CAREER: Freelance writer.
The Lady Who Hated Shakespeare, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1986.
Winterbourne, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1987.
The Sugar Rose, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1987.
Brighton Road, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1988.
The Bishop's Daughter, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1990.
The Wooing of Miss Masters, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1991.
The Mistress Mischief: The Lady Who Hated Shakespeare, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Christmas Belles, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1993.
Miss Prentiss and the Yankee, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1993.
The Valentine's Day Ball, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1994.
Black Lace and Linen, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Love Power, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Painted Veil, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1995.
Parker and the Gypsy, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1997.
The Courtesan, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Dark Queen, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005.
"ST. LEGER" SERIES
The Bride Finder, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1998.
The Night Drifter, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Midnight Bride, Ballantine Books, 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Susan Carroll is the author of books in the romance genre, and many of her novels are set in Regency England, a favorite period within that genre. With her "St. Leger" series, however, Carroll blends romance with the supernatural or paranormal, breaking the boundaries of genre and causing her work to enter the mainstream bestseller lists.
Carroll began her writing career in 1986 with The Lady Who Hated Shakespeare. Her second novel, Winterbourne, was reprinted in 1998 and includes many of the traits that have become hallmarks of Carroll's style. Set in the middle ages, the tale deals with a protagonist who has "faith in the enduring power of love," as Kathe Robin noted in a Romantic Times review. Lady Melyssan takes on the persona of the wife of Sir Jauffre de Macy in order to thwart the unwanted advances of King John. This particular knight is not known for his good deeds, but to the young and naïve Melyssan he is truly a white knight, and her trust ultimately makes de Macy live up to her expectations, risking all to save his lady from the king's clutches. Robin called Winterbourne a "marvelous story that reads like a fine fairtytale."
Carroll moves forward in time to the Regency period with The Painted Veil. Once again the author features a heroine whose faith in a debauched male forces him into nobler acts and a better life. London is in a panic following a series of murders committed by the mysterious criminal known as "the Hook." Into this atmosphere comes Lady Anne Fairhaven, who is searching for her daughter, who was stolen away from her by her deceased husband's brother. Roaming the streets in her fruitless search, she is discovered by the marquis of Mandrell, who offers to help her if she will spend the night with him. The pair is soon caught up in the misdeeds of the murderer Hook when Anne is accused of a crime of which she is innocent. Mandrell is then motivated into action in this "well-crafted historical," as Kristin Ramsdell described it in Library Journal. Ramsdell also praised the "vivid description, sexual tension, and believable characters," while Robin, writing for the Romantic Times, found the same book an "engrossing read . . . that superbly combines mystery with passion."
Carroll moves from mass market romance to hardcover with her "St. Leger" series, beginning with 1998's The Bride Finder. Set in Cornwall in the nineteenth century, this opening tale in the series relates the story of Anatole St. Leger, owner of a castle set in the craggy cliffs of the peninsula; he is ready to have his cousin Septimus, the family bride finder, bring him a woman. That Anatole knows little of women and must also conceal his paranormal powers—he is able to tell the future and has psychokinetic abilities—would make any such partnering difficult enough. But when Septimus brings back the slender, brunette, genteel Madeline Breton from London instead of a rousing blonde, the problems are compounded. Slowly the two must come to terms with each other. Robin, writing again in Romantic Times, thought that The Bride Finder is a "beautiful, tender, funny, unique story that captures the essence of romance." The same reviewer also noted that Carroll "takes historical romance to new heights by combining a love story with mysticism."
Similar praise came from a Publishers Weekly contributor who dubbed the novel a "highly competent hardcover debut." The critic further noted that Carroll "conjured up the right amount of sexual tension and mystery for a solid, if unsurprising chivalric romance." A critic for Kirkus Reviews also had measured praise for the title, calling it a "yeomanlike romance," and "unsurprising but satisfying." More complimentary was the assessment by Library Journal critic Ramsdell, who considered The Bride Finder to be a "first rate story of courage, acceptance, and the healing power of love." Booklist writer Melanie Duncan concluded that there is "enough atmosphere on these magical pages to satisfy the most ardent historical romance readers."
The "St. Leger" series continues with The Night Drifter and Midnight Bride. In the former title, another St. Leger, Lance, uses his paranormal powers of "night drifting" to go on a search for a missing family sword. This leads him to Lady Rosalind Carylon, who mistakes him for the ghost of Sir Lancelot in search of the sword Excalibur. Thus, Rosalind becomes the next intended bride for the family and works through the usual difficulties on the path to true love, as well as new paranormal ones. A reviewer for Library Journal described this second novel in the series as a "mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful love story that will linger in readers' minds."
Midnight Bride features Dr. Valentine St. Leger, the son of Anatole from The Bride Finder and twin brother of Lance from The Night Drifter. Val's supernatural power is the ability to take away another's pain, and this becomes his main occupation as he determines to make a life on his own. However, Kate, the adopted orphan of Effie Fitzleger, a bride finder, has different plans for Val. These plans are put on hold, however, while Val deals with an old enemy, Rafe Mortmain. This third title in the series won critical praise. Booklist contributor Diana Tixier Herald felt that Carroll "sets the standard for paranormal romance with her beautifully crafted tales." Herald went on to describe Midnight Bride as an "alluring love story with lush historical details." Ramsdell, writing in Library Journal, called the same novel a "darkly romantic, beautifully rendered tale of redemption, forgiveness, and love," while a contributor to Publishers Weekly concluded that "Carroll's swift-moving tale won't disappoint her fans."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 15, 1998, Melanie Duncan, review of The Bride Finder, p. 1426; February 15, 2001, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Midnight Bride, p. 1084; September 15, 2001, review of The Bride Finder, p. 212.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1998, review of The BrideFinder, p. 282.
Library Journal, August, 1995, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Painted Veil, p. 60; February 15, 1998, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Bride Finder, p. 128; May 15, 1999, review of The Night Drifter, p. 84; May 15, 2001, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Midnight Bride, p. 104; January, 2002, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Midnight Bride, p. 51.
Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1998, review of The BrideFinder, p. 57; April 16, 2001, review of Midnight Bride, p. 45.
All about Romance Web site,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (December 10, 2004), Monica Schwarz, review of The Night Drifter.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (December 10, 2004), Kim Mills, review of The Night Drifter, Jóhanna, review of Miss Prentiss and the Yankee.
RomanticTimes.com,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (October, 1995), Kathe Robin, review of The Painted Veil; (April, 1997) Melinda Helfer, review of Parker and the Gypsy; (November, 1998) Kathe Robin, review of Winterbourne; (March, 1999) Kathe Robin, review of The Bride Finder; (May, 2001) Kathe Robin, review of The Midnight Bride.*