Catherine Friend
Catherine Friend
The Spanish Pearl

Bold Strokes Books, 2007

Golden Crown Literary Society award

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The Spanish Pearl

When Kate Vincent and her partner travel to Spain, Kate is accidentally transported back in time … way back in time … to 1085. What does a woman like Kate do in a world of no antibiotics, no feminism, no Diet Coke? She denies it as long as possible, then sets her mind to getting home. Tricky with her now useless twenty-first century skills.

Things don’t go well. Kate is captured by a band of mercenary soldiers and becomes an unwitting pawn in the violent conflict between the Catholic kings and the Islamic Moors. In her struggle to stay alive and return to the future, Kate must flee exotic harems, filthy dungeons, and treacherous Moorish courts. But when a sword-brandishing woman with an astonishing secret sweeps into Kate’s life, Kate is suddenly torn between two women, and between two centuries.

The Spanish Pearl is an epic adventure spiced with humor, lust, and danger—a story with surprising twists that will capture your imagination just as Kate’s dilemma captures your heart.

awards and recognition

Gaylactic Spectrum Award finalist
Golden Crown Literary Award, 2008

a note to readers

In my reading life I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books with straight protagonists and straight romances. I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of movies with straight protagonists and straight romances. Yet here I am, still a lesbian! I’m pretty sure it works the other way as well—straight men and women will be able to read a novel about a gay woman, and still remain straight.

What’s most important is story, not sexuality. Does the story grip you? Does it make you laugh? Do you keep thinking about the characters after the book is over? I write stories to escape the despair and violence and pressures surrounding all of us in the twenty-first century. If that’s what you’re looking for too, give The Spanish Pearl a try. You’ll lose yourself in another person’s life for a few hours without endangering your sexuality, whatever it might be.

reviews and readers' comments

“Friend tackles both science fiction and romance in this adventurous tale … Is it really cheating if you have an affair nine hundred years before your partner is born, or does love and commitment span centuries and confound the linear nature of time? A most entertaining read, with a sequel already in the works. Hot, hot, hot!” (Minnesota Literature)

“1085 AD is a perfect backdrop for this wild romp. The observations Kate Vincent, our plucky heroine, makes about eleventh century Spain through her contemporary eyes are priceless …

… This is a rollicking good tale, full of adventure, humor, romance, and high stakes suspense, for Kate’s friends and foes are not always who or what they seem. It will take all the smarts and patience of a severely decaffeinated woman to figure out what she wants, not to mention how to actually get home …

… The author does a terrific job with characterization, lush setting, action scenes, and droll commentary. This is one of those well-paced, exciting books that you just can’t quite put down … This is one of the very best books I’ve read in many months, so I give it my highest recommendation!

Don’t miss this one.” (Midwest Fiction Review)

“With her first adult novel, The Spanish Pearl, author Catherine Friend has proved herself to be an extremely versatile writer….Friend’s thorough research of medieval Spanish history brings it alive in all its splendor and palace intrigue.” (Rochester Post Bulletin)

“Just finished The Spanish Pearl for the SECOND TIME! Wowzers, what a fantastic book … Parts of it have stayed with me well after I’ve finished reading. Kate is a terrific heroine, and I love how her 21st century sassiness comes to play in 1085. I laughed out loud at many of her exploits, and teared up when she helped Luis find himself. I look forward to the sequel, so Catherine, please keep up the great work. Can’t wait until November when the next (and final book) in the series debuts.” (L, Illinois)

I have just finished reading Spanish Pearl and it’s a beauty! Can’t wait for the sequel — November seems such a long time to wait. Oh well, will have to do a couple of re-reads before then, I guess.” (Sarah, from Brisbane, Australia)

I just finished The Spanish Pearl. I was absolutely transfixed! I could hardly put the book down. I read it straight on through work last night. You have done the impossible. You wrote the book I have always dreamed of reading.” (Alisha, Missouri)

I just finished the book about 4 a.m. this morning. I couldn’t put it down. You were able to elicit just about every emotional reaction from me (not easily done), the best by far being laughter.” (Diane, Missouri)

Catherine, I just want to say I LOVE YOUR BOOK!!!!! I just finish reading it and can’t wait for The Crown of Valencia … I have a handful of favorite authors and you are now on the top of my list! I would love to see this story on screen sometime.” (Christine)

It was such a pleasure to read your book. Actually, I am only half way through and, while I have never written a fan letter, I have been so taken by your story and your talent I chose to write you before I finished. Most lesbian fiction I have read is formulaic and often mediocre. Your book was such a nice surprise; I look forward to reading your next book and all the others that come after.” (Toni)

“Kate’s sense of humor is wonderful. The book got better and better with each chapter as I came to know those two better. One day I was so engrossed reading TSP that I actually didn’t realize the metro train had come to the end of the line. It wasn’t until the driver started to exit himself that I realized I was soon to be alone on the train! That was a first!” (Laura)