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Gaston, Diane 1948- (Diane Perkins, Diane Frances Perkins)

Gaston, Diane 1948- (Diane Perkins, Diane Frances Perkins)

PERSONAL:

Born February 24, 1948; married; children: two. Education: Ohio University, B.A.; holds master's degrees in psychology and social work.

ADDRESSES:

Office—P.O. Box 523131, Springfield, VA 22152 E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Novelist. Worked previously as a psychiatric social worker and county mental health therapist.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Best Regency, National Readers Choice award, 2005, for The Mysterious Miss M; Best Book, Orange Rose, 2005, for The Improper Wife; RITA, Romance Writers of America, Best Regency Romance, 2006, for A Reputable Rake; eHarlequin Readers Choice award, favorite anthology, 2007, for Mistletoe Kisses, favorite historical novel, for A Reputable Rake.

WRITINGS:

The Mysterious Miss M, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(As Diane Perkins) The Improper Wife, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(As Diane Perkins) The Marriage Bargain, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.

A Reputable Rake, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2006.

The Wagering Widow, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2006.

(Coauthor) Mistletoe Kisses (author of novella "A Twelfth Night Tale"), Harlequin (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

Innocence and Impropriety, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2007.

The Vanishing Viscountess, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

A fan of romance novels since her girlhood, Diane Gaston enjoyed a successful career as a psychiatric social worker and county mental health therapist before trying her hand at crafting romance stories of her own. Her persistence paid off when her first novel, The Mysterious Miss M, was accepted for publication. Since then she has written several Regency romances that have won major romance awards.

As Gaston explains on her home page, she moved often as a child because her father was an officer in the U.S. Army. She turned to books to fill some of her lonely hours and was especially drawn to the romantic story lines in novels about dramatic heroines such as Jane Eyre. She went on to major in English in college and then earned graduate degrees in psychology and social work. Yet the world where she felt she "truly belonged," she writes on her Web site, was the genre of Regency romance fiction. When she decided to write novels of her own, it was this world that she chose to depict.

The Mysterious Miss M recounts the experiences of Madeline, the daughter of a prestigious family who is seduced and sold into prostitution at age fifteen. Now a favored courtesan known only as Miss M, she is strongly attracted to Devlin, a young army officer who, at a card game, wins the prize of an encounter with her and who impresses her with his tenderness and sensitivity. A few years later they meet again. Devlin has been wounded at the battle of Waterloo and has sunk into depression, gambling away his fortune. By a stroke of good fortune, however, he wins at cards again, and this time, he wins Miss M to keep. The financial obligation to care for Madeline, her daughter Linette, and her maid strains Devlin's resources, but he cannot obtain his inheritance unless he marries. He has fallen hopelessly in love with Madeline and wants to marry her, but she refuses to allow him to be censured by society for stooping so low as to take a prostitute for his wife. Devlin's struggle to win Madeline's heart and hand, while resisting the pressures to conform to social conventions, impressed many readers. Kathe Robin, reviewing the book in Romantic Times Online, called it a "Regency with the gutsiness of a Dickens novel." In Romance Review, Kris Alice praised Gaston's deft and believable creation of character and superb balancing of emotional relationships with period details. The Mysterious Miss M, Alice concluded, is a "remarkable story" with characters who are sympathetic and "irresistible."

In The Improper Wife, which Gaston published under the name Diane Perkins, mistaken or concealed identities are at the heart of a complex love story. Maggie fears that her husband, Captain John Grayson, has drowned after she pushes him during an argument and he falls into the river. Now late in pregnancy, she is overjoyed to learn that he is still alive and rushes to his home to be reunited with him, only to discover to her shock that the John Grayson living there is not the man she had married. Her husband, she learns, had assumed the name to deceive her. Startled at the arrival of this pregnant stranger, Grayson helps deliver her baby and then sends her to live with his relatives while he rejoins his regiment overseas. On his return he finds that Maggie has ingratiated herself with his estranged father in order to protect herself from John's suspicious cousin. He decides to go along with the ruse that he and Maggie are husband and wife. Though a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the novel's plot improbable and underdeveloped, Booklist contributor John Charles praised its emotional intensity and beautiful writing, concluding that the book is "simply superb."

The Marriage Bargain, another title that Gaston wrote as Diane Perkins, centers on a marriage of convenience. The beautiful Emma is destined to wed a loathsome rich man, but his dashing nephew, Spenser, rescues her by proposing that she become his own wife instead. Their arrangement is a marriage in name only, and Spenser soon goes off to fight Napoleon in Europe. When he returns, he discovers that he is in love with Emma and sets out to woo her anew, offering a genuine relationship this time. John Charles, writing in Booklist, hailed The Marriage Bargain as a "quietly brilliant" Regency romance.

A notorious rogue tries to turn over a new leaf in A Reputable Rake, which John Charles, writing in Booklist, described as "fabulously entertaining." Cyprian Sloane, a gambler, smuggler, and rake, is ready to make his life respectable and sets about courting Hannah Cowdlin. But things get complicated when he learns that Hannah's cousin, Morgana, has been operating a secret school for courtesans to shelter young ladies who have escaped from a cruel house of prostitution. If anyone finds out, the ensuing scandal will ruin both Morgana and Cyprian, so the reputable rake goes along with her daring plan to make things right. Romantic Times reviewer Joan Hammond praised the book's "brilliant writing" and compelling plot.

Praised by Booklist critic John Charles as a "quietly compelling story," The Wagering Widow is the story of two destitute lovers whose elopement, to the chagrin of the new husband, fails to solve their financial problems. Guy Keating thought Emily Duprey was an heiress; when he discovers that she is as penniless as he, he turns to the gaming tables. Feeling betrayed, Emily resolves to leave. Disguised as a mysterious widow, she enters a notorious London gambling house only to discover that the opponent trying to beat her at cards is her husband.

In Innocence and Impropriety, a captivating young singer at the Vauxhall Gardens, Miss Rose O'Keefe, dreams of performing at the King's Theatre. But she needs a champion, who appears to be Jameson Flynn, secretary to the influential Marquess of Tannerton. As she and Jameson fall in love, Rose must resist the unwelcome advances of the twisted Earl of Greythorne, who will stop at nothing to possess her. The Marquess appears again in The Vanishing Viscountess, when he finds himself compelled to help rescue Marlena Parronley, the titular countess, who has been unjustly imprisoned and condemned to death.

Gaston also contributed the holiday-themed novella "A Twelfth Night Tale" to the collection Mistletoe Kisses.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2004, John Charles, review of The Improper Wife, p. 568; October 15, 2005, John Charles, review of The Marriage Bargain, p. 36; February 15, 2006, John Charles, review of The Wagering Widow, p. 52; May 1, 2006, John Charles, review of A Reputable Rake, p. 75.

Books, April 15, 2007, John Charles, review of Innocence and Impropriety, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, October 18, 2004, review of The Improper Wife, p. 53.

ONLINE

Diane Gaston Home Page,http://www.dianegaston.com (February 16, 2008).

Historical Romance Writers,http://www.historicalromancewriters.com/ (February 16, 2008), MaryGrace Meloche, review of A Reputable Rake; review of A Reputable Rake.

MyShelf.com,http://www.myshelf.com/romance/ (February 16, 2008), Faith V. Smith, review of The Marriage Bargain; Linda Morelli, review of A Reputable Rake.

Mystic Castle,http://www.themysticcastle.com/ (February 16, 2008), Diane Gaston profile.

Novel Talk,http://www.noveltalk.com/ (February 16, 2008), Lucele Coutts, review of The Wagering Widow; Lucele Couts, review of The Mysterious Miss M.

Once upon a Romance,http://www.onceuponaromance.net/ (February 16, 2008), Lori Graham, review of A Reputable Rake.

Risky Regencies,http://riskyregencies.blogspot.com/ (February 16, 2008), interview with Diane Gaston.

Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (February 16, 2008), Mary Benn, review of The Wagering Widow.

Romance Reader at Heart,http://dperkins.romancereaderatheart.com/ (February 16, 2008), "Our Spotlight Author for November 2004."

Romance Review,http://wwwaromancereview.com/ (February 16, 2008), Kris Alice, review of The Mysterious Miss M; review of Innocence and Impropriety; Kris Alice, review of The Wagering Widow.

Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (February 16, 2008), Kathe Robin, review of The Improper Wife; Kathe Robin, review of The Marriage Bargain; Joan Hammond, review of Innocence and Impropriety; Kathe Robin, review of The Mysterious Miss M; Kathe Robin, review of The Wagering Widow; Joan Hammond, review of A Reputable Rake.

Virginia Romance Writers Web site,http://www.virginiaromancewriters.com/ (February 16, 2008), Diane Gaston profile.

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