Message From The Author
by Lauren Spielberg
Someone is trying to kill her. There is no denying that. The lovely Lady Claire Lynes has been called many things in her life: a great beauty, a married lass, a devoted sister and beloved daughter. But adventuresome? Well, now that's pushing it.
In IRRESISTIBLE, bestselling author Karen Robards's 29th novel, the story opens—quite literally—with a cliffhanger. Claire is hanging onto the side of a mountain in a venturesome attempt to flee her kidnappers and save her neck. Hanging on merely feet below where her captors loom and moments away from being discovered, Claire is inadvertently "saved" by a pair of English spies. The suave, even-keeled Hugh and his compatriot James are under orders to collect a Miss Sophy Towbridge, who is suspected of conning
a prominent English lord out of letters containing war-related intelligence. Instead, Claire is mistakenly nabbed for the traitorous Miss Towbridge and after receiving a harsh blow to the head (courtesy of the gun-wielding James), she is carried onto a ship to face new dangers: the boorish, sex-starved crew and the maddeningly handsome Hugh.
Since the release of her first historical novel from Leisure, Island Flame, in 1981, Karen Robards has been giving her characters—and her fans—her all. One of the first historical authors to jump subgenres into contemporary romantic suspense, this busy mother of three successfully returned to her tried-and-true historical roots with 2001's Scandalous.
Karen humbly recounts those early days of her career. "The first book I wrote happened to be a historical romance, just because that's what happened to be selling in the bookstores at that time and that's what I happened to be reading as well," she reminisces. "The second book I wrote was a contemporary romantic thriller called To Love A Man. I wasn't even aware that there were specific subgenres in romance, or even that romance was a genre in itself. I got a wide awakening when the publisher of Island Flame did not want a contemporary from me because I was thought of as a historical writer."
Baffled, Karen was subjected to a quick lesson in Publishing 101—after writing only one novel, she was branded a historical author and unable to sell her second book to Leisure. Karen then wrote two more historicals, including Sea Fire in 1982, the sequel to Island Flame. Left unpublished, however, was To Love A Man, and then finally, with the aid of her agent, it was purchased by Warner Books in 1985. But all still was not won.
Karen says, "As I was already classified as a historical author, Warner wanted me to do a historical first, since bringing out a contemporary by a historical author was considered risky. So I wrote a historical, Amanda Rose, and then they published To Love A Man… After that, seeing that I could write and sell both historicals and contemporaries, they let me alternate."
Shortly thereafter, word spread in the industry that contemporary romances were dead in the water, and Karen's lucrative multi-genre career was at a standstill. With a contract to write historicals for Avon and then, after leaving Warner for Dell in the early nineties, it took several years for the contemporary romance stigma to fade. Dell went out on a limb for the well-received author and released One Summer in 1993, Karen's first-ever hardcover romantic suspense—a genre in which she was wholeheartedly embraced. "For the next few years, that was what I wrote. My books were successful, and I loved them and loved writing them. (Good thing I can do both, because conventional wisdom now had it that historicals were dead.) But I always loved historicals, and always wanted to write a few more."
In 2001 she moved from Dell to Pocket where the opportunity presented itself with an offer from her new publisher to write historicals, alternating them with her hardcover romantic suspenses. "Lo and behold, the paperback historicals have done very, very well. Guess what? The historical market is not any more dead than the contemporary one was a few years ago. If I've learned anything over the course of my career, it's this: the book business is cyclical. Every few years, what was old becomes new again."
If IRRESISTIBLE, Karen's September release from Pocket Books, is any indication of where the future of historical romance is headed, it is a bright one indeed. Karen Robards proves once again that a genre never truly dies, despite industry speculation—and there's no need fixing something that ain't broke.
Look for her next romantic suspense WHISPERS AT MIDNIGHT this December and another historical next summer, Elizabeth Banning's story in RECKLESS.
Excerpt from IRRESISTIBLE
The knot in her stomach twisted tighter. Fighting panic, she willed herself to breathe again and drew in a shaky, quavery draft
of salt-and-fish-tainted air.
It was now or never.
Grasping the jug as if it was her only hope of salvation—which, indeed, it was—Claire drew on every ounce of strength and determination she still possessed and surged to her knees. Her gown jerked free of his hold. [Hugh] looked at her in surprise as his hand fell away. On her knees as she was, with him sitting cross-legged before her, they were practically nose to nose. Their gazes met, locked, for the briefest of moments. He was opening his mouth as if to say something as she swung her improvised weapon at him in a desperate arc. The heavy jug crashed into the side of his face with a sound that was clearly audible over the rushing sea.
"Dammit to bloody hell!"
Clapping a hand to his face, he fell back even as shock waves from the impact shuddered up her arm, nearly making her drop the jug. Hanging on
to it for dear life, her pulse racing, she scrambled clumsily for the side.
The other previously cross-legged man, on his knees now too, snatched a handful of her skirt, pulling her back when she would have dived into the sea. Yanking free, she was undone by the rocking of the boat and toppled against the man she had hit. For a stunned instant Claire felt the hard strength of his body against her back. Then he grabbed her arm, hurting her, and with a strength born of utter desperation she turned on him, beating at him with the jug and screeching like a bedlamite…
The words were a snarl. He was breathing heavily, but his hold on her wrist was as unbreakable as a vise. For an instant, as she drew in much-needed air, she stared into eyes that were, in that gray light, as black and pitiless as twin voids.…
The battle was done.
But no. This battle was for her life, and she would not, could not, be bested while she yet breathed… Still hanging on to the jug for dear life, she leaped for the side. The boat pitched, fortuitously this time, and through no further effort of her own she was suddenly overboard, tumbling headfirst into the freezing depths of the frothing sea.
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