According to Mayan legend, the Xtabentum flower that grows wild on the Yucatan peninsula first appeared on the grave of a free-spirited young woman who was scorned for her passion by the people of her village, but loved by the gods for her kind heart. Xtabentum: A Novel of Yucatan is a story of two young women set in the years following the Mexican Revolution in Merida, Yucatan, one of the wealthiest cities in the world at the time. Amanda Diaz is from the divine caste, a small group of families of European descent who dominate the politics and ecomy of the region. Amanda's lifelong friend, Carmen, is from the opposite end of the social spectrum, a Mayan Indian who is the daughter of one of the Diaz family servants. Against the true historical background of rebellion, discrimination and assassination in the unstable country, the whipping of Carmen by a Diaz neighbor exposes the sheltered existence of the two women and drives them apart. The story follows Amanda through her horror at the social injustice of the two-class Mexico to the sacrifices she makes in the name of friendship. Parts of the story take place in modern times, where the discovery of an old birth certificate sets Amanda's granddaughter in search of a secret about her father's birth. Her search, told in the first person, is blended with a third-person account of the lives of Amanda and her contemporaries in the 1920s.
Rosy Hugener was born and raised in Mexico and is the descendent of one of the most prominent families in Yucatan, a family that has included governors, senators, bishops, historians and journalists. Her family members were participants in many of the historical events described, and old family stories were what inspired Rosa first to researching, and then to writing about, the events in the book. Today, Rosa is a systems engineer who lives in the Chicago area. Carl Hugener is a management consultant who works primarily in the banking industry. He is the author and co-author of a number of white papers and magazine articles on banking issues. His work has appeared in publications such as Banking Strategies, Cards & Payments and Digital Transactions.