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Bradley, Celeste 1964-

Bradley, Celeste 1964-

PERSONAL:

Born 1964; married Bill Bradley (a sports editor; divorced); children: two daughters.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New Mexico. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer.

WRITINGS:

Fallen, Dorchester Publishing Company (New York, NY), 2001.

(Contributor) My Scandalous Bride, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2004.

"LIAR'S CLUB" SERIES

The Impostor, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2003.

The Pretender, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2003.

The Charmer, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2004.

The Spy, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2004.

The Rogue, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2005.

"ROYAL FOUR" SERIES

To Wed a Scandalous Spy, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2005.

Surrender to a Wicked Spy, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2005.

One Night with a Spy, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2006.

Seducing the Spy, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2006.

"HEIRESS BRIDES" SERIES

Desperately Seeking a Duke, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2008.

The Duke Next Door, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2008.

Duke Most Wanted, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Romance writer Celeste Bradley made her writing debut with the novel Fallen, the story of a notorious London bachelor and a spinster housekeeper who make a sham engagement to secure his inheritance and her independence. The pair is surprised to discover that they are strongly attracted to each other. This theme of deception and unsought romance is further developed in Bradley's subsequent series of novels, the "Liars Club" books.

The first "Liar's Club" novel, The Pretender, focuses on Simon Montague Rain, one of a group of spies who serve the British crown during the Regency period. As part of an investigation into the murder of several fellow spies, he must infiltrate the home of the beautiful Mrs. Agatha Applequist to search for a traitor. But Agatha has her own secrets: she has arrived in London posing as a married woman so that she can travel unchaperoned to look for her missing brother James. She now wants Simon, who appears as a chimney sweep, to act as her husband at a social event. Both come to thoroughly enjoy their relationship of convenience, but it becomes problematic for Simon when it threatens his resolve to follow the Liar's Club rule of never falling in love. The often humorous adventure appealed to Booklist reviewer John Charles, who called the novel "a witty and delectable combination of superbly crafted characters and an intrigue- steeped plot." Library Journal contributor Kristin Ramsdell called the premise "a wonderful idea" and recommended the book to "readers who like their historicals laced with laughter yet on the mysterious side."

In The Impostor, Bradley concocts a romance featuring the young widow Clara Simpson and Liar's Club member Dalton Montmorency. Under the name Sir Thorogood, she secretly pens political cartoons that anger the Crown. When Dalton poses as the cartoonist, hoping to press the real artist into revealing his identity, Clara also assumes a disguise to discover who the impostor is. When their paths cross, he thinks she is a maid and she assumes that he is a burglar, deceptions that do not dull the resulting spark of romantic interest. A Publishers Weekly writer called The Impostor a "delightful comedy of errors."

The heroine of The Spy is Phillipa Atwater, a young woman who is forced to assume the guise of a male tutor when her father goes missing. To her surprise, she is quickly hired by James Cunnington, whom her father bid her to watch in a cryptic message. At the same time, James is searching for Phillipa, but she does not know it. According to Booklist critic John Charles, The Spy contains "wonderfully witty writing" and is "every bit as much fun" as its predecessors.

The Charmer is the fourth installment in "The Liar's Club" series. Its central characters are spies-in-training Collis Tremayne and Rose Lacey. When their adversarial behavior threatens the school, both are tested to see if they will in fact make good spies. Rose is unsuccessful in her test mission, but she uncovers other important developments in London. Noting that allusions to pop culture are an important element in Bradley's humor, Nina C. Davis commented in Booklist that The Charmer is "sure to provide a pleasant few hours' diversion."

The fifth installment in Bradley's "Liar's Club" series, The Rogue features Ethan Damont. Ethan got involved with the Liar's Club once before and the experience is not one he is anxious to revisit. However, when they inform him that their latest mission has something to do with Lady Jane Pennington, Ethan finds himself forced to set his reluctance aside. Lord Harold Maywell, Jane's uncle, is suspected of traitorous behavior, and the assignment involves determining whether or not he is still loyal to the Crown. Ethan finds Jane fascinating, and so agrees to investigate her uncle, in part hoping to be able to spend some time with her during his assignment, and in part fearing any hint that she might be involved in her uncle's dealings. John Charles, in a review for Booklist, declared this latest Bradley effort to be "passionate, perilous, and laced with insouciant charm."

Bradley kicks of her "Royal Four" series with To Wed a Scandalous Spy. The hero of each of the four stories in the series is a member of an elite and powerful group of spies working to protect England from threats both foreign and domestic. Heroine Willa Trent has a knack for getting herself into tight spots. As the story begins, she has managed to knock down a hornets' nest just in time to knock a man off his horse as he rides by at a gallop. Willa pulls the man away from the swarming insects, but it was never her intention to put him in a compromising position. However, when the man wakes the next morning and discovers they have shared a bed, he promptly proposes, and Willa soon finds herself wed to Nathaniel Stonewell, the Earl of Reardon, more recently known as Lord Treason. However, Willa cannot believe this good-hearted man really sold England out to the French, so she sets out to prove his innocence. John Charles, again reviewing for Booklist, remarked that the book is "rich in delicious wit, rife with danger and passion, and featuring some splendidly unconventional characters." The series continues with Surrender to a Wicked Spy, One Night with a Spy, and Seducing the Spy.

The "Heiress Bride" series, Bradley's next group of books, starts off with Desperately Seeking a Duke, which was released early in 2008. The novel features Phoebe Millbury, newly arrived in London along with her two cousins, and in search of a husband from among the men of the ton. But no ordinary husband will do—he must be a duke. By a strange quirk of her grandfather's will, Phoebe or one of her cousins must marry a duke, and the one achieving such a lofty goal will automatically become the beneficiary of their grandfather's estate. However, if all of the girls should fail to capture a duke for their husband, the money will revert to smugglers instead. The daughter of a vicar, Phoebe has already earned her father's displeasure once in her short life, and she now must remain the very model of propriety for fear of incurring his anger and further shame. But when the illegitimate brother of Calder, Marquis of Brookhaven, begins to pay her some atten- tion, Phoebe finds all of her good intentions flying straight out the window. John Charles, in a Booklist review, commented that "Bradley presents exceptionally entertaining characters."

Bradley told CA: "I am heavily influenced by the Board of Directors of Genre Fiction: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Steven King and J.K. Rowling. Substance, style, simplicity, and savvy, respectively.

"Once I have sold an idea, I begin very randomly, in a process I call ‘pop-corning,’ where I allow bits of dialogue, plot points and character delineation to flow for several weeks. I might write an end scene first and decide to let it color every scene leading up to it. At some point, I have to pull it all together and make decisions about what goes and what stays. With approximately a third of the book done at that point, I will make a flow chart that allows me to instantly refer to the entire plot at any point. Then I set to work filling in what's missing and expanding what is there. At the end of the first draft, I read it straight through with fresh eyes. Other drafts will include plot changes, building transitions and line editing. The very last thing I do is create chapters. I feel that working without chapter divisions gives my books the runaway-train pace that my readers have come to expect from me.

"The fear of failure never goes away. Every book starts with a wave of panic that I will never be clever or dedicated enough to fill an entire ream of paper with something that people will actually want to read. I turn to my fellow writers and friends to help me through this rather nauseating period of hesitation and delay.

"I love Fallen. It was written before I learned any of the formulaic conventions of romance writing and it is the most natural and unpredictable of my books. Also, the heroine feels like a best friend.

"My primary purpose in writing is to provide escapist fiction to hard-working women. I read all genres myself and I am deeply committed to universal literacy as the vehicle for social tolerance."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2003, John Charles, review of The Pretender, p. 1583; February 1, 2004, John Charles, review of The Spy, p. 954; October 1, 2004, Nina C. Davis, review of The Charmer, p. 315; February 1, 2005, John Charles, review of To Wed a Scandalous Spy, p. 948; June 1, 2005, John Charles, review of The Rogue, p. 1763; March 15, 2008, John Charles, review of Desperately Seeking a Duke, p. 35.

Library Journal, May 15, 2003, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Pretender, p. 72.

Publishers Weekly, September 22, 2003, review of The Impostor, p. 90; May 3, 2004, review of My Scandalous Bride, p. 177.

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