Author Spotlight: Joann Ferguson

Recently I was digging through by box of books labeled “F” and came across an old favorite author, Joann Ferguson.  Ferguson has had a few adventures of her own in addition to writing them, including a stint as an Army quartermaster officer where she was the first and only woman in her unit. She still enjoys traveling to the locations of her books and learning all about those places and people. Researching her novels is part of the fun. Whether it’s ghosts, calling cards, how to fire an antique gun, or traveling to a world that exists only in her imagination, she pays a great deal of attention to the details that delight her reader. She’s even learned a bit of Russian, Arabic, Welsh, and a lot of Regency slang.

Her work has been honored with award nominations from Pearl, ROMY, Romantic Times, Rom/Con, and Affaire de Coeur magazine. Amazon Books chose her novels to showcase. And Romance Writers of America bestowed the two ARTemis Awards for Jo Ann’s Zebra Regencies: The Counterfeit Count and A Christmas Bride.

All of the books I have read by Ferguson have been published by Zebra, their Regency line. (Let me just say I sad I am that they are no longer publishing the regencies!) I just re-read The Convenient Arrangement, however, my favorite are the Priscilla Flanders Mystery Series.  While doing research for this posting I found that she is continuing the story line with a different publisher and I am SOO excited to read it!

When Zebra stopped publishing I did a search for many of my favorite authors and wasn’t able to find them, I guess I needed to give them a little more time to find  new publishers.  I will be searching out more of them and letting you, my readers, know who and where they are.

The books by Ferguson published under the Zebra label all rate as a 1 or 2 but I haven’t read any of her newer works, so if you are relying on my rating system, just be aware.  I will update this post once I have read her newer works.

She also writes historical and paranormal fiction under the name Jocelyn Kelley, but I have not read any of these novels and can’t provide you with a rating.  That being said, I have always  enjoyed Ferguson’s characters, especially the logical thinking  of her heroines (how often does the heroine of a story end up in trouble because she is stupid?!). I am very excited to have found her again and will be reading (and posting) on her books in the future.

Rating: 1 or 2

Joann Ferguson

Jocelyn Kelley

Fantastic Fiction

Author Spotlight: Betty Neels

bettyneelsphotobigwBetty Neels (1910-2001) was a prolific writer whose books are being republished to this day.  Betty was born in England and served as a nurse during WWII where she met her Dutch husband.  Betty, her husband, and their daughter lived in Holland after the war for 13 years until they returned to England.  Betty wrote her first book in 1969 after her retirement from nursing and, by the dint of writing four novels a year, wrote 169 novels before she died at the age of 91.

Betty’s love of Holland is evidenced by the detailed descriptions in her books.  Usually the heroine in the book is a visitor to Holland so the heroine does site seeing in whichever city or town she happens to be staying in. Betty’s books are so detailed regarding the locations of Holland that many fans have used her books to plan their travel itinerary.  (I personally plan to visit Holland someday and will use her novels to help me decide where to visit.)

Betty’s books are always sweet with the main characters having integrity, even when others do not act in the same manner towards them.  My mother was a HUGE fan, collecting all of her books and I remember my first Ebay purchase were the two Betty Neels’ books that my mother was missing from her collection.  Betty Neels wrote for Harlequin for over 30 years.  Most of Betty’s books were published by Harlequin in their regular contemporary romance line but I think it is interesting to note that her books have been continuously published since she wrote them and Harlequin published another series of editions (The Best of Betty Neels) in 2009.  I think (but I am not 100% sure) that she is the only Harlequin author to be continuously published (besides Georgette Heyer) ever.  You would think that the publishers would take note that the two continuous best sellers are both sweet romance novels and not erotica.

My mother loved Betty Neels’ books, she passed that love onto me and now my younger sister (18 years-old) loves her books.  After my mother passed away and we were going through her things, my sister and I started arguing over who got the Betty Neels collection because they are so good.  (Also, we both have fond memories of discussing the books with mom after we finished reading them.)

I highly recommend her books and some are available for ereader at both Amazon.com and eHarlequin.com.

Betty’s story as told by Betty herself.

Homepage dedicated to Betty Neels.

Halequin’s dedication to Betty upon her death in 2001.

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Author Spotlight: Barbara Cartland

bio-sketchOne of the world’s most prolific writers, Barbara Cartland is listed in the Guinness World Record for writing 723 novels and leaving 160 unpublished manuscripts upon her death in 2000.  She survived two World Wars and was awarded the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award at Kennedy Airport USA for her help in devising and creating the first aeroplane-towed glider.  Barbara gathered thousands of white wedding dresses available for rent by women getting married to service men during WWII so they could have a wedding dress to wear to the ceremony.  Barbara was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List by Her Majesty the Queen, for her contribution to literature and for her work for the Community.

Most famous for her romance novels, Barbara also created cookbooks and wrote several biographies.  Born in 1901, Brabara was raised in England and published her first book in 1923.   She is considered the “Queen of Romance” for her contributions to the romance genre. Barbara Cartland’s books have been made into several movies including The Lady and the Highwayman starring Hugh Grant (which I own and laugh through even if it is slightly cheesy).

article-1022081-03AC33CE0000044D-697_468x613I think I read my first Barbara Cartland book when I was about thirteen.  My mother would read them first (to make sure it was clean enough for me to read) and then she would give them to me.  It wasn’t long before I was reading them faster than she was (I know, having five children and working full time doesn’t excuse her from not reading fast enough).  Mom and I both realized that all her books were safe for me to read and I would estimate that I have read at least a hundred of her books.  Most of them take place in Victorian England and involve a beautiful naive girl and a jaded rake.  I love them all!

In my collection of books (which is vast) I have one bin of books just for her because I have so many. (Someday I will have a real library but for now an organized Rubbermaid storage bin is the closest I come.)  Rereading one of her books is like coming home.  I spent long hours in the living room of my parent’s chaotic house curled up in the sun reading (or hanging upside down on the couch, I can’t figure out now why I loved to read upside down so much).  Anyone who asked my mother what she would recommend to read was handed a Barbara Cartland.

Barbara Cartland’s daughter is in the process of getting her unpublished manuscripts finished and published, they can be purchased through the link below at BarbaraCartland.com.  I highly recommend her books and they can be found at any used book store that carries romance novels (see my previous post regarding my experience with used books stores). I hope you pick one up and let me know what you think.

BarbaraCartland.com

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Author Spotlight: Georgette Heyer

georgette_heyer

Ask any romance author or reader who their favorite author is and Georgette Heyer’s name will be mentioned.  Credited with inventing the Regency England genre of  novels, Heyer is still being published today.  I have to admit I own all of her romance books and most of her mysteries.  Georgette Heyer (August 16, 1902-July 4 1974) wrote her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of 21 as a story for her brother.

Heyer was a very private person and spent most of her life refusing interviews.  Most of  Heyer’s novels take place during the same time period as Jane Austen’s but Jane Austen was writing contemporary fiction and Heyer was writing historical novels.   Heyer was incredibly prolific and wrote numerous historical and mystery novels.

Heyer also wrote several novels about famous historical figures including An Infamous Army about Duke Wellington and The Conqueror about William the Conqueror.  Heyer carefully researched and collected facts about the time periods she wrote about, even claiming that she only wrote what Duke Wellington wrote or said.

While I have yet to read a Heyer novel that I don’t love my two favorite are Sylvestor, or the Wicked Uncle and The Grand Sophy.  There are numerous websites and discussion groups out there but I have listed a few here:

www.georgette-heyer.com and www.georgetteheyernovels.com

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