“A romance in the middle of a really good Western novel.”
– Roundup Magazine
Character Profile: Marco Mondragón
The Spanish brand series was Marco’s story from the beginning, mainly because I “found” him in an obscure footnote in a Spanish borderlands history, which boiled down to this: “In the absence of sufficient law enforcement on the frontier of 18th century New Mexico, a royal colony, the juez de campo [brand inspector] also investigates petty crime.”
In The Double Cross, Marco is a man still bereft, after eight years and the shocking death of his entire family from cholera, while he was away fulfilling his official duties. He is too tired and heartsick to invest himself in finding another wife, which would mean more children, and the pain of possible trauma again. He can’t do it.
Because he is a conscientious man, he remains true to his obligations to the many servants and stockmen on his ranch, the Double Cross. He is afraid to open his heart again, until he meets Paloma Vega, someone who needs his help. When he finally realizes how much he needs her, he’s ready to try again.
All four books follow this dutiful, faithful man through nearly five years of slowly and carefully learning to love again, and slowly and carefully finding a way to nudge the colony toward a peace treaty with their most dangerous neighbors, the Kwahadi Comanche. Time and again he is forced to shove his own fears aside as he leads, cajoles, and at time forcefully moves toward the goal of peace.
Marco is a single-minded man dedicated to God, his colony, his duty to the Crown, his servants, and his second wife. In Paloma Vega he has found the right woman to share his trials and understand his trauma. She has her own fears; he has his. Together they forge a bond as strong as his ties to king, country and God.
Marco is a man of his times. Hardship is all he knows, but he finds solace in his religion. It fuels him when nothing else can. He depends upon Paloma, and later, Toshua, a former Comanche slave who becomes a valuable friend, and a connection to the fierce Kwahadi that he needs, if he is to fulfill the governor’s aim of peace.
Marco’s patient rebuilding of married live, love, children and home is challenged to the breaking point in The Star in the Meadow. He must decide whether to search for his missing wife or go with his Comanche friend to cement a century-long quest for peace. What he will discover is that the workers have been his stewardship through the years have their own code of loyalty.
Marco Mondragon has been a fascinating character to create and write. I’ll miss him and his colonial world.
About Carla Kelly:
THE STAR IN THE MEADOW
by Carla Kelly
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 4
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
“It’s hard for me to even imagine a peaceful room with no one barging in, demanding this and that.”
“I think you can imagine it quite well!” Catalina teased. “Start now by taking a nap.”
Paloma yawned and close her eyes. “I’ll never get to sleep this way,” she murmured, just moments before she did precisely that.
Catalina closed her eyes, too, thinking of years of smarts and slights and rudeness. For some reason she had turned to them for nourishment, letting the sourness of unfair treatment fill her belly. Maybe she lashed out first to keep meanness at bay. She took the idea one logical step forward; it might be time to stop. With a sigh of her own, she relaxed and rested her head against the side of the carriage.
She had no sense of time passing until she felt the spring sun high overhead. But that wasn’t what woke her.
The carriage had come to an abrupt halt. Catalina opened her eyes to see Chato the coachman through the small opening, but only dimly, because the overhang of the carriage roof was in shadow.
The shadow moved and she saw a knife sticking out of Chato’s neck. The shadow moved again and she saw a horseman, the cause of the shadow, beside the carriage now. She put her hand just above Paloma’s mouth and patted her arm.
“Something is happening,” she whispered.
Paloma opened her eyes and her own hand went immediately to her sleeping son in his cradle at her feet. She sat up carefully and sucked in her breath when she saw how the coachman leaned.
Both women clung together when the carriage door slammed open and a bearded man with dead eyes leaned inside. To their astonishment, he opened his mouth wide and his eyes wider and slammed the door shut. They listened to shouts of “Idiot! Fool! A mistake!”
Juanito began to stir and whimper. Paloma picked him up and hastily unbuttoned her camisa, nursing him to keep him silent.
“Eckapeta and I … we train the little ones not to cry,” she whispered, her blue eyes huge in her pale face. “Juanito is too young for such a lesson.” She bowed her head over her child, trying to feed him and protect him at the same time.
The pitiful gesture went straight to Catalina’s heart and shoved back her own fears. She reached for Paloma, as vulnerable now as a woman could ever be, and patted her shoulder.
“I’m going to find out what’s going on,” Catalina whispered, as she wondered at her sudden wellspring of bravery.
With amazing clarity, she knew someone had to protect Paloma and her baby, and there wasn’t anyone else around except her. For years her father had depended on her—perhaps too much—but that was nothing compared to this need, growing stronger by the second, to help someone even more vulnerable.
“I do this for you, Marco,” Catalina whispered under her breath.
– Roses Are Blue Blog
– Patti, Goodreads Reviewer
Other Books by the Author:
– Diane Farr, bestselling author, Regency Romance and Young Adult fiction
– Alexandra Anderson, All About Romance
– RT Reviews
$15 Gift Card (Amazon or Barnes & Noble)
2 x print copy of The Star in the Meadow