Vicky cannot marry the man she is betrothed to. In an attempt to find her father and discuss the matter with him, she is lost in the wilderness. Chris doesn’t speak Spanish, so he can’t even understand why Vicky is lost but she did save his life and now it is up to him to return her home safely. Bonnie Navarro’s latest historical romance, Rescuing the Runaway Bride (Love Inspired) brings an unlikely couple together as they learn to speak a language they both understand—true love. Vicky answered our questions about the inspiration behind this story, her research, and the role her faith plays in her writing.
I wondered what would happen if a young noblewoman of Spanish decent wandered off her hacienda and ended up being rescued by an American. Vicky wasn’t someone who would be just your regular damsel in distress. No, she was strong, independent and yet very much in need of someone to show her true love. Chris had been in a form of self-exile for too long and needed a little nudge to reenter society.
HOW DID YOU RESEARCH THE HISTORICAL PERIOD WHERE YOUR BOOK TAKES PLACE?
I’ve read many stories from the time period. While writing my book, I had to look up many of the details online and in history books. I have a slight advantage that I could look up the accounts from both sides, since I read Spanish. I find it very interesting how the same chain of events can be seen so differently from different perspectives.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE MAIN CHARACTERS?
Vicky is the daughter of a Spanish noble who inherited a large hacienda. Just like in feudal times in Europe, here in the Americas, the nobles took care of their peasants and kept the peace by marrying within their peers. A Spanish nobleman who owns a hacienda a few days’ journey away was pressing Vicky’s father to give her hand in marriage. She wants nothing to do with the vile man. When she tries to follow her father to a meeting of the noblemen in Alta California to plead her case, she becomes lost. She discovers Chris about to be attacked by a mountain lion and her quick reflexes save his life.
Chris grew up in South Carolina on his family’s plantation. But he never could understand or justify slavery. When his father died, Chris freed the slaves, offering wages for those who wanted to stay on. He was very successful at first but his actions caused unrest and one man was even lynched because of his misuse of his new freedom. Chris’ sense of guilt lead him to sell the plantation and move to Alta California where he set up his own horse ranch. When Vicky enters his life, he has no choice but to help her and while she recovers from the injury she sustained saving his life, he also has an opportunity to come to care for her.
IN RESCUING THE RUNAWAY BRIDE, THERE’S A LANGUAGE BARRIER BETWEEN YOUR TWO PROTAGONISTS. HOW DOES THEIR AFFECTION GROW DESPITE THEIR DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGE AND BACKGROUNDS?
Kindness, compassion, and understanding all can be shown without uttering a word. Even when the words are unknown, tone of voice, body language, and simple courtesy mean more than the words themselves.
In Vicky’s case, she had studied English with a tutor for a short time when she was a child. Her sharp mind and willingness to be taught made their situation much easier. When two people are kind to each other, put each other first and want to learn more about God, they will find their friendship grow, even if they have to talk in circles and use pantomime from time to time to get a point across.
I love writing romance because I firmly believe that the Bible is the greatest romance ever written. God recorded His love story with His bride in His Word. He made the grandest gesture of them all. He came, humbling himself the High King of Heaven to be born in a stable, despised, rejected, feeling cold, heat, hunger and pain so that He could bring His bride back to Himself. Without His action on our part, we are all destined to an eternity separated from Him.
No human love could ever compare to God’s great and perfect love, and yet, by the telling of love stories, we can participate in honoring Him. I pray that my stories exalt how God brings two fallen, imperfect people together and blesses them beyond anything they could ever hope or imagine.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES – OR BENEFITS – OF WRITING ROMANCE STORIES AS A CHRISTIAN?
There are both challenges and benefits from writing romances as a Christian. As I mentioned before, the greatest benefit of all is I can share God’s love to my readers. My story may be the way God choses to reach a reader who would never darken the doors of a church but needs God’s love. It is difficult to balance being winsome and attractive to those needing to hear about God’s love and yet truthful about issues like sin and its consequences.
I also struggle with the balance between including the right amount of humanity and not offending some readers. God created man and woman and set them in the garden with instruction to fill the earth. His plan is right and good; beautiful inside the bonds of marriage. He also created attraction between a husband and wife and blessed it as part of a holy union. A love story told without any form of attraction between the two is not realistic and yet I need to tread very carefully when I portray the affection and tension that grows with the romance.
Another challenge I find is not expecting my darling husband to be as perfect as the heroes we read about. While I try and create characters who are human and real, in real life, our husbands and other family members are not always going to be as open to God’s direction and our comments and needs as those we craft in our stories. (Admittedly, I’m not nearly as likeable as the heroines I create either.)