Is there a law that a romance heroine must be either English, American, Scottish, or Irish? I was born in California to a Hispanic father and an Anglo mother. My childhood was blessed with influences of several cultures. Later, I married a true Oklahoman and learned all about the Sooner Spirit. The Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 sounded like a great backdrop for a romantic adventure. Who would be a good heroine?
My Gramma Rose came to mind. As she tried to teach me to sew, knit, and cook, she shared stories of her childhood. They stayed with me longer than the lessons. She fondly remembered her early years in Mexico as the privileged daughter of a doctor. Those halcyon days ended abruptly to violence and death. As a teenager, she became an immigrant in the US, living with her brother in Colorado. Treated more as a servant, than a family member, she made choices to be liberated from a demeaning situation. Gramma Rose carried dignity around her like a cloak. Despite a lack of education, language barriers, and cultural bias, she moved forward and took risks for a better future. I once asked her how she had the courage to leave Colorado for the unknown in California. She shrugged and smiled, “Loco.”
She wasn’t loco. She was smart, clever, and courageous. Definitely heroine material. PROUD HEART is entirely fictional and set in a time period before my grandmother was born. But, the hearty souls who made a run into the Unassigned Lands might have included a strong-willed Latina very much like Rosa Dominguez, my proud-hearted grandmother.