Married; children: one son, one daughter. Hobbies and other interests: Playing competitive volleyball, gardening.
Home—New Orleans, LA.
Author. Worked as an image consultant, beginning 1983; tutor with Start the Adventure in Reading, New Orleans, LA.
Best Medieval Romance by a New Author from Romantic Times, and First-Time Romance Author Award from Waldenbooks, both for My Gallant Enemy.
My Gallant Enemy, Dell (New York, NY), 1991.
The Rose of Blacksword, Dell (New York, NY), 1992.
Christmas Journey, Dell (New York, NY), 1992.
A Dove at Midnight, Dell (New York, NY), 1993.
Where Magic Dwells, Dell (New York, NY), 1994.
When Lightning Strikes, Dell (New York, NY), 1995.
Heart of the Storm, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1995.
Thief of My Heart, Dell (New York, NY), 1996.
The Maiden Bride, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1996.
Dangerous to Love, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1997.
The Bride of Rosecliffe (first novel in a trilogy), St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1998.
The Knight of Rosecliffe (second novel in a trilogy), St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1999.
The Mistress of Rosecliffe (third novel in a trilogy), St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2000.
The Matchmaker, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2001.
The Troublemaker (sequel to The Matchmaker), St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2001.
The Bridemaker (sequel to The Troublemaker), St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2002.
The Heartbreaker (sequel to The Bridemaker), St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2003.
Old Boyfriends, Harlequin (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
The Payback Club, Harlequin (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
Work represented in anthologies, including A Dance with the Devil, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1997, and Scandalous Weddings, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1998.
Rexanne Becnel has made her name as a popular author of romance fiction. Starting off with romances set in medieval Britain, she later branched out into nineteenth-century historicals and contemporary romances. Becnel's original occupation was as a partner in an image consulting business. In an interview with A Romance Review online, she related: "My partner and I were great at the make-overs, but we were awful at selling makeup and beauty products. As the business began to go downhill, I started writing 'the great American novel' during slow times at the shop. Then I read an eye-opening article in Cosmopolitan about writing for the romance genre. I'd never read a romance, but after a visit to the bookstore, I realized that's exactly what I was writing. That's when I became driven. I wrote constantly—six books in less than four years before I finally sold one."
Her debut novel became My Gallant Enemy, a tale set in thirteenth-century England about a young woman who must submit to marrying a knight from a family with whom her own family is feuding. Penny Kaganoff, writing in Publishers Weekly, found this first work less than original: "Becnel treads the well-worn path from lovers' obligatory battle of wills to predictable reconciliation." Similarly, Becnel's next medieval romance, The Rose of Blacksword, was called "tediously formulaic" by another Publishers Weekly contributor. Nevertheless, as the author continued to write, her later novels received warmer critical attention. Her "Rosecliffe" trilogy, which details the relationships between Welsh and English families in the thirteenth century after Wales has won an important war, was praised by several reviewers. Commenting on The Bride of Rosecliffe, for example, Ann Bouricius stated in Booklist that the "plot contains enough twists, turns, and betrayals to keep the reader thoroughly engaged." Reviewing the sequel in another Booklist assessment, Bouricius felt that The Knight of Rosecliffe has "enjoyable characters and is strongly plotted and quickly paced." Assessing this book, too, a Publishers Weekly critic wrote that Becnel "brings the Middle Ages to life."
Becnel sets a number of her romances in the Victorian and Regency periods, as well. These are popular time periods for many romance novelists, and Becnel has contributed to this subgenre more or less successfully, according to reviewers. Novels such as Heart of the Storm were praised as enjoyable and well-written adventure/romances. In this story of two women kidnapped by a rogue captain plotting revenge on their family, Becnel creates "a beautifully constructed, entertaining story marred only by the occasional wimpiness of its otherwise appealing heroine," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. The author later created a series of related titles with The Matchmaker, The Troublemaker, The Bridemaker and The Heartbreaker. Featuring strong-willed female protagonists facing challenges while navigating nineteenth-century English society and marriage, these titles were observed to be "generally darker than the typical Regency fare," according to one Publishers Weekly writer. Reviewing The Bridemaker in another Publishers Weekly article, a critic felt that her heroines' thinking is sometimes "too modern for the period," but otherwise praised the author for "breath[ing] life into the rigid Regency-era romance genre."
Also writing novels set in modern times that might be characterized by some critics as "chick-lit" books, Becnel has penned stories about female friends and romance. For example, Old Boyfriends is the story of three California women returning to their childhood home of New Orleans for a class reunion. The characters are struggling with various personal issues ranging from husband and children problems to being overweight, and as they prepare for the reunion they all entertain thoughts of spicing up their lives by seeing their old boyfriends again. Critics felt that Becnel does an excellent job with contemporary fiction. Booklist reviewer Maria Hatton asserted that the author's "ability to create mature, appealing characters is matchless." Kristin Ramsdell, writing for Library Journal, described Old Boyfriends as a "lively, sometimes funny tale." Praising the author for her ability to show how "actual women think," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "Becnel is just as much at home writing high-quality contemporary fiction as penning the historical fiction for which she's known."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1998, Ann Bouricius, review of The Bride of Rosecliffe, p. 207; June 1, 1999, Ann Bouricius, review of The Knight of Rosecliffe, p. 1802; September 15, 2000, Nina Davis, review of Dangerous to Love, p. 225; October 15, 2002, Maria Hatton, review of The Bridemaker, p. 393; October 1, 2003, Maria Hatton, review of The Heartbreaker; August, 2005, Maria Hatton, review of Old Boyfriends, p. 2004.
Library Journal, May 15, 1994, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Where Magic Dwells, p. 65; August 1, 2005, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Old Boyfriends, p. 63.
Publishers Weekly, June 15, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of My Gallant Enemy, p. 65; May 18, 1992, review of The Rose of Blacksword, p. 64; November 8, 1993, review of The Christmas Wish, p. 72; May 16, 1994, review of Where Magic Dwells, p. 62; January 16, 1995, review of When Lightning Strikes, p. 452; October 16, 1995, review of Heart of the Storm, p. 54; July 15, 1996, review of The Maiden Bride, p. 72; May 17, 1999, review of The Knight of Rosecliffe, p. 76; September 3, 2001, review of The Troublemaker, p. 69; October 7, 2002, review of The Bridemaker, p. 58; June 27, 2005, review of Old Boyfriends, p. 47.
School Library Journal, November, 1995, review of When Lightning Strikes, p. 141.
All about Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (September 11, 2004), Marianne Stillings, reviews of Scandalous Weddings and The Matchmaker; Claudia S. Terrones, review of The Mistress of Rosecliffe; Sandy Coleman, review of The Bridemaker.
A Romance Review,http://www.aromancereview.com/ (December 1, 2003), interview with Rexanne Becnel.
Best Reviews,http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (October 9, 2001), Harriet Klausner, review of The Troublemaker; (January 1, 2002), Jody Allen, review of The Troublemaker.
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (September 11, 2004), Bev Hill, review of The Bride of Rosecliffe; Ann McGuire, review of The Knight of Rosecliffe; B. Kathy Leitle, review of The Mistress of Rosecliffe; Nancy J. Silberstein, review of The Troublemaker; Jean Mason, review of The Matchmaker.
Romantic Times Book Club,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (September 11, 2004), Kathe Robin, reviews of Scandalous Weddings and The Bridemaker. *