Inspiration for the Native American Romance Series

Bound by Honor Bound by Love should be available in a day or two on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I just uploaded it today.  I already have it on Smashwords, but I’m waiting until it’s up on the other channels to give out the links.

On Sunday, I’m going to post the dream Citlali has in the book, and on Monday, I’ll give the background behind the dream because a lot of his dream stemmed from the Mandan myths and things that were going on in his life at the time.

But for today, I thought I’d give the overall background for the entire Native American Romance Series.  😀

Believe it or not, it all started around May 2009 when I wrote Meant To Be.  Yeah, I know.  Meant To Be never coincides with the Native American Romance Series, but there was a romantic subplot in Meant To Be between Cole Hunter and Penelope.  Cole Hunter was the bad guy turned good in Meant To Be.  I found I enjoyed Cole and Penelope’s story so much, I wanted to write their story in more detail, especially Penelope’s background.  So I wrote the novella “A Chance In Time.”

I was chatting with a friend who said it was sad that Penelope was unable to have children, so I decided to give her a child through adoption.  But to do this, I need a pregnant woman.  That’s why Penelope brought the Mandan Indian woman the white people called “Martha” to her home after Cole left for Fargo.

But as I wrote “A Chance In Time,” I knew that Martha hadn’t been raped by a white man.  I knew that Martha had loved the white man who was the father of her baby, and I knew that no one else would ever know the truth unless I wrote Martha’s story.  The original plan was for Martha to die in childbirth so Penelope would get a child that way.  Since I decided to let Martha live, I had to find another way for Penelope and Cole to have children.  Someone told me about orphan trains from that time period, so I decided to have Penelope and Cole adopt two Mandan children.

But that still left me with what to do with Martha and sharing her story.  I decided that Martha’s real name was Woape (which means Hope), and I started her story.  I had no idea how she was going to end up pregnant and alone, but I knew that had to be the central part of the story.  My original plan was to have a white man rescue her, marry her, die, and leave her pregnant and on the run from the Sioux Indians who were feared by the Mandan Indians.  The Sioux had a tendency to be violent while the Mandans sought peace whenever possible and only resorted to fighting when they were attacked.  (This was based on my research.)

I was able to connect Woape up with Penelope in Restoring Hope, but (as you all know), I couldn’t kill Gary off.  So I opted to make everyone think he was dead.  My original plan was for Woape to return to the tribe, marry Citlali, and learn to love him.  But since Gary threw a wrench in those plans, I had to go with the alternate route the characters took me on.  This led to the subplot of Gary’s sister, Julia, and Chogan searching for him after they realized he wasn’t dead after all, and it offered Julia a means of atonement for her sins.  While I was finishing Restoring Hope, I knew Julia and Chogan could have a great story, but it would be better off if I didn’t go into it until I wrote their book.  I also realized I wanted Woape’s sister was in love with Citlali and thought it would be fun to see Citlali happy.

So I wrote Brave Beginnings to give Julia and Chogan their story.  That book turned out to be a lot longer than I expected since Ernest took a prominent role.  With my writing, the characters take over.  They’ll do what they want, and my original plan was for the book to be a novella where it ended with Julia choosing Chogan and marrying him.  But it turned out Julia wanted to marry Chogan right away, and Ernest was upset and wanted his revenge.  So I let them lead the course through the book, which was actually better than I hoped since Citlali got some time in that book that helped me figure out who he was.  I never got a good handle on Citlali until I wrote Brave Beginnings.  It turned out he wasn’t anything like Woape or Chogan thought.

The final book in the Native American Romance Series is Bound by Honor Bound by Love, and since it is the last book, it had to complete the underlying themes I had started with Restoring Hope.  The main theme was the historical reality that the Mandan tribe suffered greatly from the Smallpox epidemic, and they struggled to replenish their numbers by encouraging the men to have more than one wife (so one man would marry the oldest female and her younger sisters).  This was the norm at that time.  It was also permitted for the females to marry as young as fourteen to start having children sooner, but I couldn’t bring myself to make Onawa that young so I opted to make her sixteen.  The same was true for Woape.  She was around sixteen to seventeen.  This was a matter of historical accuracy since they did allow a couple women to wait until they were sixteen.        On the same side of the coin, Gary and Citlali had to be younger than my average hero so there was no huge gap in ages.  My average hero is 23-25 and my average heroine is 20-22.  (Keep in mind, that’s the average, not the rule for all of them.)

In addition to the Mandan’s struggle to preserve their lineage, I also wanted to address more of their customs.  I had plans to write about a buffalo hunt, but given the fact that Citlali wasn’t much of a hunter, I had to stick with more of the politics in the tribe, which stemmed directly from the first chief.  There were two chiefs in a Mandan tribe, and though Citlali was young, his dedication to the tribe and his cool head enabled him to be the second chief by the time Brave Beginnings was written.  Upon the chief’s death, he’d become the first chief and choose a second chief.  But since he was not the first chief, he had to take his orders from the first chief, and this provided the conflict necessary for the book.

The final theme was tying up the happy endings for all the couples who were a part of the series.  So I went into what happened with Woape and Gary, Julia and Chogan, Julia’s Aunt even found someone (I always felt she needed a man), Penelope and Cole (and their children), and Onawa and Citlali.  Penelope and Cole were briefly addressed in Restoring Hope, and I wanted to answer the question about the background of the Mandan children they adopted in Bound by Honor Bound by Love.  So I brought them back to answer the question of “how did those children end up on the orphan train?”

The series does end on a bittersweet note.  Citlali and Onawa get their happy ending.   A happy ending for the hero and heroine is a must in a romance (in my opinion), but the reality of what happened with the Mandans couldn’t be ignored while I wrote the series either.  Since the last full-blooded Mandan died in the 1970s, there was no way I could end the series on a completely joyful note, but what I tried to do was provide a resolution that was realistic and respectful of the Mandan legacy.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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4 Responses to Inspiration for the Native American Romance Series

  1. Okay, now I have to read all four of the books you mentioned. 🙂

  2. dorothypaula says:

    Hurrah! Lotsa hugs. Kudos, Dear Ruth. Now I can complete the set. By the way, I’m up to chapter four of my next book, “Jenny’s story”. She is the “best friend” from Lilac in the Spring.” You continue to inspire me. 🙂

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