Duncan, Alice 1945- (Emma Craig, Jon Sharpe, Rachel Wilson)
DUNCAN, Alice 1945- (Emma Craig, Jon Sharpe, Rachel Wilson)
PERSONAL: Born November 29, 1945, in Pasadena, CA; daughter of Elbert H. (an electrician) and Wilma (a secretary; maiden name, Wilson) Duncan; married John Strathmann, 1964 (divorced, 1971); children: Anne, Robin. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Attended Pasadena City College. Politics: Democrat. Religion: United Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Cooking, gardening, dachshunds.
ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 2507, Roswell, NM 88202. Agent—Linda M. Kruger, Fogelman Literary Agency, 1717 Greenville Ave., Suite 712, Dallas, TX 75231. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Author. Performed as a folk dancer; member of Zena, a Balkan women's choir.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America, Authors Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Holt Medallion, Virginia Romance Writers of America, 1995, for One Bright Morning; KISS awards, Romantic Times Book Club, 2001, for Cowboy for Hire, and 2002, for Bicycle Built for Two.
One Bright Morning, HarperMonogram (New York, NY), 1995.
Texas Lonesome, HarperMonogram (New York, NY), 1996.
Wild Dream, Dell (New York, NY), 1997.
Secret Hearts, Dell (New York, NY), 1998.
"DREAM MAKER" SERIES
Cowboy for Hire, Zebra (New York, NY), 2001.
Beauty and the Brain, Zebra (New York, NY), 2001.
Her Leading Man, Zebra (New York, NY), 2001.
The Miner's Daughter, Zebra (New York, NY), 2001.
"CHICAGO WORLD'S FAIR" SERIES
Coming up Roses, Zebra (New York, NY), 2002.
Just North of Bliss, Zebra (New York, NY), 2002.
A Bicycle Built for Two, Zebra (New York, NY), 2002.
Strong Spirits, Zebra Historical Romance (New York, NY), 2003.
Fine Spirits, Zebra Historical Romance (New York, NY), 2003.
AS RACHEL WILSON
Sweet Charity, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Restless Spirits, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Heaven's Promise, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Bittersweet Summer, Jove Books (New York, NY), 1999.
My Wild Irish Rose, Jove Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Heaven Sent, Jove Books (New York, NY), 2001.
AS EMMA CRAIG
Rosamunda's Revenge, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Christmas Pie, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Enchanted Christmas, Love Spell Books (New York, NY), 1998.
A Gentle Magic, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1999.
A Gambler's Magic, Love Spell Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Cooking up Trouble, Love Spell Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Gabriel's Fate, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 2001.
"TRAILSMAN" SERIES; AS JON SHARPE
Pecos Belle Brigade, Signet (New York, NY), 1999.
California Crusader, Signet (New York, NY), 2000.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Magic of Christmas, Love Spell Books (New York, NY), 1998, and Winter Wonderland, Love Spell Books (New York, NY), 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: Alice Duncan writes romance fiction under her own name and using the pen names Rachel Wilson, Emma Craig, and Jon Sharpe. Her stories feature various places and time periods, with many set during the Victorian era.
Duncan's Bittersweet Summer is set in 1895 New York, and involves feuding families, the Rakes and the Crowfoots. The latter built a splendid pre-Revolutionary castle that has fallen into disrepair, a condition current owner Genevieve Crowfoot is unable to remedy due to lack of funds. Tobias Rakes returns from fighting the tribes of North Dakota to an inherited fortune, more than enough money to buy the castle, which he does, and he hires Genevieve to be his housekeeper. This displeases Granny Crowfoot, the resident ghost, who is not only forced to see the family estate fall into the hands of the enemy, but also to watch Genevieve fall under Tobias's spell.
My Wild Irish Rose finds a destitute Rose Larkin and her Aunt Kate traveling from New York to Dublin after the death of Rose's father. Rose would be willing to marry well into a respectable, if boring life, but Kate, who did so but always envied her brother's wild ways, wants Rose to enjoy a bit of adventure before she settles down. Rose attracts the wrong kinds of men, who want to involve her in the wrong kinds of adventures, except for Cullen O'Banyon, who looks out for her safety and becomes smitten with her. Her objection to Cullen is that he works with horses, an occupation she associates with her father's footloose ways. Carol Carter, who reviewed the book for Under the Covers online, wrote that the story "focuses on the belief that the grass is greener on the other side, and the author takes it a step farther to give a glimpse of what it's like when you get there."
Carter also reviewed Cooking up Trouble, which she called "a fun tale that will bring back memories of Rumpelstiltskin." Heather Mahaffey is the daughter of an Irishman who delights in telling tall tales about the accomplishments of his children. When wealthy rancher Philippe St. Pierre, who has just moved to the New Mexico Territory, says he is looking for a cook, the father brags about Heather's abilities in the kitchen. Over a chorus of protests from everyone who knows her, Philippe hires the beautiful, but untalented, Heather. But Heather gets help in the form of D. A. Bologh, a stranger who appears from out of nowhere, and who seems to possess magical powers that result in elaborate and delicious dishes. Romance Reader's Diana Burrell called the story "a classic tale of man selling his soul to the devil."
Duncan wrote a number of books that focus on the film industry. The first, Cowboy for Hire, is set in 1905. Meredith McGuire wrote in a review for Romance Reader that "it's always refreshing to discover an author who believes 'history' did not end in 1899. Too, early motion pictures provide a fascinating array of romantic possibilities." In this novel, Charlie Fox, a cowboy who works on an ostrich ranch, is offered the opportunity to play a villain in a Western film. Charlie is suspicious, but decides it could finance his escape from the big birds and enable him to buy some cattle. In real life, however, Charlie becomes the hero of costar Amy Wilkes who is being seduced by a wealthy actor who dangles a prime role to entice her.
Beauty and the Brain features a beautiful actress who admires intelligence, and an intelligent college graduate who masks his. It is 1907, and director Martin Tafft is shooting a film titled Indian Love Song. Handsome Colin Peters is hired to check the facts portrayed in the film, but, for the most part, his advice is ignored. He is growing more and more fond of the film's star, Brenda Fitzpatrick, who although attracted to him, feels that someone as smart as Colin could never find an actress attractive. Colin finds it hard to believe that the beautiful actress could fall for a brainy type like him.
In Her Leading Man, Tafft is directing a thriller and has cast Christina Mayhew in the starring role. Christina is a suffragette who is performing to finance her dream of becoming a doctor. She falls in love with Tafft, but his ethics get in the way of forming a relationship with his leading lady. The Miner's Daughter continues the theme and finds Tafft shooting a film in an old mine, which he thought to be abandoned but which seems to harbor dangerous elements that threaten the crew and the mine's actual owner.
Duncan wrote a series of books set at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago (Chicago World's Fair). The first of these is Coming up Roses, in which Rose Ellen Gilhooley, who was transformed by Buffalo Bill Cody into a star in his Wild West Show, is pursued by a newspaperman. In A Bicycle Built for Two Alex English, one of the exposition's organizers, attempts to banish fortune teller Kate Finney from the grounds. His cold heart melts, however, when he learns that Kate is telling fortunes to support her family, including her dying mother. Kate lets her guard down, and Alex into her life, when he shows signs of being human.
Just North of Bliss finds nanny Rowena Belle teaching Southern-style manners to two young boys in a New York family. When she accompanies them to the World's Fair, she is spotted by Win, the official fair photographer and an aggressive Yankee who has a difficult time convincing her to pose for him. Booklist's Maria Hatton called the novel a "detailed, lively, and entertaining escapade."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2002, Maria Hatton, review of Just North of Bliss, p. 1512; October 1, 2002, Maria Hatton, review of A Bicycle Built for Two, p. 305.
Library Journal, February 15, 2002, John Charles, review of Coming up Roses, p. 129.
Publishers Weekly, April 1, 2002, review of Just North of Bliss, p. 59.
All about Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (January 2, 2003), Mary Sophia Novak, review of Cooking up Trouble, Ellen D. Micheletti, review of My Wild Irish Rose, Jane Jorgenson, review of Beauty and the Brain, Jennifer Keirans, review of Her Leading Man.
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (January 2, 2003), Cathy Sova, review of Bittersweet Summer, Diana Burrell, review of Cooking up Trouble, Meredith McGuire, review of Cowboy for Hire.
Under the Covers,http://www.silcom.com/~manatee/ (January 28, 1997), Carmel Vivier, review of Sweet Charity; (January 11, 1999) Linda Hurst, review of Bittersweet Summer; (January 20, 1999) Lisa Wong, review of Heaven's Promise; (May 24, 2000, Holly E. Price, review of Gabriel's Fate; (February 19, 2001) Carol Carter, review of Cooking up Trouble and My Wild Irish Rose.*