October ushers in the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, and I’m going to get a bit into some feels.
Diversity within Hispanic Cultures
I’m of Haitian descent and have spent most of my life living in South Florida. As a child, I recognized that “Hispanic” was a confusing, blanket of a word, meant to capture the vast and myriad cultures represented by people who came from, or were descended from South and Central America. In truth, the term kind of irks me because it almost dulls the vibrancy of a person’s history, culture and voice. There is a richness there that can easily be lost, but as I learned at an early age, literature can be a trumpet blast in an unruly crowd.
With the written word, many Hispanic authors have etched the landscape of their cultures, both old and new, for others to see. From Mexican author Octavio Paz’s Labyrinth of Solitude to Dominican Republic author Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, readers are able to “see and hear” authentic voices within different Hispanic cultures. I think that is extremely important for any culture or nationality. Here at RNIC, we constantly discuss the need for diversity in fiction. This call to action isn’t just to add more color to the current publishing palette, but to include all voices in the stories of our past, present and future.
Of Romance and Tele-Novellas
In South Florida when you hear the term, novella, you don’t immediately think of books. For me the term always referred to seriously addicting Spanish language soap operas. And when I say addicting, I mean addicting. I don’t even speak Spanish well and I became addicted to the telenovela El Clon, my junior year of college (Jade & Lucas FOREVER!). Throw in the hot cowboys of Pasion de Gavilanes and I was hooked. What can I say? I’ve always been a romance junkie. Like many women of color, for a long time I’d assumed that, watching these shows was the best of my limited options to see people of color (I hadn’t started in on my interwebs obsession yet). Then one day I was thumbing through some books at my local second hand book store and noticed a slight shift. A gleaming light was shining down on a book titled “Now and Always (Para Siempre)” by Caridad Scordato. The title of the book was nothing extraordinary, but the imprint for the book was. Encanto.
For several years beginning in 1999 Kensington had a romance imprint, Encanto, specifically targeted towards Hispanic readers. Many of the books themselves were available in both Spanish and English. Every reader has their own little epiphany moments. For me it was standing there in that book store looking down at that book and realizing that the trumpeters had finally gathered other players and formed a full-fledged band. I was later sad to learn that Encanto had already been discontinued by the time I found the imprint, but the authors writing for them did not disappear. They went on to write, and then write some more, and inspire other writers within their own cultures and out, of all races and ethnicities to do the same—to create characters that overcame heartache, found love and most importantly, deserved love.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to Hispanic authors, nor can it be said that one specific group has done more than another. It is a continued struggle amongst many groups to have their voices heard, their presence acknowledged, and documented in the tapestry of this world. Specifically within romance, it’s important to not “white-wash” happiness—to have heroes and heroines that reflect the truth that love is indeed blind, and not limited to one color, race, religion or culture.
So today we give a shout out to all the awesome Hispanic romance authors who have given readers around the world, happy endings they sometimes thought they would never be a part of.
Throughout this month I encourage you to explore different Hispanic authors and the voices they bring to their stories. Take the journey from Cuba to Argentina, just as easily as you would one from Chicago to New York.
Some Recommended Reads
He was the best in the business and Sadie Locke refused to settle for the protection of anyone other than Patricio Rodriguez. She was being stalked by a madman who wouldn’t rest until he’d succeeded in frightening her to death. And she was afraid he just might win….
AND THE BODYGUARD
His past prevented him from letting anyone in; his future was too unpredictable for him to fall for his famous client. Besides, Patricio had learned long ago that nothing good came from mixing business with pleasure. But the look in Sadie’s eyes tempted him to make the same mistake twice, damn the consequences.
She never thought she’d fall in love with a dead man…
But FBI Agent Diana Reyes couldn’t resist sexy Southern vampire Ryder Latimer. After years of fighting the good fight together, it’s time for the happily-ever-after, but life just isn’t fair. Diana is expecting, but the pregnancy is taking a toll on her precarious health. To save the baby and Diana, she and Ryder must make a most difficult choice: turn Diana into a vampire or risk losing both her and the baby. Only to do that, Ryder risks the wrath of being sanctioned by the Slayer Council.
A danger from the past will force her to choose duty over friends and her lover…
Dhampir Michaela Ramirez’s position on the Slayer Council is fragile at best, but buoyed by the support of newfound vampire friends and her lover, FBI Director Jesus Hernandez, Michaela is moving away from her quest to find the vampire who sired her and killed her mother. But that past will soon come to haunt her and force her to choose between the lover who fulfills her and the friends who helped save her life in order to have justice for her mother and the Slayer Council.
Ryder Latimer lived without love for centuries and can’t imagine doing it again…
Ryder’s immortal life was empty until Diana Reyes charged into it. Now she is his wife and expecting his child, something he never thought possible. He would do anything to save them, including risking his own life in a fight against the Slayer Council and the vampire who wants to see Michaela dead.
The only thing naughtier than a bad boy is a good girl…
Amara Maria Robles is a good girl. So good that she gave up her dreams of becoming a renowned pastry chef to help her parents with their struggling Mexican bakery. Yet her parents reject any changes she suggests, and refuse to sell her mouth-watering confections. Clearly being a good girl isn’t paying off. So when her brother’s sexy ex-best friend walks into the bakery, Amara’s tempted to be very bad indeed…
After a scandal twelve years ago, resident bad boy Eric Valencia has returned to make things right with his family and friends. One glance at Amara and her wicked curves, however, and Eric finds himself thinking about how she’d feel beneath him-something he promised Amara’s brother he would never think about, let alone do.
But this bad boy is in deep trouble…because Amara’s determined to have her cake, and Eric, too.
Alyssa Moran is tired of being the old cat lady with no man. She has very specific needs and goes to visit Mrs. Wilder at the Paranormal Dating Agency. Shockingly enough, she is promised a man who likes cats, wants kids, likes curves and will be wild in bed.
Grayson Green needs a mate. Fast. But he refuses to be pushed into anything. That is, until a curvy funny woman shows up in his territory saying she’s there for him. Who is he to argue when someone as delectable as Alyssa decides she wants to give herself to him?
Of course, not all is at it seems and some people want Alyssa gone and Gray dead. If Gray mates, the future of his pride will be sealed and no one can argue his place as leader. Unless it can be stopped before they ever get a chance to make some cubs. He will have to work hard at convincing a human she’s the only one for him or lose his pride and his mate.
Laurel Cremant is an opinionated author and reader of romance with a wicked sense of humor. RNIC was smart (or crazy) to bring her on as a blogger. Come back on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month to get her romance industry news…with a colorful twist.