Hoyt, Elizabeth 1970–

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Hoyt, Elizabeth 1970–

(Julia Harper)

PERSONAL:

Born November 21, 1970; married; children: two. Education: Attended the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, writing, coffee, and reading.

ADDRESSES:

Home—IL. Office—P.O. Box 17134, Urbana, IL 61803. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Author.

WRITINGS:

"PRINCE" TRILOGY; ROMANCE NOVELS

The Raven Prince, Warner Forever (New York, NY), 2006.

The Leopard Prince, Warner Forever (New York, NY), 2007.

The Serpent Prince, Warner Forever (New York, NY), 2007.

OTHER ROMANCE NOVELS

To Taste Temptation: The Legend of the Four Soldiers, Warner Forever (New York, NY), 2008.

(Under pseudonym Julia Harper) Hot, Warner Forever (New York, NY), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Describing herself on her Web site as a "Midwestern girl, born and bred," romance novelist Elizabeth Hoyt grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and studied anthropology at the University of Wisconsin. After getting married and giving birth to two children, she decided to try her hand at fiction writing. Hoyt was pleasantly surprised when the first book she wrote was accepted by the Warner Forever publishing house. Titled The Raven Prince, the work became the first novel in a loosely connected historical romance trilogy. Hoyt would follow the trilogy with To Taste Temptation: The Legend of the Four Soldiers, which is set in colonial America, and the contemporary romance Hot, written under the pen name Julia Harper.

The "Prince" trilogy also includes The Leopard Prince and The Serpent Prince. The main characters in each book are different, although characters from earlier books make cameo appearances in the later ones. The device that they have in common, however, is the interweaving of a fairy tale in each novel that has parallels to the main story. In The Raven Prince, the author alternates between telling a fairy tale about a magical raven with a story about a woman named Anna Wren, who takes a job as a secretary for Edward de Raaf after her husband dies. As Anna comes to know Edward better, she is attracted to him, except for his habit of visiting a London brothel. She devises a scheme to visit the brothel in disguise and make love to Edward. What happens when he discovers her deception brings the story to a climax in "a spectacular tale that you won't want to end," according to Kim Atchue-Cusella in BookLoons. Judi McKee, reviewing the novel for the Romance Reader, was impressed by Hoyt's debut. The critic asserted: "Although this book employs many common romance devices, the author combines the elements skillfully. The result is that the story has a sense of comfortable familiarity without ever feeling shopworn or clichéd, and the story clips along at a nice pace that pulled me through the pages." McKee further commented that "background information is nicely woven into the story." "I vote it one of the ten best historical romances, if not [all] romances, of 2006," raved Mary Benn in the Romance Reader.

Some critics of The Leopard Prince felt that the work did not quite meet the promise of Hoyt's debut. Benn was annoyed by anachronisms in this novel, including how the heroine, George (short for Georgina) speaks in a far-too-modern colloquial English, according to this critic. Nevertheless, wrote Benn, "Hoyt provides the right amount of details to her country setting to give it an authentic feel. So while The Leopard Prince did not entrance me as much as its precursor, it certainly is an original and well-crafted story." The fairy tale in this novel is told by George between descriptions of what is going on in her real life in 1760 Yorkshire. She has inherited a large estate from her aunt and hires the low-born Harry to serve as steward. On the estate lands the sheep are being mysteriously murdered, and Silas, the local magistrate who is also an enemy of Harry's family, accuses the young man. Harry and George set off to find the real criminal and find romance along the way. Tammie Ard, writing in Fresh Fiction, considered the story "sexy and exciting. You can't help but hope that Georgina and Harry will find love because they are so good for each other."

The Serpent Prince rounds off Hoyt's trilogy. Lucinda Craddock-Hayes discovers a nude, unconscious man on her family's property. Taking him to her father's house, she finds help to nurse him back to health, learning that he is Simon, Viscount Iddesleigh. During his recuperation, he regales her with the story of the Serpent Prince. Simon is on a mission of vengeance. He had been assaulted by those responsible for his brother's death, but as he stays in Lucinda's house he struggles between his growing desire for her and his need to make the murderers pay. "Incredibly vivid lead characters, earthy writing and an intense love story buoy the third entry" of the trilogy, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. "What distinguishes The Serpent Prince from many other romances with similar plots," according to Lesley Dunlap in the Romance Reader, "is the vivid portrayal of Simon and his internal dilemma." Dunlap admitted there are many similarities in this romance novel to the books of Barbara Cartland, and the beginning of the tale moves slowly, but added: "Once the hero and heroine get married (is there any doubt they'll get married?) things get better … a lot better, and this Barbara Cartland knock-off turns into a gripping, very satisfying story."

After Hoyt completed her trilogy, she wrote a romance set in colonial America. To Taste Temptation is another tale of revenge and romance. Hero Samuel Hartley cannot forget the battle at Spinner's Falls, where Native Americans slaughtered the 28th Regiment, which was betrayed by a traitor. Samuel, a former woodsman turned Boston businessman, follows the trail of one of the dead soldiers, Captain Reynaud, to the man's sister, Lady Emeline Gordon. Emeline is a widow who occupies her time by serving as a chaperone to young society women. Samuel gets into her good graces by using his own sister, Rebecca, as an excuse, and asks Emeline if she will teach her the ropes of navigating London society. As the two become attracted to each other, Samuel's quest threatens to tear them apart. A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked that the author "is firmly in control of her craft with engaging characters, gripping plot and clever dialogue."

Taking another turn in her writing career, Hoyt put aside historical romances for a contemporary story, Hot, which she penned under the pseudonym Julia Harper. The heroine is a librarian and part-time bank teller named Turner Hastings. One day while working at her bank, two robbers stage a holdup. Turner, who had previously never done anything so daring, decides to take advantage of this distraction by taking a bank security box that she believes will exonerate her dead uncle. He had been imprisoned for embezzling from the bank, when Turner long suspected the crook was actually the bank's president. Making off with the box, Turner becomes a suspect in the bank robbery and is pursued by Special Agent John MacKinnon. The chase is on, and Turner goes one step further by breaking into the president's house and taking his Great Dane. As MacKinnon pursues Turner and learns more about her, he becomes increasingly intrigued. It eventually becomes clear to him that the real danger is the bank president and not Turner, whose life is in real danger.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 1, 2006, John Charles, review of The Raven Prince, p. 35; August 1, 2007, John Charles, review of The Serpent Prince, p. 51.

Books, February 4, 2007, John Charles, review of The Raven Prince, p. 9.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of The Serpent Prince, p. 37; March 3, 2008, review of To Taste Temptation: The Legend of the Four Soldiers, p. 33.

ONLINE

BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (April 15, 2008), Kim Atchue-Cusella, reviews of The Raven Prince and The Leopard Prince.

Elizabeth Hoyt Home Page,http://www.elizabethhoyt.com (April 15, 2008).

Elizabeth Hoyt MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/elizabethhoyt (April 15, 2008).

Fresh Fiction,http://freshfiction.com/ (October 19, 2006), Jessica Smith, review of The Raven Prince; (March 15, 2007), Tammie Ard, review of The Leopard Prince; (August 15, 2007), Tammie Ard, review of The Serpent Prince.

Julia Harper Home Page,http://www.juliaharper.com (April 15, 2008).

MyShelf,http://www.myshelf.com/ (April 15, 2008), Leslie Halpern, review of The Raven Prince.

Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (April 15, 2008), Judi McKee, review of The Raven Prince; Mary Benn, review of The Leopard Prince; Lesley Dunlap, review of The Serpent Prince.

Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (April 15, 2008), Kathe Robin, reviews of The Leopard Prince and The Raven Prince.