Bonnie Leon – Real Life Romance – Part 1 of 3

Shannon here: Bonnie Leon shares her grandparents’ real life romance & a chance to win a copy of her latest Women’s Fiction, To Dance with Dolphins. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated August 12 – 17 to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: August 22, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Bonnie:

Bonnie LeonTo Dance with Dolphins by Bonnie Leon


My grandfather, Thomas Francis Roberts, and my grandmother, Vera Nadezda Anderson, inspired a novel I wrote called A Sacred Place. Their love story is unusual in today’s world, but what happened to them was fairly common in their time and place, which was early twentieth century Alaska.

My grandmother was Aleut and in love with an Aleut man. From all I know she was happy. However, in 1920 being a native meant you were a second-class citizen. Natives were not even included as a citizen of the United States until 1915 and weren’t allowed to vote until 1922. So, when a young Welshman, an immigrant to the United States, fell in love with my grandmother, a sweet native girl, her parents saw it as a way for her to obtain a better life.

Thomas Roberts went to Vera’s parents seeking permission to marry her and they agreed. The man Vera loved couldn’t give her what a white man could and though her parents knew promising her to Thomas would break her heart, they believed they were doing what was best for her. In that time, young women did as they were told. I can only guess at my grandmother’s heartache, but she did said farewell to the man she loved and married a man she barely knew, an outsider.

She and Thomas were married in 1920. And I am told that Thomas understood she was in love with another man and she didn’t love him. He was patient and kind, and didn’t claim his conjugal rights, but told her instead that when she was ready to love him then they would consummate their marriage.

Thomas took a job as a caretaker for what was called a fox island which was a place that fox were transplanted and allowed to breed and then their furs were harvested. In early fall, Thomas and Vera were left on the island with the promise that the boat would return with supplies to see them through the winter. That year, winter came early and the boat did not return with the promised provisions. My grandparents were left stranded for the entire winter on an island called Unalga.

They relied on each other, and as they fought to survive love and respect grew. My grandmother knew the native ways and my grandfather was a good hunter and trapper—their combination of knowledge is what they needed to survive. They endured and lived, and loved.

In the spring when a boat cane to collect what they expected would be bodies, they found my grandparents alive and well. It was a heartwarming and unexpected surprise for all.

My grandparents’ marriage lasted until my grandfather’s death in 1947. They had eight children and passed down the richness of their heritage to each of their children. I am one of the grandchildren who has gladly inherited their legacy of love and endurance, designed by God and I am forever grateful.

About Bonnie: Bonnie Leon is the author of more than twenty novels, including the recently released To Dance With Dolphins and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.

June 11, 1991 a log truck hit the van she was driving, and her world changed. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and in search of personal value, she discovered writing. She has been creating stories ever since.

Bonnie is familiar with the challenges of disability beyond her personal experience. Her sister endured the debilitating illnesses of lupus, MS, and Bi-polar disorder. And her daughter is grappling with the chronic progressive disorder of syringomyelia.

Through chronic pain and disability Bonnie found new purpose. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups, teaching at writing seminars, and mentoring young writers. She also administers an online support group for those living with chronic pain and disability and is a participating member of the Syringomyelia and Chiari Network.

She is married to her teen-age sweetheart, the mother of three grown children, and grandmother of eight. Bonnie and her husband Greg live in the mountains of Southern Oregon. Learn more and connect:,, Twitter @Bonnie¬_Leon

About the book – To Dance with Dolphins: Twenty-two-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?

Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers.

Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?

Purchase Links:

Question for Readers: What is your ethnic heritage?

Come back Aug 14 for Bonnie’s romantic real life interview!

6 Responses to “Bonnie Leon – Real Life Romance – Part 1 of 3”

  • Melissa Henderson says:

    I looked up my maiden name, Lee. How interesting to find that the name is English. Thanks for encouraging me to find out more about my heritage. 🙂 I look forward to reading your books.

  • Shelia Hall says:

    I have Choctaw Indian,Irish and Germany in my heritage and just a little bit of english!

  • Linda Rainey says:

    What a beautiful love story.

  • Beth C says:

    My ancestors are all from Norway and Sweden. One of my Grandpas came directly from Sweden and one of my Grandmas came directly from Norway.

  • Bonnie Leon says:

    How good to hear so many of you are looking into your family histories. There are so many amazing stories to be found in the archives of our ancestors.

    One of the beautiful things that happened when I wrote my first book, The Journey of Eleven Moons, which is about a young Aleut girl in 1875, is I discovered my heritage. For the first time, I felt truly connected to my native culture.

    Bless you all. Thanks for sharing.

  • dari says:

    I really want to win this book.

Leave a Reply

Featuring Recent Posts Wordpress Widget development by YD