When Karen Kay’s first published romance novel, LAKOTA SURRENDER hit the bookshelves, it was an immediate sensation. Beyond the rave reviews — Romantic Times Magazine gave it a four-and-a-half star “Exceptional” rating. This was a skillfully crafted and gorgeously sweeping story with truly unforgettable characters. Consensus was, among critics and readers alike, that Ms. Kay was a remarkable new talent. In the almost $900 million dollar romance industry, nearly one-half of the paperbacks (48.6% – Publisher’s Weekly) sold in the U.S. are romance fiction.
She had chosen as her setting the virgin Kansas prairie and as the majority of her characters, its Lakota Indians. Choosing to place the action before the time of the Indian Wars, she thoroughly researched contemporaneous accounts from travelers and priests to give the reader an extraordinary picture of a culture in full flower, deeply spiritual and the Indians themselves as close as can be imagined to our own notion of gentlemen — honorable, courageous, and, as Kay says, “exemplifying everything people should be.” Rejecting instinctively the good old boy Hollywood tradition she grew up with — Indian as scalping savage — and fascinated by the first Americans, it wasn’t till she was fully adult that she found out via a chance remark that she herself possessed native American heritage. Her great-great grandmother was a Choctaw Indian. Shocked and surprised that it had been kept from her, she was absolutely thrilled to find she had a new family.
From that point on she read everything about the native American she could get her hands on, and, about the time she fell in love with “Dances With Wolves,” the urge to write, which had already borne fruit in a handful of contemporary romance manuscripts in various stages under her bed, suddenly had a true and passionate focus.
She began to work on what would become LAKOTA SURRENDER, absolutely determined to present the native American in a true light. Unlike previous romance novels set among the Indians, where the white heroine has invariably been forcibly abducted, her own heroine, having grown up with an Indian nanny, loves the people and moves freely among them, a gradual and natural love growing between herself and a Lakota man. The book was not only completely believable in terms of dialogue and character but was wonderfully lyrical in its descriptions of the endless, untouched land. And it’s funny: Kay is the first to let us in on the wry, self-effacing real humor of the Lakota. Avon Books was so impressed with the manuscript they immediately signed her to a three-book contract. Karen Kay has been an avid reader of romance novels since she was a teenager, believing that they express the most uplifting message of all — that despite all the vicissitudes of life, it is love, which has the power to transform us into something better than we are.
She has already carved out her own niche in the romance novel industry, and there she intends to stay and excel to the very top. Her research continues to take her all over the country, where she goes through tribal councils to consult with leaders on Native American reservations, to attend pow-wows and festivals. She also supports organizations including the World Literacy Crusade to try to help eliminate illiteracy. Karen KayKaren Kay appears to be the physical embodiment of the powerful messages of her books. Looking very much like one of her own heroines — slender, exotic, wearing the flowing dresses she favors with elaborate Indian style jewelry — she moves with grace through every aspect of her life. She has a quiet but strong presence, and a beautiful sparkle when she looks at you and speaks. Her stories will appeal to people of all cultures. Her romantic heroes and heroines will capture reader’s hearts. The essence of her stories reveals qualities that create loving bonds, help to cross bridges and ensure everlasting relationships. There’s so much to know, and so few left who remember. Karen Kay wants you to know what we had to sell in order to buy the things we have today.