November is Native American Heritage month. In recognition and celebration, here at RNIC we wanted to discuss and spotlight some Native American romance novels with Native American centric characters.
For additional background on Native American Heritage month, I highly recommend visiting NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov
Historical and … not Historical
When you do a quick search on the internet of the words, “Native American” and “romance”, you get the predictable (and frustrating) result of pages upon pages referencing historical romance novels. You know the ones I’m talking about. The books that were ridiculously popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The covers featured a woman with long flowing hair and a super hot Native American man rescuing/holding/groping her. With these covers floating around, and similar ones still abundant today, it is easy to assume Native American culture and the Native American experience is all about a specific time in history. That, of course, is not true.
There a many Native American romances set in present day, and several in a future far away. What is great about more and more authors of diverse backgrounds writing about diverse characters, is that we get to see a myriad of cultures and histories represented in fiction. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series comes to mind here. The series is urban fantasy/paranormal and the main character has Native American roots and the series itself incorporates a lot of Native American folklore. Lena Hart has a great story in the “For Love and Liberty” anthology titled A Sweet Surrender where the heroine is a black Native American of the Oneida Indian Nation.
The simple truth is that readers shouldn’t assume that in order to read a romance novel with Native American characters, that they are limited to westerns or the typical historical romance.
What NOT to Do…
When I think of novels featuring Native American characters, author Kathleen Eagle immediately comes to mind. Although she’s written several historical romances, a bulk of her book list is contemporary romance. Her characters are well written, authentic and most importantly not stereotyped cliches. What I love about Eagle’s books in particular, is the simple fact that her characters’ backgrounds and ethnic make-up are not written as after thoughts or for titillation.
Contrast Eagle’s writing to someone like Cassie Edwards and we see major differences. I don’t want to turn this post into a a lit paper of how to write people of color. However, I think it’s telling that almost every book title in Edwards’ backlist that includes a Native American hero/heroine has the following following words it them, either singly or in combination: Wild, Savage, or Forbidden. This is a classic face-palm moment in romance publishing history. Referring to Native Americans as “wild” or “savages” is a sweeping “hell no”. I won’t bother explaining why because…well I shouldn’t have to. This author and her publishing company obviously ducked when the magical political correctness and cultural sensitivity wand was waved.
That being said, it is important to recognize that there are many authors who haven’t taken the time to research the diverse history of Native Americans. It is also important to know that there are A LOT of great books out there (that don’t require a trigger warning) for you to enjoy.
Take a look at the recommended reads below and give them a try. And please offer some suggestions! I’m looking for some contemporary reads so speak up! And if they include a millionaire/billionaire I’m all for it 🙂 (I’m going through another mogul phase).
Some Recommended Reads
This Time Forever by Kathleen Eagle
She’d helped convict him of a crime he didn’t commit.
Now she wants his help adopting the son he never knew he had.
Seeking refuge in a world not her own, Susan Ellison follows her conscience to the reservation of the Lakota Sioux, hoping to heal the wounds of her ravaged heart.
Sentenced to life in prison, former rodeo champion Cleve Black Horse seeks freedom and justice.
Two lonely outcasts separated by culture, stubborn pride and prison bars, their destinies are joined by a shared duty to a helpless child — and by the blossoming of a bold and magnificent love that a cruel, intolerant society forbids.
Moon called by Patricia Briggs
Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…
Poisoned Water by RaeLynn Blue
About thirty miles east of the Arizona border, just off Interstate 40, is a heart that beats in time to the ghosts of the west, of the lost, and of the betrayed. A heart that delivers an original, quirky beat all its own. That heart is Nizhoni, New Mexico; a small, dusty town lodged like a spent bullet in the heart of Indian Country. It is a town I know well, for I grew up here, in Nizhoni and it is the place I call home. Fabled for its wide, dry, open spaces, the Southwest truly lives in Nizhoni. Mud-splattered trucks, bull riders and sexy cowboys with their wide-brimmed hats reside among polished local politicians, well-groomed teachers and spotless, luxury SUVs. Here, the ancestors of lore watch over us from the pale, purple plateaus, red mesas, and brown canyons. These ancestors do not always keep us safe.
For Love and Liberty by Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Kate McMurray & Stacey Agdem
FOR LOVE & LIBERTY: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution is an anthology that looks at historical romance through a more colorful lens. Four romance authors have come together to present tales of passion and patriotism that reveal the truly diverse threads that run through the tapestry of American history.
Seduction, Westmoreland Style by Brenda Jackson
Montana horse breeder McKinnon Quinn savored his “no women on my ranch” rule. So when Casey Westmoreland asked for a job training horses, he turned her down flat. For despite her innocent looks, she tempted him beyond reason.
Casey had vowed to get McKinnon to hire her and make him her first—her only—lover. Yet after every steamy encounter, the infuriating man dodged her.
It was as if he had a secret he was desperate to keep… making Casey just as desperate to uncover it.
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.