Thursday, April 16, 2009

Author Spotlight for April

This month’s author spotlight is another author who started in romance and moved onto another genre. Probably more readers have read her books as she started writing in 1997. Sadly she left romance behind in 2003 after only seven romances, but she still remains one of my top authors and in my opinion a great writer for April’s Author Spotlight.

The author in question:

Candice Proctor

I discovered Ms. Proctor when her first book was released in 1997.

Night in Eden

Bryony Wentworth's life is shattered when she is convicted of manslaughter and transported to New South Wales in 1808. Sentenced to indentured servitude, she is given to Hayden St. John. A hard, embittered man left with an infant son by the death of his gentle wife, Hayden has little but contempt for the muddy, vermin-ridden convict on whom he must rely. But Bryony is a survivor. As they journey through the outback to Hayden's rugged station, Bryony rediscovers her own strength even as Hayden finds his salvation and rebirth in a love as forbidden and dangerous as the land that surrounds them.

Against the sweeping panorama of a harsh, gorgeous, and unforgiving land, two hungering souls learn to trust, to love, and to triumph over the danger that will shadow their lives--until destiny and desire become one.

I was captivated by Ms Proctor from the first. Night in Eden is a haunting kind of tale with a very damaged heroine. Byronny Wentworth was transported to New South Wales on the charge of murder. Pregnant while on route, during the voyage, she lost her baby. Not only that but she was forced to leave her other daughter behind. Her indenture is purchased by Captain Hayden St. who needs her as a nursemaid to his young motherless son.

If I had to compare Byronny to another heroine, the closest match I can think of is Rachel Wade from Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold. Both heroines start off their stories pretty defeated.

I loved this book and I knew after I finished it that this was an author I would be watching out for. And I wasn’t the only one blown away by this debut. Both The Romance Reader who gave it 5 stars and All About Romance who gave it an A and DIK status loved it too.

So when I spotted her next book in 1998:

The Bequest,

I couldn’t buy it fast enough. Much to my surprise, it was a Western.

What's a girl to do?! When the mother she never knew bequeaths a boomtown bordello and a too-sexy, too-cynical business partner to convent-bred beauty Gabrielle Antoine, she does what any sensible woman would do--she plays the piano in the parlour while her "girls" entertain their "guests." Determined to send the virtuous Gabrielle scurrying back to New Orleans, her new partner, gambler Jordan Hays, embarks on a mission to open her eyes to the seamier, steamier side of life found on the frontier, shocking her to the core with his fiery kisses and caresses that stir unfamiliar, but far from unpleasant feelings in Gabrielle. Much to everyone's surprise, especially Jordan's, Gabrielle refuses to sell out to the unsavoury rival who operates a string of gambling dens and whorehouses under deplorable conditions and who murdered Gabrielle's mother to get his hands on Celeste's Place, the grandest brothel in Central City, Colorado. Now in danger, Gabrielle finds herself under the protective wing of Jordan, the loner whose heart has been locked away since experiencing unspoken atrocities during the Civil War. But Gabrielle's innocence and determination stir Jordan's long-lost sense of chivalry, while her beauty stirs his slumbering libido. And Gabrielle is swept away by the depth of her passion for the rugged Jordan. The gambler and the ingénue join forces to fend off a hostile takeover and to search for a lost gold mine, falling in love along the way.

While this one didn’t strike quite the same chord as Night in Eden, I did really enjoy it and Ms. Proctor was firmly on my auto-buy author list.

Her next book published in 1999,

September Moon

once again was set in early Australia

The Englishwoman... Accepting a job as governess in the wilds of the Australian Outback is the only way Amanda Davenport can earn passage home to her beloved England and away from this rugged, frightening place she hates. Despite her fears, Amanda finds herself gradually drawn to this wild, primitive land as she rediscovers the joys of laughter and love and the irresistible passions of the heart.
The Australian... As he struggles to bring up three irrepressible, motherless children on an isolated station plagued by all the dangers of South Australia in 1865, the last thing Patrick O'Reilly wants is a prudish spinster complicating his life. But it's not too long before he begins to suspect that Miss Davenport is not exactly what she seems.

This book was another winner for me and I’ve read it more then once though not for a while and it kept her firmly on my auto-buy list. I’m not the only one who loved this one. TRR gave it a great review as did AAR.

With her next book in 2000:

The Last Knight,

Candice Proctor once again took a bit of a detour and wrote a Medieval. As I love medievals, when I saw this I was delighted.

A betrothed young noblewoman fiercely loyal to her family and king, Attica d'Alerion is forced to disguise herself as a courtier and ride bravely into danger to warn her brother Stephen of a political betrayal that could lead to war.

Damion de Jarnac is the black knight, a rogue horseman bound by no code of honor except his own ambition. Working for the aging King Henry II, Damion scouts the hills of Brittany on a dangerous mission to expose the treachery of Philip of France. There he joins forces with a courageous lad—who turns out to be the most intriguing woman he has ever met. But to win the beautiful Attica's love, Damion must slay the demons of an unforgivable past. And to save his doomed King, he must make a deadly decision that could break his lady's noble heart.

A haunting tale of passion and redemption as one man's quest for glory becomes an unexpected crusade to save his soul...

With some of her books, it’s been a while since I’ve read them, but I did reread The Last Knight a couple of years ago and l loved it just as much as the first time. Again, both TRR and AAR gave it excellent reviews.

And then we come to 2001 and…..

Whispers of Heaven

After years of schooling in England, Jesmond Corbett returns to her family's estate along the coast of Tasmania. Betrothed since childhood to a wealthy neighbour, Jessie comes home determined to conform to the expectations of her family. But nothing in Jessie's life has prepared her for the mysterious stranger who works in the stables, a man with searing eyes who haunts her dreams and awakens passions she never knew existed.

Irishman Lucas Gallagher arrived on the island in chains, a convict sentenced to a lifetime of labour for the English gentry. For four years he has lived a dead man's existence, using
every spare moment to plan his escape. But when he meets Jessie, she touches his cold, angry heart. And although their love has no future, he finds himself unable to deny the longings that threaten to destroy what may be his last chance to reach for freedom ....

If you look to the left on my sidebar, you will see that Whispers of Heaven is on my all time top five book list and considering all the books I’ve read, that speaks loud and clear on what I think of this book. I’ve read and reread it a number of times now it’s one of those books calling me to read it again. Now I’m sure it will be shouting at me as will all her other books. In polls of favourite heroines, Jesamond Corbett is always the one I choose. I can’t begin to tell you how much I adore her and how brave I think she is. Whispers of Heaven is one of those rare books I hated to see end and in my head I couldn’t let it end and have a few more adventures of Jessie and her Lucas. This one wasn’t reviewed at AAR – a tremendous oversight and I’ve been tempted for a while now to send in one of my own to them. But TRR have a wonderful five star review and capture many of my thoughts on this, one of my all time favourite books.

Her next book in 2001,

Midnight Confessions

again takes another detour in it’s setting.

The year is 1863, and in occupied New Orleans, a young French widow and confirmed pacifist devotes herself to the sick and injured of a grand city now under the heel of a harsh enemy. Then a bizarre death in one of the city's cemeteries puts Emmanuelle de Beauvais at the center of a murder investigation and under the watchful eye of Yankee provost marshal Zachary Cooper. As much as she despises the man's uniform and the war of which he is a part, Emmanuelle finds the man himself difficult to resist.

A career cavalry officer sidelined by a battle wound, Zach Cooper has never been so intrigued by a woman. Even as Emmanuelle veils every truth with layers of lies, Zach finds himself undeniably drawn to her. Torn between passion and duty, Zach must uncover the dark secrets behind a series of murders that threaten to ensnare Emmanuelle in a menacing web...

Unfortunately, this one didn’t work quite as well for me as her previous books. I’ve only read it the once though when it first came out and I feel I need to read it again sometime – to see if it was just the mood I was in when I first read it. And it did still garner a B- at AAR.

And then we come to her final romance book published in 2003

Beyond Sunrise.

Can life ever be a real adventure without falling in love?

Ever since she can remember, India McKnight has craved adventure and dreamed of lands past the horizon. Following her calling, she becom
es a travel writer, vowing never to risk her freedom by falling in love. But when she sails to the exotic and unknown regions of the South Pacific, a rugged man brave enough to be her guide just may be the one who can lay claim to her heart.

Having turned his back on the "civilized" world long ago, Australian Jack Ryder lives in seclusion, hiding from the pain and betrayal buried in his past. When a hardheaded Scotswoman arrives at his hut looking for a guide, he agrees to take her to the island of Takaku—despite the challange—just to prove her stubborn theories about native life wrong. But when their journey turns dangerous, their fates become forever entwined. Chased by cannibals and the British army, forced to rely on each other for their very survival, they soon discover that passion and even deeper peril await them...just beyond the sunrise.

But the good news is it was a return to the earlier style that I loved – and I loved this book!! India is a great heroine, but it’s really Ryder that made this book so special and along with just about all her books, I highly recommend it – as does AAR who gave it another A grade and a DIK.

Now as an author, Candice Proctor is still around but these days she is writing as C.S. Harris and is writing a rather intriguing sounding historical mystery series, the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries.

And once again – what can an Author Spotlight be without a chance to win a couple? I have a copy of the wonderful Whispers of Heaven and the delightful The Last Knight.

I will make the draw a week from today, Thursday, April 23.


Nikki said...

I would love to win one of her books. Please enter (and pick) me!

Carolyn Jean said...

Don't enter me - I've had way too much contest luck lately and want to give someone else a chance, but wow, this sounds fantastic. It's nice to see an author evolve and change and go through different interests and phases, and really, there are some fine historical mysteries coming out these days! Thanks for the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kristi!! I don't know if it's a sign that I won't win but I'm over here reading and I get booted off! Hmmm...what the heck enter me anyway!

I haven't even heard of this author! Thanks for filling me in.

Have a great weekend!!

Phyl said...

It's been awhile since I've posted a comment here, but I have to chime in say how much I agree with you about CP. I only discovered her a few years ago--fortunately my library had copies of her books. Whispers of Heaven is an awesome book and it has one of the best endings I've ever read. I thought about it for weeks afterwards. I like the variety in her writing--she's like Laura Kinsale that way.

Great post Kristie. But you don't need to enter me in your contest.

Kristie (J) said...

Booted off!! Yikes! I know that the blogs I'm checking are Very Slow at loading - maybe it's not just my computer like I thought it was.
Anway - you're entered in the draw and even if you don't win, I heartily recommend trying to find some of this authors work - for me the books specially would be Night in Eden and Whispers of Heaven. They really are wonderful.

CJ: Heh heh - you were lucky in the one weren't you? And what really impressed me with Candice Proctor was how she wrote such wonderful books in such totally different settings. Yet I read that she was actually criticized for doing this!!

Nikki: You're in and I would love to give everyone a copy of one of her books because she is a wonderful author and her books are so good - but alas, I don't have that many copies and postage rates would break me. But I didn't have any problem at all finding a number of her books at a UBS - just in case you aren't one of the lucky ones.

Kristie (J) said...

Phyl: Isn't Whispers of Heaven wonderful????? I plan on doing a fuller review when this book's cries get too loud for me to ignore. But it was SO hard to move on from this one when I finished it that it's one of the few I reread as soon as I did 'cause once just wasn't enough right away. And I've read it a few times since then too.

ReneeW said...

Proctor was one of my fav romance authors. I have read all but two of these. NiE and WoH are my absolute favorites of hers. I have also read all of her mysteries and really enjoyed them but they just aren't as good without the romance IMHO (I gave them all a B). Don't enter me - I already have copies of these.

orannia said...

I think I will echo CJ and ask not to be entered, especially as I won your last Author Spotlight contest :)

Now as an author, Candice Proctor is still around but these days she is writing as C.S. Harris and is writing a rather intriguing sounding historical mystery series, the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries.I've read the first CS Harris book and thought it was very good! The second is on my TBR list!

Bridget Locke said...

Ooooooh! Sounds very interesting. I *heart* you, Kristie. You spotlight these authors that have usually been forgotten. :)

Anonymous said...

I only just heard about this author and have a couple out from the library; you've made me go pull Night in Eden off the pile. -- willaful

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Kristie!

These books sound great! And I love the author spotlight, it's really working for me!

I'd love a chance to win, so enter me please!

Dottie :)

Maija P. said...

Do you send abroad?

Thanks for this post. I had heard about Proctor before, but never looked closely what her books were about. Now I read these back blurbs and they sounded very nice. Please count me in if this is an international contest!


Kristie (J) said...

Maija: Yep - open to anyone anywhere so you are in.

Dottie: They are wonderful - well most of them and you are in too.

Willaful: You have a good read ahead of you :) NIE is a wonderful emotional read.

Bridget: That's one of the benefits of being a long time reader. I've read quite a few 'older' books that haven't been around for a while.

Orannia: I haven't tried her C.H. Harris books though I have the first one. I'm still to sad she isn't writing romance anymore to read it - though I hear there is a small one in her mystery series.

Renee: I think we've chatted before about that a wonderful author Candice Proctor is - and what a loss to the romance genre that she left it behind.

nath said...

Sigh, Kristie... Now, I need to make another trip to the UBS!!! LOL :)

Night of Eden sounds very good!! so far, I'm liking the back blurbs, so I guess I'll be giving her a try! :)

Thanks for the spotlight!

Amy said...

OMG, I think I have about all of these in my TBR.

Kristie (J) said...

Ah: Amy - then you need to do some book climbing *g* Most of these are well worth digging through that pile!!

Nath: NIE IS very good - but Whispers of Heaven is my favourite. And it's fun to do these - it's like a trip down memory lane.

azteclady said...

Kristie please email me?

Carrie Lofty said...

I love her books. Adore them. I actually have two left that I haven't read because I feel like a) I need to savor my unreads among her backlist and b) that I need to gear up for the emotional turmoil of her stories. Absolute magic. Of course I found her because of my obsessions with unusual historicals, starting with NiE, but I stayed because she's just mind-blowingly good. Lucas in WoH, his desperation and pain--gah! Just heartbreaking.

Wendy said...

I really shouldn't admit this on your blog, since all I'm doing is giving you more "nagging ammunition" to use against me in July.

I haven't read Proctor yet. I know Kristie! And naturally I have 4 (count 'em 4!) of her books in the TBR That Can Be Seen From Space. Whispers Of Heaven, September Moon, Night In Eden and The Bequest.

Seriously, it's a sickness.

Phyl said...

Wendy--Whispers of Heaven sitting in a TBR pile? That's. Just. Wrong.

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

I haven't had the pleasure of reading any of her books, and historicals appeal to me. The plots all sound interesting. I am wondering how I missed this author, but would love an opportunity to read her work!

My own debut historical romance novel, "Fire at Midnight" was just released last month by Medallion Press.

PeggyP said...

Well, I've been under a rock or something - I love CS Harris but had no idea she wrote under another name. I must have these books! I'm on a quest to glom whatever I can find!

Anonymous said...

NiE was great! I can't tell you how many half-finished historicals I have lying around right now. This one I just read straight through, stopping under protest to eat and sleep. I am so annoyed the library doesn't have Whispers of Heaven! -- willaful

tetewa said...

This would be a new author for me, would love to be included!

Kristie (J) said...

tetewa: She is a wonderful author and I'd love to see her rediscovered!! Then maybe we might get another romance now and then. And consider yourself in the draw.

Willaful: And as wonderful as NIE is - and it really is - Whispers of Heaven is even better, at least for me. So good luck in winning :)

PeggP: And another tidbit of info I neglected to mention - did you know she is also the sister of Penelope Williamson, another wonderful romance author who also moved onto the mystery genre?

Lisa Marie: And you too now have a chance to win two of her books. And in other news *g* there is a copy of Fire at Midnight en route to me in the Canadian Mail even as I write this (or maybe not since it's Saturday) but I recently ordered it online from Chapters and received notification that it had shipped so I'm hoping it's here by Tuesday.

Phy: You tell her!!

Wendy: *grinning* I seem to recall a Wendy, Wendy, Wendy conversation almost three years ago now concerning WoH. And you STILL haven't tried her. Wendy, Wendy, Wendy.

Carrie: The ending of WoH is just about one of the most emotional, brave ones I've ever read. It still gets to me all these years later!!

Eva S said...

This is a new-to-me author,many historicals in my TBR pile but no Candice Proctor. Her books sound great, I'll look for them even if older books are hard to find over here...

Kristie (J) said...

Eva: Well, you are now entered so with luck there will be two less you have to look for :-)

nath said...

The UBS had a bunch of her books, but I resisted. I'm going to try to find NIE and WoH first :)

nath said...

and they were expensive, even for a UBS. Personally, am I the only one who thinks that 6$ for a used book is a lot?

KarLynP said...

I read Whispers of Heaven a few weeks ago based on your top-5 recommendation, and just loved it! (Since I read and loved the other 4from your list I felt it was a sure thing - and I was right.) I picked up the rest of her books off of PBS, so I don't need to be entered in the contest. I just wanted to say thanks for bringer this author to my attention. What I do need to win is TIME so I can read all of these great books!!

Kristie (J) said...

KarLyn: Thank you for posting!!!! Wasn't WoH wonderful??? The end - and the choice - just about made me cry. I think Jessie is such a well-written character. The only one of her books I don't recommend without hesitation is Midnight Confessions - and I did like that book. I just didn't feel it was quite up to the caliber of her other books. I'd love to know what you think of the rest of them.
And I hear you about time!! There just isn't enough of it anymore is there?

Nath - that is a lot for a used book!! Usually they are just have the cover price!