Laurens, Stephanie

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Laurens, Stephanie


Born in Sri Lanka; immigrated to Australia; married; children: two daughters. Education: Holds Ph.D. degree. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, needlework, pets.


Home—Melbourne, Australia.


Writer and novelist. Cancer researcher, 1970-89.



Devil's Bride, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.

A Rake's Vow, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.

Scandal's Bride, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.

A Rogue's Proposal, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.

A Secret Love, Avon (New York, NY), 2000.

All about Love, Avon (New York, NY), 2001.

All about Passion, Avon (New York, NY), 2001.

The Promise in a Kiss: A Christmas Novel, Avon (New York, NY), 2001.

On a Wild Night, Avon (New York, NY), 2002.

On a Wicked Dawn, Avon (New York, NY), 2002.

The Perfect Lover, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.

The Ideal Bride, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.

The Truth about Love, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.

What Price Love?, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.

The Taste of Innocence, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.


The Lady Chosen, Avon (New York, NY), 2003.

A Gentleman's Honor, Avon (New York, NY), 2003.

A Lady of His Own, Avon (New York, NY), 2004.

A Fine Passion, Avon (New York, NY), 2005.

To Distraction, Avon (New York, NY), 2006.


The Reasons for Marriage, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1995, Mira Books (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

A Lady of Expectations, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1995.

An Unwilling Conquest, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1996.


Tangled Reins, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1992.

Four in Hand, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1993.

Impetuous Innocent, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1994.

Fair Juno, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1994.

Captain Jack's Woman, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.

A Comfortable Wife, Harlequin Mills & Boon (London, England), 1997.

(Author of foreword) Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Christina Dodd, Celeste Bradley, and Leslie LaFoy) My Scandalous Bride, St. Martin's Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Christina Dodd and Elizabeth Boyle) Hero, Come Back, Avon (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to anthologies, including Rough around the Edges, Scottish Brides and Secrets of a Perfect Night.


Stephanie Laurens is the author of numerous romance novels. In 1989, having spent nineteen years in lab research, Laurens decided to plunge into the romance-novel genre and wrote her first book. Pleased with the result, she submitted it as an unsolicited manuscript. A London publisher picked it up and over the next five years published eight of Laurens's Regency romances. Laurens, who was raised and educated in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives today, spent four years in England in the late 1970s and early 1980s, living in a sixteenth-century house just down the road from a fourteenth-century castle. There she honed her knowledge of and love for British culture and history.

Once Laurens took the leap into romance writing, she never looked back to her years as a biochemist. When Writers Write interviewer Claire E. White asked Laurens if she ever missed her scientific work, she answered: "No. I think that's because I'm an inherently creative sort, and the element that initially attracted me to scientific research was the cutting-edge, creative side of it. But the more senior you become, the less time you can spend at the creative interface personally, and that was where I started losing interest."

The element most consistently praised in Laurens's novels is her command of the steamy sex scene. In a review of Scandal's Bride for Romance Reader, Jean Mason enumerated sex scenes "in bed, in a chair, in a tub, on a chaise, in a carriage, in the stable, on horseback, in every imaginable position, and a couple that I can't quite visualize." The sexual explicitness of the romance genre has come a long way from the unrequited panting in Barbara Cartland's novels, which provoked sexual tension but did not include graphic description.

Laurens's first book published in the United States, Captain Jack's Woman, brought her instant recognition as a writer to watch, earning a six-star rating from Affaire de Coeur, "only the second book ever to have achieved this rating," according to White. The hero, Captain Jack, is a nobleman passing as a smuggler king in order to control smuggling along the coast of England. The heroine, Kathryn "Kit" Cranmer, is a noble-woman who has returned to her home after many years in London to visit her grandfather. One late night when she is out riding, Kit comes upon a smuggler's band and helps them avoid capture. In their gratitude, and assuming Kit is a man because she is wearing riding breeches, the smugglers beg her to be their leader, and she accepts. While Kit and Captain Jack—who sees through Kit's male disguise instantly—are immediately attracted to each other, Jack does not want to sacrifice his mission to protect the English coast in a romance with a "smuggler." Kit also hesitates; unaware of Jack's true identity or his patriotic mission, she fears he may be smuggling French spies into England. At the same time each holds the other at arm's length, both are disappointed in the lack of romantic attention the other pays to them. But their ineluctable chemistry finally wins out, resulting in "some of the hottest sex scenes" reviewer Judith Flavell of Romance Reader had read all year. "Once they get started," Flavell noted, "Captain Jack and his woman are the Energizer Bunnies of love: they just keep going and going and going."

In her Writers Write interview, Laurens described how she comes up with her characters: "They literally simply appear in my head, sometimes virtually complete, other times less so, but always with the hero and heroine visually detailed and with their characters reasonably clear, and the focal point of the story, the central premise or conflict or whatever, also set." In describing how she achieves the sexual chemistry of her lovers, she wrote: "If you use over-the-top, know-they-are-irresistible, dominant but intelligent males as heroes, as I invariably do, then you … are really looking for a heroine who is going to affect our strong willed hero like an earthquake—and shake that damned man to his knees."

In Devil's Bride Laurens lays the groundwork for a series on a group of six well-born cousins with devilish reputations and nicknames who are called the Bar Cynster. In this novel, which features Sylvester "Devil" Cynster, sixth Duke of St. Ives, the Bar Cynster work together to avenge the murder of another cousin, Tolly. As the story begins, Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby is out driving a single-horse gig when she spies a badly wounded man in the woods. When she stops to help, her horse, frightened by thunder, runs off and leaves her stranded. Not long after, a handsome stranger rides up and identifies the wounded man as his cousin. They move the man to a nearby cottage for shelter, but he dies in the night. According to the honor code of this time, the fact that an unmarried man and woman have spent an un-chaperoned night together means that they must marry or the woman's honor is besmirched. Honoria, whose ambition is to explore Africa, has no interest in marriage or children. Although Devil, the handsome stranger with whom she spent the night, believes they must marry and wants to marry Honoria, she resists. She is more interested in discovering the identity of Tolly's killer. Devil is conducting his own investigation, along with his cousins. Their parallel trails to the killer threaten to endanger both of them. Lesley Dunlap, who reviewed Devil's Bride for Romance Reader, called it "a contender for romance novel of the year…. Together [Honoria and Devil] have some of the most heart-pounding love scenes ever written, pages and pages of sensuous encounters."

In A Rake's Vow Laurens turns to Vane Cynster as hero. Vane is visiting his godmother Minnie's home, where an oddball cast of distantly related hangers-on has been recently joined by Patience Debbington and her brother Gerrard, Minnie's niece and nephew. The household is up in arms when Vane arrives because of fears the house is being haunted by a ghost, or that young Gerrard is playing dangerous and disturbing pranks. Patience, who has raised Gerrard from an early age, resents these accusations, and appreciates it when Vane also supports Gerrard. But she also fears that Gerrard will be over-influenced by the glamorous Vane, whom she regards as the kind of "elegant gentleman" she does not want Gerrard to become. Meanwhile, the mystery of just who is haunting Minnie's house remains unsolved, and Patience and Vane are often at odds about how to solve it. Dunlap, reviewing A Rake's Vow for Romance Reader, concluded that "Laurens … is one of the best writers in the romance genre today—her heroes are the stuff of dreams, and she's developed sexual tension to a fine art."

Laurens expands the "Bar Cynster" series in Scandal's Bride, which pits Richard Cynster against Catriona Hennessey in a novel that plays on goddess worship and the laws of inheritance. Catriona is head priestess of a cult who worships the Lady of the Vale, a mystical presence who gives Catriona healing gifts. Catriona's role in the cult gives her great power, and she is frustrated when her uncle's will declares that she must marry the dominating Richard Cynster or leave her cousins with nothing. The choice is complicated by the fact that the Lady has appeared to Catriona in a dream and shown her the face of the "man [who] will father your children": the face of Richard Cynster. Catriona decides that bearing Cynster's children need not involve marrying him; she drugs him with a sleeping draught and an aphrodisiac to make the Lady's prophecy come true. But Cynster evades the drugs the second and third time Catriona tries them, following his own motivations and desires. He is happy to accept the terms of the will, and finally forces Catriona to do so, promising that he will accept her role as high priestess. Their union remains fraught with tension, however, as their two strong personalities collide. In her review for Romance Reader, Jean Mason had some criticisms of the plot, noting that, "having settled their problems with one-third of the book to go, Laurens depends on melodramatic dangers to Richard, which I, at least, found less compelling." But she recommended Laurens as "an excellent writer who tells a good story."

Cynster cousin number four—Harry, known as "Demon"—takes the role of hero in A Rogue's Proposal. Demon, a horse breeder and racer, helps Felicity—called Flick—find out who has gotten her brother involved in a race-fixing scheme. Flick is the daughter of Demon's mentor, General Sir Gordon Caxton, to whom Demon owes a vast debt of gratitude. Demon has known Flick since she was a child, and, as Mason wrote in Romance Reader, he "is immediately attracted to this young woman who looks like a Botticelli Venus and rides like Willie Shoemaker." But, having watched his brother and two cousins fall into the "marriage trap," Demon is leery of taking that step. Even when he does work his way around to proposing, his cynical ideas about true love put off Flick, who wants an equal in her feelings as well as her desires. Mason gave the novel four stars. She wrote that "Laurens does a number of things very well in A Rogue's Proposal. Her description of the Regency racing world and the problems that beset it made for interesting reading and enlivened the secondary plot as Demon and Flick try to discover who is rigging the races…. Laurens gives us what we want very nicely indeed."

Laurens continues the "Bar Cynster" series with 2000's A Secret Love, featuring Gabriel Cynster, one of the last single Cynster men. Gabriel meets a mysterious countess who enlists him to help save her family fortune from the finaglings of a bad business associate of her father's. Lady Alathea Morwellan is the real identity of the mystery countess, but she keeps her identity secret from Gabriel out of fear of rejection. She turns to him because his wealth and connections make him the only man who can help save her family, but her feelings for him, combined of deep attraction and deep annoyance at the Cynster clan's avowed hatred of marriage, make her disguise necessary. Gabriel's attraction to the shrouded lady make saying no impossible for him. Tina Engler in Romance Reader wrote, "[he] will do as the countess asks and find the pieces of information she needs to clear her family of its debts, but each time Gabriel unravels a new piece of information, he will also exact a payment from her … in the form of innocent kisses at first, but more intimate acts as their relationship progresses." Engler concluded: "Gabriel and Alathea are a very entertaining and endearing couple, and their long history together adds a poignantly emotional element to the mix."

All about Love takes on the last unmarried Bar Cynster cousin, Alisdair Reginald Cynster, better known as Lucifer. The story begins with the wedding of Gabriel and Alathea (from A Secret Love) which Lucifer soon flees to visit his mentor, Horatio Melham. He arrives at his mentor's home in lonely Devon to find Melham sitting at his desk, stabbed to death. Unbeknownst to Lucifer, Phyllida Tallent, daughter of the local magistrate, is hiding behind the door when he walks into the study. She has come to the manor to retrieve some compromising letters written by her friend Mary Anne. Phyllida, happy with her role as the village's problem-solver, never wanted a romance that might distract her from that role, and Lucifer wants to retain his status as the last of the Bar Cynsters who has stayed true to their vow against marriage, but the two find themselves drawn ever closer. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote: "Phyllida and Lucifer are rich, engaging characters, and Laurens's writing shines."

In All about Passion, "appealing characters and red-hot chemistry breathe new life into a familiar story line in the latest entry" in the Cynster series, commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. When Cyles Rawlings, the Earl of Chillingworth and an honorary Cynster, determines that it is time to marry and produce heirs to carry on his bloodline, he decides that the most efficient way to find a wife is through an arranged marriage. The perfect choice appears to be Francesca Rawlings, a distant relative and the heiress of a considerable estate. Cyles is dismayed when he discovers that Francesca is not the quiet, serene woman he once saw in the garden, but is instead the spirited and flamboyant woman he has often met riding across the countryside. He goes through with the marriage, however, eager to add Francesca's estate to his own. For her part, Francesca is determined to win the love of the man who married her, even if both are initially resistant to the idea.

The Perfect Lover marks Laurens's hardcover fiction debut, and is another installment of the ongoing Cynster series. Dashing Simon Frederick Cynster is the last unmarried Cynster of his generation, and as time progresses, he decides it is time to settle down and get married. However, his prowess lies in seduction and not courtship, which puts him at a considerable disadvantage in his search for a spouse. As Simon considers his options, Portia Ashford makes her own decision to have children, and to that end begins a search for a husband. Portia, however, knows little about men, and sets out to learn all she can before settling on one to be her husband and the father of her children. When the two encounter each other at a party, Portia asks Simon to teach her ways to search for love, while Simon, intrigued to find the previously disliked Portia potential mate material, readily agrees to teach her all he knows about love and desire. Their progress is impeded, however, by the murder of their married hostess Kitty Glossup, who seems to have no restraint in her pursuit of other men. Portia discovers Kitty's body, and soon realizes that she is also in danger. A scheme to uncover the killer puts Portia in ever greater peril, even as she and Simon veer ever closer to a committed relationship. "As with Laurens's earlier titles, the generous doses of erotica will appeal to devotees of romantic suspense," noted a Publishers Weekly critic. "Elegant writing flavored with wit, memorable characters, some superbly sensual and exquisitely detailed love scenes, and a plot laced with danger" combine in this "wickedly fun" novel, remarked John Charles in Booklist.

With The Truth about Love, "Laurens's beloved Cynster series takes a gothic turn, wrapping suspense and eroticism into a potent package," commented a Publishers Weekly critic. Renowned landscape painter Gerrard Debbington is a protege of Lord Vane Cynster, and is considered the most eligible bachelor in the area. His major goal as an artist is to paint the gardens at Hellebore Hall, the home of Lord Tregonning. Gerrard finally gets his chance: Tregonning agrees to let him paint the gardens as long as he will also agree to paint a portrait of Jacqueline, Tregonning's daughter. He nearly refuses, dreading the tedium of painting a boring society girl, but when he meets Jacqueline, he finds her to be a passionate source of inspiration for his art and his desire. Yet Jacqueline's past holds some terrible secrets, as she is suspected of being responsible for the deaths of both her mother and a former fiance. Lord Tregonning believes that a skillfully executed portrait will reveal the true nature of the subject, and he expects Gerrard's painting will show Jacqueline to be innocent. If Jacqueline is not the murderer, then the true identity of the killer must be found. The "story consistently surprises," stated the Publishers Weekly reviewer.

Laurens is also the author of another series of historical romances, The Bastion Club. The series focuses on the seven noble members of the club, former Napoleonic War-era spies who stand as a "last bastion against the matchmakers of the ton," and who sometimes serve as spies and agents for the British Crown. In A Gentleman's Honor, Alicia Pevensey is determined to ensure her younger sister Adriana has a proper society debut, though her resources are limited. Alicia decides to masquerade as a married woman in order to provide Adriana with a "proper" chaperone for the event. Later, however, she is discovered by Anthony Blake, Viscount Torrington, standing over a dead man with a bloody knife in her hands. The deceased, it seems, was a potential suitor who had threatened to reveal her improper impersonation unless she married him. Alicia proclaims her innocence, and evidence suggests that someone is trying to frame her for the murder. Drawn to Alicia by an unexplainable desire to protect her, Blake has to juggle his need to solve the murder with his growing emotional attachment to the hapless Alicia. "As in all of Laurens's romances, the love scenes are passionate, and chemistry hums between the pair," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Kristin Ramsdell, writing in the Library Journal, called the book "well plotted, wickedly sensual, and suspenseful."

Lord Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lostwithiel, is the protagonist of A Lady of His Own. When Charles encounters Lady Penelope Selborne, an old friend and old love interest, he finds that she is deeply involved in a long-term episode of political intrigue. Her late brother may have been a spy for France, smuggling secrets from Britain during the war. However, the smuggling has continued even after the man's death, and Lady Penelope is determined to discover the truth of the matter. As the two investigate, their former interest in each other is sparked anew. "The novel features all the steamy sensuality for which Laurens is known," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

To Distraction concerns another Bastion Club member's desire for an heir and the search for a wife. Jocelyn Deverell, Viscount Paignton, knows he must keep his bloodline going, and his search for a suitable spouse brings him into contact with Phoebe Malleson, his aunt's spirited goddaughter. Despite the temptations that life with Deverell might offer, Phoebe is uninterested in marriage. Her passion involves a crusade to protect and rescue abused domestic servants from wealthy households throughout the country. Deverell, for his part, remains determined to win her affections. When Phoebe's crusade places her in danger, she turns to Deverell for help. "Aptly titled, Laurens's latest generates enough heat to make you forget about sticky summertime weather," remarked a contributor to Publishers Weekly.



Booklist, January 1, 2003, John Charles, review of The Perfect Lover, p. 808; March 15, 2006, John Charles, review of What Price Love, p. 34; December 1, 2006, John Charles, review of The Taste of Innocence, p. 30.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of The Promise in a Kiss: A Christmas Novel, p. 1386.

Library Journal, February 15, 1999, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Scandal's Bride, p. 138; August, 2003, Kristin Ramsdell, review of A Gentleman's Honor, p. 66; March 1, 2004, Bette-Lee Fox, review of The Ideal Bride, p. 108; April 15, 2006, Kristin Ramsdell, review of What Price Love?, p. 62.

Publishers Weekly, September 13, 1999, review of A Rogue's Proposal, p. 79; January 22, 2001, review of All about Love, p. 308; August 6, 2001, review of All about Passion, p. 66; January 27, 2003, review of The Perfect Lover, p. 238; June 30, 2003, review of The Lady Chosen, p. 62; August 18, 2003, review of A Gentleman's Honor, p. 63; March 1, 2004, review of The Ideal Bride, p. 52; May 3, 2004, review of My Scandalous Bride, p. 177; August 30, 2004, review of A Lady of His Own, p. 38; February 28, 2005, review of The Truth about Love, p. 42; April 25, 2005, review of Hero, Come Back, p. 44; February 6, 2006, review of What Price Love?, p. 45; July 17, 2006, review of To Distraction, p. 142; November 6, 2006, review of The Taste of Innocence, p. 35.


Fantastic Fiction Web site, (March 10, 2007), bibliography of Stephanie Laurens.

Romance Reader, (May 31, 2001), Judith Flavell, review of Captain Jack's Woman; Lesley Dunlap, reviews of Devil's Bride, A Rake's Vow, and the story "Scandalous Lord Dere" in Secrets of a Perfect Night; Jean Mason, reviews of Scandal's Bride and A Rogue's Proposal; Tina Engler, review of A Secret Love; Judi McKee, review of All about Love.

Stephanie Laurens Home Page, (March 10, 2007).

Writers Write, (August 23, 2001), Claire E. White, "Interview with Stephanie Laurens"; (March-April, 2004), Claire E. White, "A Conversation with Stephanie Laurens."

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