Most of my paternal family are a mix of ranchers, farmers and a coal miner or two, and they’re not known for running off at the mouth. I think there’s a type of man who delights in using as few words as possible. And as much as I love loud, take-no-prisoner type women, I also love a still-waters-run-deep sort of fella.
Sweet Abuelita, an illustration in the book.
Henry “Hank” Burnett, from the book cover
In my second novel, Bitter Springs, an historical Western set in Del Rio, Texas in the 1870s, I had a lot of fun with Henry “Hank” Burnett, the freed slave turned mesteñeros, stepping in as the quintessential cowboy. (And for more on how he absolutely was the quintessential cowboy–most likely not straight nor white–click here.) In the following excerpts, Renaldo is a young, coming of age horse-trainer (21) the baby of a boisterous, loving Texican family. He’s made a faux pas and… well, maybe it’s best you read it. (And get a glass of water, ’cause brother, Hank is dry.)
This dashing gent (this is done in pencil, can you stand it?) is Renaldo Valle Santos, youngest son of Estebán Santos. Like most kids who come tail end in a large family, he hasn’t had expectations put on his shoulders aside from watching out for his twin sister Canadaría and doing what his brothers tell him.
Life is pretty easy when that’s all you have to think about. And given the isolated nature of the family’s ranch out in San Felipe Del Rio, Texas, he doesn’t have to worry much about things like finding himself a wife. (Which is good, because that’s the last thing he wants.)
A wrench gets tossed in the works in the form of that handsome fellow in the bottom left corner, Henry “Hank” Burnett.
Turns out there’s a reason why Renaldo didn’t want a wife: He’d much rather have a husband. But seeing as this is a much different time than today, (1870, to be exact) how would that even work? Continue reading