GS vs. STA: Latino Heroes and Heroines

A reader named Tessa emailed looking for recommendations, and I knew you would know some good books to suggest for her. 

I am looking for a book, actually for a type of book- I would really like more than one. I want to read something with a[n] Hispanic protagonist (I think
I would prefer hero to heroine, but I would like either).

I did a quick (micro-second fast) search of the site, but didn't see a whole lot, other than this is not a type of book you see often, which I had kinda already figured out.

I would be ok with historical, but would prefer contemporaries.

 

And I am not really interested in the HP, angry-boner type of story, either, which I know limits my choices even more. What I would like is a non-exoticised, modern story, probably set in the US, featuring the culture of the millions of Latino/Chicano/Hispanic people (yes, I know there is more than one culture).

It doesn't have to have a whole lot of cultural description – I am familiar with several iterations of Latin-influenced culture – but I would like to see that culture informing/influencing the protagonist. Does such a thing exist? And if so, [would you] share? It's a large ethnic group and I am always surprised that there are not more books featuring them.


The book that first comes to mind is the Perfect Chemistry YA series by Simone Elkeles, which features three brothers as the hero of each book, starting with Perfect Chemistry. Caridad Ferrer's novels, including Adios to My Old Life and When the Stars Go Blue, feature Latina heroines and heroes as well – and are also YA. 

Do you have suggestions? 

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  1. 1

    Arg! I read a short story that I understand would be part of a series but I can’t for the life of me remember it. But the hero was a young man who got paid to spray paint art work on buildings to deter actual taggers. And if I remember correctly he is Hispanic, or at least partly, he might’ve been also partly Indian. Anyway, turns out he was born to kill demons. He meets up with a young woman who I think it named Maria who’s also suppose to kill demons. Only neither knew this about themselves. Oh I wish I could remember where I read it. It could’ve been in a book that had a short story involving the lead werewolves from Alpha & Omega that Sarah recommended to me some time back.

    AH! I hate it when this happens. If you don’t mind paranormals I’m sure this would fit the bill, but darn it, I just can’t remember the book nor the author! *headdesk* Oy vey!

  2. 2
    Rose says:

    I would recommend anything by Jill Sorenson. Her books are set in Southern California and Mexico, and she always includes Latino/Hispanic characters. Usually it’s the heroine, but the hero in the secondary romance of The Edge of Night is Mexican-American (I think).

  3. 3
    Minna says:

    From memory, there were a lot of silhouette special editions in the mid-90’s with Hispanic heroes or heroines. Although I couldn’t comment on how accurately they were portrayed (myself being so exotic living in Australia).

  4. 4
    Zee says:

    I liked Fade the Heat, by Colleen Thompson. I know I got it for free, possibly from that glitchy Borders giveaway last year? Mexican-American hero, language choice as status/subculture signifier. It wasn’t, like, the greatest thing ever, but it was a good solid book that didn’t oversimplify things too far.

  5. 5
    Kirsten says:

    Robyn Carr’s third Virgin River novel (I can’t remember the name of the book) has a Hispanic hero. As I recall he keeps saying stuff in Spanish that he assumes she can’t understand, while she of course has a reasonably decent knowledge of Spanish and knows exactly what he’s saying.

  6. 6
    JenniferP says:

    I love, love, love Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles; there’s a book about the third brother, too (Chain Reaction), but I haven’t read that one yet.  They’re YA, but the characters are definitely dealing with adult situations.

  7. 7
    Avery Flynn says:

    Give it another month and A Dry Creek Bed, a romantic suspense with a Latina heroine will be out. :)

  8. 8
    Carin says:

    @Jami, I remember this story, too, though I can’t remember the title either.  The anthology you mentioned is On the Prowl, but I don’t remember this story being in it.  (but my memory, it is not reliable)

    There is a series by Jessica Andersen, The Nightkeepers, but I don’t think I read past the first book.  It’s tied into a lot of Mayan mythology and my memory wants to make it the same story as the one Jami mentioned, but I think they are different.  Both are very paranormal, though, and might not be what the original poster was looking for.

  9. 9
    susan says:

    Some of Laura Griffin’s heros are Latino. Try One Last Breath or Unforgiveable.

  10. 10
    JL says:

    I second Rose’s recommendation of Jill Sorenson. Great romantic suspense!

  11. 11
    Throwmearope says:

    Elizabeth Lowell features Grace, a Latina heroine, in her St. Kilda books.  Not my favorites, but the Spanish doesn’t make me wince.

  12. 12
    Gfree99234 says:

    Caridad Pinero has Latino heros and/or heriones in most of her books. Her Calling series are vampires in NYC. Her current Lost series also has Latino heros

  13. 13
    Rebecca says:

    I think Justine Davis wrote one of those mid-90’s silhouette’s in her Trinity West Series.

  14. 14
    Rose says:

    I just remembered another one – Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas has a Mexican-American heroine, and though I can’t say there’s a strong sense of the culture, Liberty does have to deal with prejudice and stereotypical thinking.

  15. 15
    cleo says:

    Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint has a Latina heroine, if you like UF.  It’s not a romance, but there is romance in it, and a happy ending.

  16. 16

    @Carin – I think that the last story I read in that book was about some woman who is queen of some supernatural beings that are powered by moonlight. I remember that one too much because there’s an anal sex scene in it and I despise anything anal. I prefer to pretend the act doesn’t exist. And the one I’m trying to remember about the demon killing artist would’ve been just before that one. I’m pretty sure those two were in the same book. Plus the two werewolves. All the stories were part of the different authors’ series.

  17. 17
    Ashley says:

    If you’re willing to go supernatural, Jacqueline Carey’s Santa Olivia is set on the border and very atmospheric.  The feeling of it is wonderful, like what you’d get if Marquez wrote dusty small-town paranormal romance (which I guess in a sense he did).

  18. 18
    ECSpurlock says:

    I strongly recommend anything by Berta Platas. She’s a Latina herself and most of her books feature Latino heroes and heroines. I especially recommend Lucky Chica and the anthology Why I Hate My Sister (at least I think that’s the title; I’m not at my bookcase right now so I can’t check. It’s something about hating your sister.)

  19. 19

    The one in which she is the main heroine is The Wrong Hostage, which was my introduction to Lowell.  I believe she is only a secondary character in the others.

  20. 20
    henofthewoods says:

    Shelly Laurenston had a latina heroine in one of her first books for Ellora’s Cave. (The character is in all three of the first books,“Go Fetch” and “Here, Kitty, Kitty” are the titles that I can think of.) All of her characters are over-the-top so this may not be a really positive roll model, but the character is strong and funny and loyal. Although the stories are erotica, it is friendships between all of the main characters that make her stories fun.
    LA Banks is not my personal favorite, but her characters are ethnically diverse. I think that the main characters are often Latino. [Definitely worth a look if you like urban fantasy.]
    Catherine Asaro has one Mayan-Latina heroine (and by implication all of the main royal characters in her space operas were Mayan). not that I can remember the specific title, but it is part of the geometry/physics-linked imperial space opera series and takes place mostly in LA.
    Cathy Clamp and CA Adams have a few Latino heroes and one heroine in their Sazi series.
    All of these are part-sci fi or fantasy, shape-shifters and vampires and telepaths everywhere you look.

  21. 21
    Elidia says:

    Kensington used to publish the Encanto line of romances, which had Latino hero/heroines, usually Americans who were 2nd gen. It might be worth it to run down some of the novels, which I remember as delightfully cheesy, but not BAD. Some of the authors mentioned wrote for Encanto in the past, and so it might be a good jumping off point to see who is still writing too.

  22. 22
    MaddBookish says:

    I think you may be mixing anthologies. The Briggs story has werewolves, one of whom is part Native American and the Sunny story is the last in the book, but in the two other stories you’ve got one human protagonist, heritage/race not mentioned, and the rest are non-humans.

  23. 23
    Jill Sorenson says:

    Thanks to Rose and JL for the mentions. I’ll ditto Kleypas’s Sugar Daddy and Perfect Chemistry by Elkeles. Really enjoyed both.

    Diaz of Linda Howard’s Cry No More is one of my favorite Hispanic heroes. I’ve also heard great things about Ann Aguirre’s UF series and have enjoyed her Ava Gray books.

    As far as my books, The Edge of Night and Caught in the Act (next year) both deal with border issues and have Mexican American characters.

  24. 24
    MaddBookish says:

    The first book of the Laurenston series is called “Pack Challenge”. Angelina, who’s Mexican and Brazilian, is part of the trio of friends who are the main focus of the series and she’s the heroine of “Here, Kitty, Kitty”, the third book in the series.

  25. 25

    Marta Acosta’s “Casa Dracula” series (the first one is Happy Hour at Casa Dracula) has a fabulous, super funny Latina heroine.  Technically, they’re probably vampire chick lit more than romance, but completely awesome all the same.

  26. 26
    Jody Wallace says:

    The Asaro book is called Catch the Lightning. Though it’s part of the overall series, it does work as a stand-alone SF with very strong romantic elements. Not quite SFR but almost.

  27. 27
    Tam says:

    I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned Anita Blake yet.  Gee, people.

  28. 28
    EC Spurlock says:

    The anthology I was trying to think of earlier was Names I Call My Sister and is actually a collection of four Latina authors, Berta Platas, Lynda Sandoval, Sofia Quintero and Mary Castillo. All four stories are Latino-centric and they are all terrific. A great way to sample these authors.

  29. 29
    Ginger Weil says:

    I also really like the Marta Acosta series.

  30. 30
    kb_run says:

    Caridad Pineiro wrote “Darkness Falls” for Silhouette Intimate Moments featuring Latina heroine, Diana Reyes back in 2004; the series (called “The Calling”) continues in the Silhouette Nocturne line – and I hear there is going to be a new novel with Diana coming out soon!

    The books usually have the either the hero or heroine as Latino/Latina; one of the recent ones (“Honor Calls”) features both.

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