Thank you for stopping by today to celebrate the release of The Feria!
I wanted to share some back story behind my book. First and foremost, my character, Soledad is named for my sweet and precious grandmother, who I miss every day. I’m not sure how she’d feel knowing I put her in a romance novel, but either way, I hope she’s proud…
…When I was a little girl, every summer I’d wait on pins and needles to hear the words: The feria is in town. While I had no idea how to measure exactly when it would arrive, I only knew that once school was out for summer, the feria came shortly thereafter. Next to no school, the feria was the next best part of summer.
The feria is a Mexican fair that took place in our sister city, Juarez, Mexico. While we lived in Texas, Mexico was literally only minutes away.
Rides, vendors, foods, dancing, music, treats, and of course, the tapestry of people there made the event unforgettable.
The last year I attended was 2000, when I was a 20-something with the man who would become my husband. Needless to say, just like my character, Soledad, the feria holds very special meaning to me.
About this time last year, I found a photo of two much younger, much more energetic looking people, my then boyfriend and myself, one we took at the feria, and memories began to spark and plug themselves together.
I started jotting things down, and soon after, I was hit with the idea of basing my book on the 40s, and on the trimmings of love found, and love stolen, and the journey to put it all back together. I hope you enjoy the twists and turns as well as the beautiful, tender, and thrilling moments that a love affair can offer.
Here are excerpts from my three favorite scenes in the book… Not because they are nice or pleasant, but because they are three defining moments in Soledad’s life that are integral to the journey she is on. The first is the scene where she is torn away from Xavier, her true love. The second is the realization of what her father has planned for her future. The third is where Soledad finally embraces her impending motherhood, even in spite of the fact that she believes she is carrying her husband’s child. Spoiler alert! But boy is there a surprise there!
“You up for a run?” Xavier asked.
“Well, I’m told that I’m pretty fast,” she said with a smirk.
“Is that a challenge? So a race, then? What if I win?”
“If you win, how will you know if it wasn’t because I let you?”
Soledad paused before answering. “Because you would never disrespect me like that.”
He realized she’d taken the words right out of his head. “That is the genuine truth. So … I guess you’d better start running!” He pecked her on the lips and darted off.
“Cheater!” she yelled and took off after him.
They both laughed all the way. They rolled out of the path and onto the main road in front of her grandmother’s house like two out-of-control tumbleweeds blown out of the El Paso desert. They joined hands, fingers intertwining in their dance.
Xavier was still chortling, but Soledad stopped in her tracks. The black automobile she knew well was parked in front of the house, and her father stood hands on hips, his perceptive gaze measuring up the couple with his eyes.
She quickly dropped Xavier’s hand. From her side vision, she could see Xavier staring at her. She glanced at him, and his confused expression pained her.
“It’s my father,” she whispered.
“No.” The defiance that had been building in her since the last time she’d seen her father burst out. She took Xavier by the arm and pulled him forward.
“Papá, this is Xavier.”
Xavier lifted his right hand, but Soledad’s father did not move.
“Cholita, what’s the meaning of this?” He lingered on Xavier sending daggers with his eyes, then he returned his intimidating gaze to his daughter. “Why have you been ignoring my messages to come home? Why are you disrespecting me?”
“Papá, I could ask you the same.”
“Nothing.” She looked down.
“If there is something you need to say, then do so,” he dared.
“Nothing, Papá.” Her defiance weakened. He was still her father, the man she’d loved and honored for all her life. Even though this man was different, he was still her father.
“You best be going.” He gave Xavier one last glance. “Chole, get your things. I’ll be in the car.”
The silence was deafening. The fear of the unknown was sneering at them. She longed to reach up and kiss Xavier as though she’d never see him again. She wanted to squeeze his hand and reassure him that she’d be back soon. But their goodbye was nothing of the sort.
With one last squeeze of his hand, she channeled every remnant of faith in her, and said the words her heart knew even before she did. “I love you.”
He didn’t hesitate. It was as if they said it ordinarily. “I love you.” There was urgency in his voice.
Her father sighed heavily, disgust in his air.
She didn’t understand why they were so panicked. Was it because they’d been caught together? Was it because she was leaving to a whole other country that, although was a neighbor, banned her love from entering? No. It was because she was looking at a man who was not her father. That gentle, kind man was gone. This angry man would surely disapprove and keep her away.
Her throat was closing.
Xavier turned to go, and she died.
“Get your things!” Her father was losing his patience.
“I have no things.” She had come to her grandmother’s home straight from the feria with plans to return to her home the next day, so she hadn’t brought one thing.
“I’m not waiting any longer. You’ll go without.”
She didn’t even step inside to say goodbye to her grandmother or Suki. Her grandmother would understand. She was sure her father had already made his presence known.
Arms crossed across her chest, refusing to meet her father’s glare, she entered his car. As they drove away, she turned one last time to the gap in the trees leading to the path.
Xavier was nowhere to be seen.
Back in her El Paso home, Soledad descended the staircase with guns blazing. She knew what was coming. Her mother had gone in and casually mentioned that the “weird man from the feria would be joining them for a business dinner with her father.” The same man who’d disrespected her.
Forced to come down for this dinner, Soledad had dressed herself in the heaviest clothes she owned, covering every possible part of her. She would have worn winter clothes if it wouldn’t have been uncomfortably obvious. This man would not violate her tonight, not in her own home, what used to be a sanctuary. She was further mortified to find that when she turned the corner into the dining room, everyone was seated and there remained one seat. Her seat. Next to Emmanuel.
She wasn’t a stupid girl. She was at the top of her class, a feat not usually reserved for females. She’d been accepted into Stanford, another achievement not typically attained by women. There was not a stupid bone in her body, except that which had led her to believe that her family loved her, that her father loved her.
In an instant, she knew the what, but she didn’t understand the why. It all began to put itself together. Her father’s eagerness to introduce them at the feria, his urgency for her to return home, so urgent that he went into Mexico to gather her himself. She was an animal being led to the slaughter. This was a business dinner all right, and she was the business.
Her father, now sitting red-faced at the edge of his dining chair, staring at her expectantly, was apparently willing to sell her off, to trade her soul for whatever his selfish ambition was. Everyone now stared uncomfortably as she stood in the doorway assessing this situation. It was as if time stood still while the white walls of the dining room began to look concave and suffocating, delusional even.
Soledad felt short of breath, her chest filled with a tightness she could not calm her way out of. She forced herself to look at her mother and felt like she was looking at a stranger. There her mother was, quietly and obediently accepting what was unfolding in the very home where she gave birth to Soledad.
Her mother slumped so low that the chair hovered enormously. She could not even return Soledad’s desperate stare. And why should she? She, too, was part of this plot. What was meant to be passed off as a casual business dinner, was actually a get-to-know-your-purchase dinner.
Her eyes fluttered open and she clenched her sheets, afraid to move, instantly bracing for the wave of nausea that diligently greeted her each day. But instead, after several minutes of anticipation, she gasped to discover that she actually felt hungry. She had not felt this way in a long time. Suddenly, she felt a deep hunger pang. Then it came again. Her eyes squinted in concentration as she tried to zone in, to visualize what could be happening inside of her. And then she slowly began to grasp that what she was feeling, the light flutters as soft as the tips of butterfly wings, were not hunger pangs at all. Her heart leapt. She distinctly felt a baby kicking! A strange sound now filled the air. It danced throughout the bedroom. She was trying to figure out what it was when all at once, the baby kicked again. From the deep recesses of her mind, she knew that sound. It was laughter. Her laughter. It felt so good she did it again. Release. It was raining down on her. She laughed and laughed and laughed. It’d been so long, it felt like her first time, and with each kick, it was like her baby was laughing with her. They were together, one person. In those few sweet moments, something changed. Something in the deepest part of her became free from a long and dormant prison, and it wrapped itself around her baby. There was nothing she would not do for this child. Her child. It no longer mattered that it was part Emmanuel. It was her baby. She thanked God for such a gift, one she felt she didn’t deserve. The world at war was falling apart outside, but inside, her baby was in the safest place it could be.
Thank you all for joining me today! I hope you have a blessed day. I am honored to share this day with you, my dear family and dear friends. Your support has been undeniable and a crucial part in this process. I am forever in your debt. Hugs!
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