Daughter of a ship captain; married second husband, Edward (a businessman); divorced; children: (first marriage) Samantha; (second marriage) Blake. Education: North Texas State University, B.A., 1970.
Author. Houston Home & Garden (magazine), Houston, TX, managing editor for five years; University of Houston, Houston, TX, senior managing editor of Collegium magazine and director of editorial services for five years; has also worked as a continuing education instructor at Rice University.
Through a Glass Darkly was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
HISTORICAL ROMANCE NOVELS
Through a Glass Darkly, Random House (New York, NY), 1986.
Now Face to Face, Random House (New York, NY), 1995.
Dark Angels, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2006.
Through a Glass Darkly and Dark Angels were adapted as sound recordings, 2006.
Karleen Koen has penned three very popular historical romances that have gained her a wide following of fans. She burst onto the scene in 1986 with Through a Glass Darkly, which made news when the author received a three hundred and fifty thousand dollar advance from her publisher, Random House. She then received over seven hundred thousand dollars from Avon Books for paperback rights. Set in England and France in 1715, the story features fifteen-year-old Barbara Alderly, whose conniving mother arranges for her daughter to be married to the Earl Devane. Barbara has actually admired the earl since she was a little girl, but when she discovers his dark secret, she tries to escape. People critic Kim Hubbard called the book an "absorbing read." Harriet Shapiro and Kent Demaret asserted in another People article that "Koen paints a lavish, carefully researched portrait of a young woman's turbulent coming of age in 18th-century England and France."
Almost ten years after her first book was released, Koen completed Now Face to Face, a sequel that takes the recently widowed Barbara to America. Barbara tries to make her own way in the colony of Virginia in a story that a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised for its realistic depiction of a flawed main character. "Koen's smooth prose and nicely integrated background details make this a superior historical romance," the critic concluded.
In what could be an emerging pattern for the author, her third book, Dark Angels, also had audiences waiting a decade before its publication. This time, Koen wrote a prequel to her first two tales, setting her story in England during the reign of Charles II. Alice Verney, who appears as an aged woman in Koen's other books, is a twenty-year-old attendant to Queen Catherine. The novel dwells on Alice's attempts to marry well, while also drawing on historical research to create a background of political intrigue. Dark Angels received some of Koen's best reviews, with critics often lauding the evident effort the author took in adding historical details. "Koen knows her material and painstakingly recreates the Restoration period," remarked a Publishers Weekly writer, who also lauded the "sharply rendered" characters. "Alice is compellingly drawn, and Koen creates a detail-rich setting," reported Brad Hooper in Booklist. Library Journal contributor Cynthia Johnson concluded: "The modern language and sensibility of this tale of politics and intrigue are sure to make it popular everywhere."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August 1, 2006, Brad Hooper, review of Dark Angels, p. 42.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2006, review of Dark Angels, p. 692.
Library Journal, August 1, 2006, Cynthia Johnson, review of Dark Angels, p. 70.
New York Times, September 7, 1986, Erica Jong, "Betrayed by a Gorgeous Cad," review of Through a Glass Darkly, Section 7, p. 13.
People, September 22, 1986, Kim Hubbard, review of Through a Glass Darkly, p. 21; February 23, 1987, Harriet Shapiro and Kent Demaret, "Through a Glass Darkly Emerges the Portrait of Karleen Koen, a Successful First-Time Novelist," p. 97.
Publishers Weekly, November 6, 1995, review of Now Face to Face, p. 82; May 29, 2006, review of Dark Angels, p. 33.
Texas Angels, September, 2006, Mike Shea, review of Dark Angels, p. 60.
Time, November 3, 1986, review of Through a Glass Darkly, p. 84.
Green Man Review,http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (March 4, 2007), Donna Bird, review of Dark Angels.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (March 4, 2007), brief biography of Karleen Koen.
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (November 26, 2006), Cathy Sova, "Meet Author Karleen Koen," interview with the author; (March 4, 2007), Cathy Sova, review of Dark Angels.