Message From The Author
By Kathryn Falk
Some women are born under a lucky star. Michele Jaffe, a brand-new author whose debut series scored her a seven-figure advance, is undoubtedly one of them.
The newest discovery in mainstream women?s fiction, 28-year-old Michele, and her agent, Susan Ginsburg (Writer?s House), have sold Pocket Books on her series of five Renaissance historicals, launching this month with the aptly titled THE STARGAZER.
Reviewed in this issue of RT, THE STARGAZER received 4.5 stars and a
Pick of the Month from RT?s veteran reviewer, Kathe Robin, who not only found it a great read but also ?unpredictable? with ?great sex.?
THE STARGAZER is the first in a series revolving around five brothers, and brims over with an intriguing tangled plot of love and treachery, lust, and above all, wit. But most of all, historical readers will be seduced by Michele?s expertise in the novel?s 16th-century Venetian backdrop?a rare find in historicals today.
The heroine of THE STARGAZER, beautiful and brilliant Bianca Salva, defies the conventions of the day by practicing medicine among the poor in Venice. Arriving at the home of a young courtesan, she finds that the lady has been stabbed to death with a dagger bearing the coat of arms of dashing aristocrat Ian Foscari, Conte D?Aosto. Clutching the dagger, Bianca looks up to see Ian himself, who assumes he?s caught the murderer red-handed.
Determined not to let her out of his sight, he spirits her back to his palace, announcing to
society that she is his fianc?e. Going along with the scheme in hopes of finding the real
murderer, Bianca is reluctantly intrigued by this powerful, sensual man, even as she is immersed
in a dangerous conspiracy.
Michele earned her B.A. at Harvard
in 1991 in the History and Literature
of the Renaissance and wrote her senior thesis on courtesans in?surprise, surprise?16th-century Venice. She then worked for two years at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, where she pored over their rare 18th-century English collection, reading hundreds
of novels (precursors to Jane Austen). Michele also temporarily oversaw their collections of Prints and Ephemera (which includes a lock of Abraham Lincoln?s hair!).
From there it was back to Harvard
for her Ph.D. in comparative literature, which she earned in 1998 with her doctoral dissertation about the Renaissance. That dissertation, titled
?The Story of O: Prostitutes and Other Good-For-Nothings in the Renaissance? will be released as a non-fiction book
this fall through Harvard University Press.
During the course of her academic career, Michele even taught Shakespeare at Harvard. She has also given papers in the U.S. and Italy on topics ranging from the history of accounting in Renaissance Venice to the relationship of decor, decorum and pet-keeping in 18th century France. ?Dull, I am afraid, but that is what I get for hiding away in the library stacks for so long,? she explains, jokingly.
But after grabbing the gold ring and taking a chance, Michele is leaving the schoolroom behind for the romance industry! Michele?s editor, the great Linda Marrow, has proclaimed that the Renaissance and Venice are ?in.? Perhaps we can thank movies like ?Wings of the Dove,? and ?Shakespeare in Love? for drawing attention to a time and place that has been overlooked in popular romance.
Both male and female romance readers will find this a unique historical read. And don?t be surprised if Pocket?s marketing strategy for THE STARGAZER also finds Michele an audience that ordinarily doesn?t buy romance (as happened with Scarlet and Through the Glass Darkly). Historical buffs will love the detail and attention to such an intriguing and tumultuous period of history.
Her sequel, THE WATER NYMPH,
however, is not set in Venice but rather in
Out for a swim in the lake on his estate, the hero, Crispin Foscari, bumps into the most exquisite creature he has ever seen. But before he can get her name, or ascertain if she is even mortal, she disappears, leaving him nothing but the memory of her beauty and her kiss.
The more he learns about this mysterious woman, the more he loves her. When a dangerous secret from her past comes back to haunt her, Crispin vows to protect her?until he learns that he, himself, is her worst enemy?
Currently Michele is researching
her third book. Readers can look for the heroine to have that ?magic touch.?
Romantic Times is thrilled to introduce you to this new author, who had the spunk to do something off-beat in the romance genre, and who used her Ph.D in comparative literature and her intimate knowledge of Venice to leave the world of academia for the richer (and more interesting) world of romantic fiction!
Readers can write to Michele in care of Pocket Books, 1230 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10020.
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