the books I listed? Do you have any favorites of your own to recommend?
– Maggie Boyd