Daughter of Fortune, the Debut Novel of Award-Winning Author Carla Kelly

“I would recommend this book on the basis of its unique use of history alone. The fact that is superbly written and researched makes it that much more of a treasure.”  Read More …

–Maggie Boyd, All About Romance.com

Daughter of Fortune ($14.95, 284 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-891-9) is the first published work of fiction by acclaimed romance novelist Carla Kelly. This historical romance, set in the Spanish Royal Colony of New Mexico, is back in print for the first time since being published in hardcover only in 1985. Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; a Whitney Award for Best Romance Fiction, 2011; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times.

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Maria Espinosa should not have survived the 1679 cholera epidemic in Mexico City that killed her parents, already reeling from the loss of their fortune, nor should she have survived an Apache raid on the caravan transporting her to a sister in remote Santa Fe, in the royal colony of New Mexico. Rejected by her sister because she is penniless, Maria struggles to stay alive in a society unaware of impending disaster. A charismatic Tewa Indian named Popé is determined to drive the hated European overlords from the land.

Maria’s refuge is no refuge at all. When Mary is taken in by a Spanish ranching family living uneasily among the Pueblo Indians, her beauty and spirit inspire a rivalry between two brothers—one a Spaniard, the other half-Indian. Will she find security and purpose in this harsh land only to lose her heart?

In the midst of personal turmoil, Maria discovers a rare talent in this colony of believers. She learns how to carve discarded branches and tree stumps into statues of saints. She also learns the larger lesson: that grace can transform an object of little value into a masterpiece. But trouble lies ahead. Maria can reveal the saint buried in a block of wood. What mysteries lie deep within her own heart?

“All my novels have a place in my heart,” says Kelly, “but the first one is special … Daughter of Fortune started on a trip to Santa Fe in 1982, scene of a Western Writers of America conference where I received a second Spur Award for short fiction … As I enjoyed that remarkable, historic place, I tried to recall the name of the Pueblo Indian who masterminded the uprising that drove the Spanish out of New Mexico in 1680, and kept them out for twelve years. I finally remembered his name, and there was my novel.”

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of twenty-six novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong interest in history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe. She’s held a variety of jobs, including public relations work for major hospitals and hospices, feature writer and columnist for a North Dakota daily newspaper, and ranger in the National Park Service (her favorite job) at Fort Laramie National Historic Site and Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. She has worked for the North Dakota Historical Society as a contract researcher. Interest in the Napoleonic Wars at sea led to a recent series of novels about the British Channel Fleet during that conflict. Of late, Carla has written two novels set in southeast Wyoming in 1910 that focus on her Mormon background and her interest in ranching. Click here to find Carla online.

Carla has her own ties to the Seattle area, where Camel Press has its offices. Following her father’s retirement from the U.S. Navy, her parents lived on Whidbey Island for thirty years. She has always enjoyed visiting Seattle, with Pike Place Market a particular favorite stop.

Daughter of Fortune is available in 6×9 trade paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.com, as well as the European, Canadian, and Japanese Amazons. EBook and paperback editions can also be purchased on BN.com. Bookstores and libraries can order through Ingram or by contacting info@camelpress.com, Follett Library Resources or Midwest Library Service. Ebooks can be purchased in multiple formats on Smashwords and all major eBook retailers.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

After nearly a league of rapid, silent travel, the pace slowed to a walk. Maria dozed in the saddle, trying not to lean back. She struggled to stay awake. She had never been this close to a man before, not even her father. When she felt herself falling against him, she pulled herself awake. Once, when she relaxed against Diego Masferrer, she yanked her head up, cracking him under the chin. Without a word, he transferred the reins to his left hand and with the other, firmly pushed her against his chest. Her eyes closed and she slept.

In her dream, Carmen de Sosa ran alongside Diego’s horse, tugging at Maria’s dress with her bloody hands. Maria whimpered. “Por Dios, they follow me,” she whispered, pulling her legs up out of Carmen’s dripping grasp. She cried out and tried to scramble from the saddle, but Diego held her down, his arms clamped firmly around her body.

Diego was silent, as if trying to understand what she feared. “Maria,” he said finally, “go back to sleep. I shall keep them away.” She shut her eyes. “Sleep, sleep,” he said over and over, until sleep overtook her and closed out the soothing sound of his voice.

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