Married; two children. Education: University of Utah, B.A. (journalism), 1986.
Office—P.O. Box 270704, Flower Mound, TX 75027-0704. E-mail—[email protected].
Romance novelist. America West Airlines, flight attendant, 1986-93.
RITA Award for best first book, Romance Writers of America, 1998, for My Darling Caroline.
My Darling Caroline, Jove (New York, NY), 1998.
Stolen Charms, Jove (New York, NY), 1999.
Winter Garden, Jove (New York, NY), 2000.
Someone Irresistible, Avon (New York, NY), 2001.
When It's Perfect, Avon (New York, NY), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Duke of Sin, the first book in a trilogy for Avon Romantic Treasures.
Having tried her hand at beauty pageants, singing, and working as a flight attendant, all with somewhat limited success, Adele Ashworth decided to try writing the kind of books she'd always loved to read: romance novels. As she wrote on her Web site, "her first book …took only three months to write and was never published because, quite frankly, it was pretty darn bad." But her next effort, My Darling Caroline, was not only published, it won a RITA award for best first book and established Ashworth's reputation as a solid writer of Regency and Victorian romances. Throughout it all, Ashworth has struggled with clinical depression, anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which were often misdiagnosed throughout her life, and she does what she can to raise awareness of these sometimes crippling mental illnesses.
My Darling Caroline tells the story of Caroline Grayson, a baron's daughter with more interest in science and math than clothes and dancing and the other distractions that are supposed to captivate a young lady of her position. Rejected by Oxford University as a woman, Caroline invents a male identity for herself and is accepted by Columbia University in New York. But before she departs, her wealthy father bribes attractive but penniless Brent Ravenscroft, earl of Weymerth, to marry his seemingly unmarriageable daughter. Outraged, Caroline eventually agrees to the marriage, but secretly vows to have the marriage annulled as soon as she gets to New York; a plan that will necessitate keeping her husband, eager for an heir, out of her bed until then. According to Lesley Dunlap in Romance Reader, "Ashworth has written some of the best sexual tension I've read in a long time.… Unlike many stories where the heroine refuses to succumb to the lure of the hunky hero only because the book would end at page 50 if she didn't, Caroline's resistance is the result of the lessons of a lifetime." For Booklist reviewer Alexandra Baker, "Ashworth's smart dialogue, complex characters, and complicated plot twists make this debut novel a joy to read."
Ashworth's Stolen Charms is the story of Natalie Haislett, a young lady bored by the parade of eligible, but dull, gentlemen her parents keep introducing to her. Instead, Natalie dreams of meeting the Black Knight, a notorious thief. There is one problem: to meet him she must go through Jonathan Drake, a well-known womanizer who gently, but firmly, rejected her attentions some years earlier. Overcoming her mortification, Natalie ultimately enlists Jonathan in her quest, and the two set off for the Continent to track down the Black Knight. Naturally, things turn complicated, as Natalie's feelings for Jonathan are rekindled, and his own feelings prove to be rather more ambivalent than she suspected. While finding it somewhat "difficult to make a solid connection with" Natalie, Romance Reader reviewer Karen Lynch found that Stolen Charms "is like a breath of fresh air. An intelligent story by a most talented writer."
In Winter Garden, Ashworth's next title, it is a hero who takes center stage. Thomas Blackwood is a government agent sent to a village in order to expose a nobly born opium dealer. A scholarly loner, Black-wood finds himself drawn into the world of Winter Garden, particularly when Madeleine DuMais, a celebrated French beauty who serves as an English spy, is sent to help Blackwood in his task. Romance Reader contributor Tina Engler particularly noted the strength of character development in the novel. "The author has penned a hero who, for lack of a better description, simply takes your breath away.…The heroine is just as intricately crafted and just as able to draw out your emotions. She's a woman readers can relate to, much more readily than the innocent doe-eyed virgins most historicals are centered around."
For her next book, Ashworth chose an unusual theme in Victorian romances: dinosaur bones. In the novel, Professor Nathan Price is set to unveil his prized fossil of a Megalosaurus jawbone appearing at the Great Exhibition of 1851, but when the actual unveiling takes place the display case is empty. Someone has stolen the rare jawbone, and a disgraced Price is laughed out of the British scientific establishment. A few years later, he devises a plan. He will have the fossil re-created as a sculpture, unveil it at an important scientific exhibit, and watch the reactions to see if he can detect the thief. To do so he enlists the services of skilled dinosaur sculptress Mimi Marsh—the very woman whose kiss had distracted him at the moment his fossil was being stolen. It is a delicate situation, with Price relying on Marsh's help, even as he begins to suspect she had a hand in the original theft. "Ashworth aptly conveys the impact that fossil discoveries had on Victorian society, but her characters lack the sympathetic dimensions and intelligence of those of her previous novels," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Similarly, All about Romance contributor Rachel Potter found that "The dinosaur angle was very interesting." However, she wrote, "The largest problem I had was that I felt that the sexual side of Nathan's and Mimi's relationship was more developed than the emotional side.… I never felt convinced that their love for each other was much deeper than sexual attraction." Others were more pleased. Carla Hosom, a contributor to the Romance and Friends Web site, wrote, "Without a doubt you MUST pick up Someone Irresistible by Adele Ashworth. You'll be glued to the page, completely entertained until you've turned that last page, where you'll feel disappointed the story couldn't go on forever."
In Ashworth's When It's Perfect Mimi Marsh's sister Mary takes center stage. A spinster who makes a living sewing undergarments for fashionable young ladies, Mary has been staying at the home of earl of Renn, preparing a trousseau for the earl's sister's upcoming wedding. Sadly, the wedding never takes place, for the story opens with the bride's death. Marcus, the earl, who has spent the last four years on archeological digs, soon returns, determined to get to the bottom of his sister's sudden death. That necessitates getting to know Mary, a woman with dark secrets of her own. Fortunately, she's not entirely averse to the attention. The book "is a little slow to build up steam," wrote Romance Reader reviewer Wendy Crutcher. However, "All of this groundwork pays off in spades by the second half of the story, when the sexual tension takes on plenty of heat and the couple finally succumbs." According to a Publishers Weekly contributor, "Mary very modernly thinks of 'working through' her guilt in regards to her own family issues.… Nevertheless, Mary and Marcus's feelings that they've found soul mates in each other rings true."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1998, Alexandra Baker, review of My Darling Caroline, p. 207.
Publishers Weekly, November 19, 2001, review of Someone Irresistible, p. 53; October 28, 2002, review of When It's Perfect, p. 57.
Adele Ashworth Web site,http://www.adeleashworth.com (January 20, 2003).
All about Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (January 20, 2003), Rachel Potter, review of Someone Irresistible.
Romance and Friends,http://romanceandfriends.com (December, 2000), Carla Hosom, review of Someone Irresistible.
RomanceReader.com,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (September 15, 1998), Lesley Dunlap, review of My Darling Caroline; (September 7, 1999) Karen Lynch, review of Stolen Charms; (June 29, 2000) Tina Engler, review of Winter Garden; (May 28, 2003) Wendy Crutcher, review of When It's Perfect. *