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Sunday, July 7, 2013

University Professor Reviews Award-Winning Historical Romance

The Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood
Sandra Ramos O'BriantAuthor's Web site:
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 978-0615615103
Published by La Gente Press, 2012
Available in print and e-book
Reviewed by Dr. Michele Shaul, Professor, Department of Foreign Languages Queens University of Charlotte originally for
Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s debut novel The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood won Best Historical Novel and Best First Book at the 15th annual ILBA, 2013.  The story sets the stage for a fascinating series about Anglo/Hispanic interaction in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the struggle to control the Santa Fe Trail.
The author introduces the Sandoval sisters Oratoria, Pilar, and Alma who are independent and resistant to the restrictions placed on women in that place and time. Each controls her own destiny, making unconventional choices and always standing by family and friends.
Told in the sisters’ voices, the reader learns of each woman’s loves and losses and follows them on their trail to the end of the novel when the sisters need to come together to preserve their lands and livelihood from the new legal system that threatens the patrimony of many in what is now the Southwest United States.
Oratoria, the eldest, is not a sister by blood. Purchased at age five for the price of a bag of flour, Oratoria was originally Estevan’s gift to his lonely sixteen-year-old bride. Oratoria becomes a family favorite and indispensable to them all, truly integrated as a family member. She is the keeper of the old diaries that provide insight into the Sandoval heritage as well as instruction on cures and spells. She raises her sisters, making sure they are educated and independent thinkers. She is there when they need her and sacrifices herself to protect their livelihood.
Headstrong Alma, determined to not marry her father’s choice for her, runs off with the love of her life (Bill) only to discover once they arrive at his family home that she really does not know him as well as she thought. Cultural clashes between her Spanish background and his Anglo family, clashes with his domineering, mean spirited mother and betrayal by a woman she believed was her friend present the reader with an interesting read and better understanding of the climate of the times and the challenges faced by those who married across boundaries.
The youngest sister Pilar is more of a free spirit than the other two sisters yet she is most suited to marriage to Alma’s rejected elderly suitor, Geraldo. Because of his patience and maturity, Geraldo provides Pilar the blessing of love but more importantly, independence and autonomy. Pilar is able to fend for herself (and others) upon his death. She is more than up to the challenge presented by being one of the landed, moneyed families of the region.
Woven among the stories of love and life is eroticism, mystery, witchcraft, folktales, superstition, political intrigue, corruption, violence, and told with a fluid style that grabs you from the first page and leaves you hungry for more at the end.
About the Author
Sandra Ramos O’Briant‘s work has appeared in numerous journals.  A complete list of her work can be found at
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