Rosalia is a servant girl for a wealthy Spanish ranchero family in Alta (upper) California. She and her little brother Domingo are orphans, though it is apparent through the color of their skin that they are of mixed Native American and Hispanic descent. They and their fellow servants are treated surprisingly kindly by the hospitable Medina family whom they serve. However, when Americanos start to arrive in their area under the pretense of surveying the land, suspicion arises that the Americans will try to steal Alta California for their Union from Mexico, who is not doing too great a job of governing them from so far away, which is indeed the setting for this book.
Rosa is a sweet and likable narrator, and I loved reading about all of the Mexican Catholic customs, festivals, and traditions, as well as the colorful and mostly good-hearted Medina family. Detailed descriptions of other Mexican traditions, such as cock fights and bull fights were prevalent in this book, too. Solid historical fiction with a protagonist worth rooting for.