Bretton, Barbara 1950–

views updated

Bretton, Barbara 1950–

PERSONAL: Born June 25, 1950, in New York, NY; daughter of Melvin Cassen and Viola Fuller; married Roy Bretton, September 8, 1968. Education: Attended Queens College, City University of New York. Hobbies and other interests: Nature, photography, watercolor painting, deltiology (postcard collecting).

ADDRESSES: Home—Hillsborough, NJ. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Novelist. Cross Country, Syosset, NY, computer programmer, 1974–82.

MEMBER: Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Novelists Inc., Romance Writers of America.

AWARDS, HONORS: Has received Reviewer's Choice and Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times, gold and silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur, Romance Writers of America Region 1 Golden Leaf Award, and several Bookrak bestseller awards; Lifetime Achievement Award as Series Storyteller of the Year, Romantic Times, 1991.

WRITINGS:

ROMANCE NOVELS

Love Changes, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1983.

The Sweetest of Debts, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1984.

No Safe Place, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1985.

Starfire, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1985.

The Edge of Forever, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1986.

Promises in the Night, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1986.

Shooting Star, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1986.

One and Only, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1994.

The Invisible Groom, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1994.

Maybe This Time, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Guilty Pleasures, MIRA Books (Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Operation: Baby, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1997.

Sleeping Alone, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Always, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Operation: Family, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1998.

Once Around, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1998.

The Day We Met, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1999.

At Last, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2000.

A Soft Place to Fall, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Shore Lights, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Girls of Summer (sequel to A Soft Place to Fall), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Chances Are (sequel to Shore Lights), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Someone like You, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of Second Harmony, Nobody's Baby (reprinted as Men: Made in America), Mother Knows Best, Mrs. Scrooge (reprinted as By Request), Bundle of Joy (reprinted as Here Come the Grooms), Daddy's Girl, Renegade Lover, Sentimental Journey, Stranger in Paradise, Playing for Time, Honeymoon Hotel, A Fine Madness, All We Know of Heaven, The Bride Came C.O.D., and Operation: Husband. Author of historical novels The Perfect Wife, Harlequin Historical (Buffalo, NY); The Reluctant Bride, Harlequin Historical (Buffalo, NY); Fire's Lady, Crown (New York, NY); and Midnight Lover, Pocket Books (New York, NY).

"TIME TRAVEL" TRILOGY

Somewhere in Time, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1992.

Tomorrow and Always, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1994.

Destiny's Child, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1995.

OTHER

Contributor of novellas to anthologies, including To Have and to Hold, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY); Love and Laughter, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY); The Christmas Cat, Berkley (New York, NY), 1996; and New Year's Resolution: Baby, Harlequin (Buffalo, NY), 1998. Contributor of short stories and articles to periodicals, including Seventeen, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and Ingenue. Bretton's works have been translated into twelve languages and published in twenty different countries.

SIDELIGHTS: Barbara Bretton is a dyed-in-the-wool romantic. After growing up in Queens, New York, and living as an adult on Long Island, Bretton and her first and only love, husband Roy Bretton, moved to central New Jersey in the mid-1990s. There she was inspired by her new surroundings to begin her career as a romance novelist. Among her books are At Last, Once Around, and the "Time Travel" trilogy.

Bretton knew that she wanted to be a writer from a very young age. When she was ten years old, she sold a story to the "Katy Keene" comic book series. Although she went to college and took a job as a computer programmer, Bretton continued to work toward a career as a writer. During her twenties she contributed short stories and articles—primarily "how-to" pieces—to various periodicals, including the New York Times and Seventeen.

When she was twenty-nine years old, Bretton's life changed when she triumphed over a bout with cancer. This profound experience made Bretton determined to follow her true path in life. She concentrated on fiction, and her first published novel, Love Changes, was released as a launch book in Harlequin's American Romances line in 1983. This novel was followed by many other Bretton-penned romantic novels.

By the mid-1990s Bretton had attained a wider realm of success with mainstream novels and historical romances. Crucial in this transition was 1994's One and Only, which a Library Journal critic dubbed as the author's "breakout novel" and which was compared favorably to the work of Judith Krantz by a contributor to Publishers Weekly. Set in the world of British royalty and its wealthy American equivalents, One and Only features Princess Isabelle who, when forced to leave the castle by her older sister Juliana, goes to New York. There, a marriage to a Kennedy-style hero creates problems of succession back home. The Publishers Weekly writer raved that "this seductive novel simmers with international intrigue, sex and betrayal."

Another notable production from Bretton's prolific output is the "Time Travel" trilogy, which she published between 1992 and 1995. In the series, contemporary American women travel back to the time of the American Revolution, and characters from that time travel forward to the present. The trilogy's first installment, Somewhere in Time, was issued in 1992 and was well received. Its 1994 sequel, Tomorrow and Always, involves eighteenth-century balloonist Andrew McVie, who crash-lands into Shannon Whitney's backyard in 1993. Shannon's confidante, Dakota, a psychic and a nonconformist, plays an important role in researching Andrew's life. The third volume, 1995's Destiny's Child, finds Dakota traveling back to 1779 via balloon and becoming involved with cold-blooded aristocrat Patrick Devane, whose daughter Abby steals Dakota's heart. As Dakota realizes that she wants to escape the period of the American Revolution, her "spunky character," in the words of a Publishers Weekly critic, "carries the reader through a confusing plot line."

Sleeping Alone was inspired by Bretton's winter walks with her husband on the New Jersey shore. Another tear-jerker, Once Around finds pregnant Molly Chamberlain abandoned by her husband, a lout who steals the very furniture from their house. A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that while the novel is "not Bretton's best work," nevertheless, "the sex is steamy, the characters interesting and the plot has promise." Bretton provides another happy ending for star-crossed lovers in At Last, in which a pair of often-separated lovers is given a chance to be together by uncovering the family secret that has kept them apart all these years. Booklist reviewer Patty Engelmann dubbed At Last a "beautifully crafted tale that offers a variation on the plot of Romeo and Juliet that transforms the tragedy into a romance." Kristin Ramsdell, reviewing At Last for Library Journal, called it a "classic reunion tale" and commented: "Strong well-defined protagonists, a child who leads everyone on a merry chase, and a town full of interesting characters drive this fast-paced contemporary."

Before its publication in 2001, Bretton wrote of her novel, A Soft Place to Fall, on the Romance Club Web site: "I'm … biting my nails in nervous anticipation. You would think I'd be used to it after 40-plus books but it never gets easier. I know you'll fall in love [with my characters] … same as I did but I can't stop fussing over them like a mother hen." Reviewing the novel in Publishers Weekly, a critic noted that Bretton's fictional small-town setting "infuses the tale with a gently comic note that perfectly balances the darker drama of the romance," while Patty Engelmann added in her Booklist assessment that in A Soft Place to Fall, Bretton "once again … creates a tender love story about two people who, when they find something special, will go to any length to keep it."

Critics have particularly noted Bretton's ability to create psychologically convincing heroines and her skill at tying together complex plots with multiple characters. For example, a Publishers Weekly critic, reviewing Chances Are, praised the "well-observed interactions between friends and family [that] add depth." Of Bretton's 2005 title, Someone like You, Shelley Mosley wrote in Booklist that the author offers "insightful observations" and "superbly dramatizes a great range of emotions." With such plaudits, Bretton is likely to continue her successful romance novel career for years to come.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2000, Patty Engelmann, review of At Last, p. 223; October 1, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of A Soft Place to Fall, p. 303; May 1, 2003, Shelley Mosley, review of Shore Lights, p. 1583; October 1, 2004, Shelley Mosley, review of Chances Are, p. 315; July, 2005, Shelley Mosley, review of Someone like You, p. 1908.

Library Journal, August, 1994, review of One and Only, p. 65; May 15, 1995, p. 60; November 15, 2000, Kristin Ramsdell, review of At Last, p. 56.

Publishers Weekly, August 1, 1994, review of One and Only, p. 75; August 7, 1995, review of Destiny's Child, p. 456; July 6, 1998, review of Once Around, p. 57; October 8, 2001, review of A Soft Place to Fall, p. 50; April 21, 2003, review of Shore Lights, p. 44; October 13, 2003, review of Girls of Summer, p. 62; August 16, 2004, review of Chances Are, p. 48.

ONLINE

Barbara Bretton Home Page, http://www.barbarabretton.com (September 10, 2002).

Romance Club Web site, http://www.theromanceclub.com/ (September 23, 2001), Barbara Bretton, "A Letter from Barbara."