Neggers, Carla A. 1955–
Neggers, Carla A. 1955–
(Anne Harrell, Amalia James, Carla Amalia Neggers)
PERSONAL: Born August 9, 1955, in Belchertown, MA; daughter of Leonardus C. (a machinist) and Florine (a teacher; maiden name, Harrell) Neggers; married Joe B. Jewell (a minister), July 23, 1977; children: Katherine Rye, Zachary Wynne. Education: Boston University, B.S. (magna cum laude), 1977. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, counted cross-stitch, embroidery, exercise, cooking, gardening, traveling, karate, hiking, and kayaking.
CAREER: Writer, novelist, and journalist. American Heart Association, Boston, MA, public relations associate, 1975–77; staff writer, L.W. Robbins Associates, 1977; freelance writer, 1978–. Presents writers' workshops; guest on television and radio programs.
MEMBER: International Women's Writing Guild, Romance Writers of America, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Reviewer's Choice Award nominations, Romantic Times, 1983, for best Bantam Loveswept, 1986 and 1987, both for best Harlequin Temptation, 1988, for best romance series writer; Reviewer's Choice Award, Romantic Times, 1985, for The Uneven Score, 1988, for All in a Name.
(Under pseudonym Amalia James) Midsummer Dreams, Bantam (New York, NY), 1982.
(Under pseudonym Amalia James) Tangled Promises, Bantam (New York, NY), 1982.
(Under pseudonym Amalia James) Dream Images, Bantam (New York, NY), 1983.
Matching Wits, Bantam (New York, NY), 1983.
Outrageous Desire, Dell (New York, NY), 1983.
Heart on a String, Bantam (New York, NY), 1983.
Dancing Seasons, Avon (New York, NY), 1984.
A Touch of Magic, Bantam (New York, NY), 1984.
Delinquent Desire, New American Library (New York, NY), 1984.
The Venus Shoe, Avon (New York, NY), 1984.
The Knotted Skein, Avon (New York, NY), 1984.
Southern Comfort, Dell (New York, NY), 1984.
The Uneven Score, Avon (New York, NY), 1985.
Apple of My Eye, Dell (New York, NY), 1985.
Interior Designs, Dell (New York, NY), 1985.
Captivated, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1986.
Trade Secrets, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1987.
Claim the Crown, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1987.
Family Matters, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1988.
All in a Name, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1988.
A Winning Battle, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1989.
Finders Keepers, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1989.
(Under pseudonym Anne Harrell) Minstrel's Fire, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1989.
(Under pseudonym Anne Harrell) Betrayals, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1990.
Within Reason, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1990.
That Stubborn Yankee, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1991.
Wisconsin Wedding, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1992.
Tempting Fate, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Bewitching, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.
Trying Patience, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.
Night Watch, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1993.
(With Jayne Ann Krentz, Linda Lael Miller, Linda Howard and Kasey Michaels) Everlasting Love, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Anne Stuart and Rebecca Brandewyne) New Year's Resolution: Husband, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1996.
Finding You, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Groom Who (Almost) Got Away, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1996.
A Rare Chance, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Just before Sunrise, Pocket Star (New York, NY), 1997.
Night Scents, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
White Hot, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Kiss the Moon, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
On Fire, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 1999.
The Waterfall, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
The Carriage House, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
The Cabin, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Stonebrook Cottage, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Cold Ridge, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
The Harbor, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
On the Edge (contains Shelter Island, by Neggers, Bougainvilles, by Heather Graham, and Capsized, by Sharon Sala), MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Night's Landing, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
The Rapids, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2004.
Dark Sky, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Breakwater, MIRA (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Carla A. Neggers has enjoyed a successful career as a romance/romantic suspense novelist. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, she is known "for creating likeable, believable characters and [for] her keen recognition of the obstacles that can muddle relationships." Neggers's novels are set in the present day, and her heroines are modern women in the sense that they have strong identities and the ability to carry themselves gracefully through trying emotional situations and even life-threatening events. Although they may ally themselves to men, the alliance becomes more of a partnership than a matter of seeking protection. On the Whitestone Books Web site, Harriet Klausner stated that Neggers, who lives with her husband and children in Vermont, "is renowned for her romance novels that capture the essence of New England living."
Neggers grew up in a large family in rural Massachusetts, the third of seven children. Even as a child she would steal away to write stories, and she completed her first novel at the age of twenty-three. In an interview on the BookTalk Web site, she said that many of her tales begin with a "what if" scenario, sometimes based on her own experiences. The suspense in The Carriage House, for example, grew from her own stay in a carriage house with a trapdoor leading to a dirt basement. After accepting the deed to the house in lieu of payment for a design job, Tess, the heroine, finds a skeleton in just such a basement at the outset of the novel. The bones disappear from the basement before anyone else can see them or verify their presence, which suggests that someone is hiding evidence of a murder. Investigation of the crime stalls, and perhaps eliminates, the possibility of romance with the gruff but handsome widower in the house next door. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that "Neggers delivers a colorful, well-spun story that shines with sincere emotion."
The search for the true identity of the President of the United States fuels the mystery in Night's Landing. Historical archaeologist Sarah Dunnemore has devoted much of her professional life to researching the Poe family and restoring their historic Tennessee home. Prominent in the Poe family history is the adoption of a baby left on the doorstep who grew up to become U.S. President John Wesley Poe. Her work finished, the house will be transformed into a museum. While pondering her next step, she learns that her twin brother, Rob, a U.S. Marshal, has been shot and wounded in New York's Central Park. Another marshal, Nate Winter, was also shot, though less severely wounded. Nate investigates the shooting and finds that Rob may have been the main target. When a threatening letter suggests that Sarah may be the next target, she and Nate take refuge in the Dunnemore family home, Night's Landing. There, Sarah and Nate, while developing a mutual interest in each other, wonder whether the shooting and threats are connected to the family's ties to President Poe. Liz Zink, reviewing the book on the All about Romance Web site, noted that the "suspense plot is intense and involves some wonderful secondary characters." In addition, Zink remarked that "the plot against Sarah's family is intricate, and although I knew who the villain was before the end, I never knew why until the author chose to reveal the secret."
Penelope Chestnut, a pilot and the protagonist of Kiss the Moon, disturbs a dormant bed of secrets when she discovers the wreckage of an airplane during an afternoon walk in the woods. The wreckage appears to date from almost fifty years earlier, when wealthy Colt Sinclair and his impoverished but beautiful girlfriend, Frannie Beaudine, took off from New York City and were never seen again. The discovery causes a sensation in the town. News crews arrive, as does Wyatt Sinclair, the nephew of the missing Colt Sinclair. However, Penelope has second thoughts and retracts her claims of finding the plane. Her retraction is suspicious, and many wonder if she is protecting someone or has another ulterior motive for her actions. When she begins to receive threatening notes, it is apparent that her discovery, whether real or not, has put her life in danger. She wonders where Wyatt Sinclair fits in, even while struggling against a growing attraction to him. "Neggers has fun with various red herrings while keeping the real secret a surprise to the very last," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. Reviewer Ann Marble, writing on the All about Romance Web site, observed that Kiss the Moon "has what many romantic suspense novels are missing—romance and suspense." The novel is "more than just an exciting read, though; the reader really comes to care about the characters," Marble concluded.
In The Waterfall widowed Lucy Blacker Swift is finally getting her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband three years earlier. The owner of an adventure travel company in rural Vermont, she is shaken when a series of inexplicable accidents threaten her stability and her life. Refusing offers of help from her powerful father, Senator Jack Swift, Lucy instead turns to an old friend of her husband's, security expert Sebastian Redwing, for assistance. Brought into close contact with Lucy, he struggles to control the effects of years of unrequited love for her. An attraction between them inevitably develops, but is complicated by Sebastian's assistant, Barbara Allen, who declares her love for him and is rejected. Barbara teams up with an infamous criminal, Darren Mowery, to blackmail Senator Swift and seek revenge against Sebastian and Lucy. A Publishers Weekly critic commented that Neggers's "depiction of the chemistry between the two lovers is more engaging than her development of the novel's mystery elements." However, All about Romance Web site reviewer Candy Tan found the opposite to be true, stating: "While the suspense elements seem to overshadow the romance aspect, the writing is simple, unpretentious and enjoyable, and it has some great dialogue and zingy one-liners." Tan called the novel "a fun book. It's well-written, the characters are believable and fairly well fleshed-out, the plot is interesting."
"Small New England towns full of romance and intrigue are Neggers's specialty," commented a Publishers Weekly writer, and in The Harbor she takes full advantage of the New England setting. After visiting his centenarian aunt Olivia, Goose Harbor, Maine police chief Patrick Vest is murdered. Olivia, frail and on her deathbed, says she knows who killed him, but she dies before she can reveal the killer's identity. Zoe, Patrick's daughter, spirals downward into self-destruction after her father's death, walking away from her own law enforcement career and going into seclusion. When Zoe heads to Goose Harbor to see why her deceased aunt's house was broken into, she meets J.B. McGrath, an FBI agent who claims he is on vacation, but who has an unexplained connection to Olivia. The two join forces to investigate a series of unusual crimes related to her father's death.
Neggers once told CA: "I began writing romances in 1981 after my first novel, a romantic suspense, had been rejected sixteen times. Romantic suspense, it seemed, was out. So over a spicy lunch in Manhattan my agent suggested I try writing a book without a corpse in it. This hadn't really occurred to me. 'Try a straight romance,' she said. To which I said, 'You mean a formulaic story about a pretty, virginal, innocent twenty-year-old who's swept off her feet by a tall, dark, macho, handsome and worldly forty-year-old man? Yuck!' She asked me if I'd ever read a series romance. I admitted I hadn't. So she, being a patient woman, loaded me up with books and told me to call her.
"I read the books and realized the market was much more open to new ideas and new twists than I'd ever imagined. The heroines weren't all virgins! They were over twenty-five! They had careers! The heroes weren't all brooding violent types! Sure, there were books that I despised, but weren't there mysteries I despised? Why should I have to like every romance? So I said to myself: 'If I can write a romance with characters I like and situations I find amusing, I'll do it.' So I wrote, I sold, and I've been having lots of fun being a 'romance writer.'
"Meanwhile, of course, I'm still partial to my corpses, and when publishers started thinking about bringing back romantic suspense, there I was with my much-rejected novel. I revised it and sold it to Avon, who had rejected it way back when. So I always tell new writers to persevere.
"I write because I like to create characters and tell stories. Not all my stories are light-hearted romances or mysteries. Some will sell, some won't. But I know I have to stretch myself and take risks … as a writer and as a person."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of Betrayals, p. 58; February 15, 1993, review of Tempting Fate, p. 234; February 5, 1996, review of Finding You, p. 83; February 10, 1997, review of Just Before Sunrise, p. 81; June 1, 1998, review of White Hot, p. 48B; January 25, 1999, review of Kiss the Moon, p. 93; October 4, 1999, review of On Fire, p. 71; April 24, 2000, review of The Waterfall, p. 67; November 27, 2000, review of The Carriage House, p. 60; December 3, 2001, review of The Cabin, p. 46; July 29, 2002, review of Stonebrook Cottage, p. 60; November 25, 2002, review of The Harbor, p. 49; April 12, 2004, review of Night's Landing, p. 44.
All About Romance, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (December 6, 2005), Anne Marble, review of Kiss the Moon, M. Stillings, review of The Cabin, Ellen D. Micheletti, review of The Carriage House, Lynn Spencer, review of Cold Ridge, Leigh Thomas, review of The Harbor, Liz Zink, review of Night's Landing, Ann Marble, review of On Fire, Sandy Coleman, review of Stonebrook Cottage, Candy Tan, review of The Waterfall.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (December 6, 2005), Harriet Klausner, reviews of Night's Landing, Cold Ridge, Stonebrook Cottage, The Cabin, The Harbor, and The Rapids.
Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/ (February 27, 2001), interview with Carla Neggers.
Belgrave House Web site, http://www.belgravehouse.com/ (December 6, 2005), autobiography of Carla Neggers.
BookTalk, http://www.booktalk.com/ (March 6, 2001), "Carla Neggers: Biography."
Carla Neggers Home Page, http://www.carlaneggers.com (December 6, 2005).
Carla Neggers Web Log, http://carlaneggers.blogspot.com (December 6, 2005).
Whitestone Books, http://www.whitestone.com/ (March 6, 2001), Harriet Klausner, reviews of The Waterfall and The Carriage House.