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Mission Song -- Karen Dean Benson

Mission Song - Chenoa's Story

Spring 1836, a sea-going merchantman navigates north in the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean along the coast of Alta California. On deck, eighteen-year-old Chenoa Sandoval looks toward the coastline, hazy in the distance. Lying her way out of the suffocating atmosphere of a Boston convent, she sailed around the tip of South America, soon to disembark on the wild land of her birth.

Clutching the rail as warm breezes tug dark tendrils from her bonnet, the captain has just informed her they are no more than two weeks from the Monterey/Carmel Peninsula. A mere fortnight to come to grips with a lie that will enrage her guardian.

Six years earlier, with the death of Padre Tomas, she was thrust into the care of a rancher, Don Sebastian Viandante, who put the twelve-year old Chenoa in a convent in Boston. He hoped the Dominican nuns would tame her wild nature and curb the forceful will that continually clashed with his. Now six years later, like a thunderbolt about to strike, she fears their first encounter. The very act of arriving at Cantico del Rio without his approval will confirm how utterly the nuns failed in their assigned task.

With ten years between them, these two headstrong people must confront the hostility and the magnetism that sparkles between them. However, secrets from his past boil and fester into life-changing reality, threatening their very existence.

Did Franciscan Padre Tomas have the wisdom of Socrates, or was he a foolish dreamer? Anyone would know a convent bred woman and a former vigilante were oil and water.


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"The scenes of Mission Song are strong with detail, knowledge and beauty and the characters are sympathetic and well-drawn." - Eileen Charbonneau - Historical Novel Review

5 starReviewed By Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite

...The protagonist fondly reminisces on her life in Mission Song. It is beautifully written by Karen Dean Benson and is so poignant with a rich historical setting. Mexico once owned California and it was nice to learn more about this significant time in history in such a nice way. Chenoa briefly narrates in the beginning of the story with strong emotions. The rest of her tale is an exciting account of the events that occurred in her life and how she learned to cope with some of them. I was fond of a few of the characters and loved Mrs. MacFie’s Scottish vernacular. Mission Song: Chenoa's Story is Book 2 from the Ladies of Mischief series that makes for a delightful read. Read the full review here.

Diseño - Rancho Cantico del Rio 1825 A.D.


historical mention

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded by Father Serra, June 3, 1770, at the site of the previous Presidio Chapel in Monterey. A year later, the mission relocated five miles to the Carmel Valley and became Father Serra’s headquarters. Most of the missions were built a day’s walk or donkey ride apart, on a road that came to be named El Camino Real, the King’s Highway. The missions, were always built of thick, plastered walls with the exception of Mission San Carlos which was built of stone. San Carlos’ walls taper inward forming an arch. It is also the only mission with the beautiful star-shaped window, and was dedicated in 1797. Father Serra is buried beneath the altar. The chain of twenty-one missions is referred to as Serra’s Rosary.

Though my story is not about Padre Junipero Serra, mention is made of him several times. In addition, as this novel prepares for publication, his canonization has just taken place September 23, 2015.  Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the University Mall at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

During Mass, Pope Francis canonized Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish-born Franciscan Friar known for building the first nine of the twenty-one Spanish missions dotted along California’s coastline, beginning in the 1700s. My research has taken me to Mission San Carlos a number of times, so this is of particular interest to me. 

As most fiction writers do, I have taken license with the times in the 1800s and the way the Native Americans were treated. I wish my story, the part where there was an Indiada built on the ranch to house them, had been more of the truth than fiction.



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