Proctor, Candice E. 1954-
Proctor, Candice E. 1954-
(Steven Graham, C.S. Harris)
Born September 29, 1954, in SD; daughter of Raymond L. (an Air Force officer) and Bernadine Proctor; married; children: two. Education: University of Idaho, B.A., 1975; earned M.A. and Ph. D.; attended the American School of Classical Studies.
Novelist. Former professor at the University of Idaho and Midwestern State University in Texas. Former field archaeologist at sites in San Juan Island, Tennessee, Australia, and England. Former partner in an international business consulting firm.
Best First Book, Romantic Times, 1997, for Night in Eden; Best British Isles Historical, Romantic Times, 2001, for Whispers in Heaven; Best American Historical, Romantic Times, 2002, for Midnight Confessions.
NOVELS, EXCEPT WHERE NOTED
Night in Eden, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Bequest, Wheeler Publishing (Rockland, MA), 1998.
September Moon, Fawcett Gold Medal (New York, NY), 1999.
The Last Knight, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Whispers of Heaven, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Midnight Confessions, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2002.
Beyond Sunrise, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 2003.
AS C.S. HARRIS
What Angels Fear, New American Library (New York, NY), 2005.
When Gods Die, New American Library (New York, NY), 2006.
Why Mermaids Sing, New American Library (New York, NY), 2007.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
The Archangel Project, as Steven Graham.
Candice E. Proctor's first serious attempt at writing fiction occurred in the early 1990s, after completing her first book, the nonfiction Women, Equality, and the French Revolution. Romance was her genre of choice, and she quickly learned that she had been misinformed that romances were easy novels to get published. Around this time a well-traveled Proctor settled with her family in Australia, and it was there that she found her niche—historical romance—and the inspiration for her first work of fiction, Night in Eden. The novel follows a young English woman found guilty of manslaughter who is sent to the penal colonies of Australia. She discovers she is pregnant on the journey, though her infant son dies not long after her arrival. She is chosen by a recent widower as his son's wet nurse, and a relationship begins to develop between the two. Kathe Robin described Proctor in a review for the Romantic Times Online as "a refreshing new voice." She further added: "There is great power in her writing and strong characterization, masterful storytelling and sensuality all add spice to her inborn talent."
In The Bequest, a young teacher-in-training travels from her native Louisiana to the wild west when she inherits her mother's house. Upon her arrival she learns the house is actually a brothel, and the protagonist is faced with the struggles of running her new "business" with the help of the co-owner and eventual love interest. Romantic Times Online contributor Kathe Robin commented: "Candice Proctor knows how to create characters that take center stage and incorporate history into their stories with a sure hand." In a review for the Romance Reader, Lesley Dunlap remarked: "Her character development is deeper and more convincing than that in most romances, and the use of setting is unusually effective."
September Moon is the second of Proctor's novels set in Australia. A governess looking for just enough work to pay her fare home to England is recruited by a single father, only to realize she is being sent to a remote area to care for out-of-control children. She unintentionally falls in love with the wild countryside and with her charges' father. Kathe Robin commended the book in another Romantic Times Online review as a "brilliant portrayal of the beauty and ruggedness of Australia and the powerful people who survive there."
Proctor made a change of scenery in her next novel, The Last Knight, placing the characters in medieval Europe. A young woman disguises herself as a boy to send a message of impending war to her brother, a knight in the king's army. Along her journey, she is rescued from an ambush by a traveling knight; when he learns her secret the two begin a romance that is later threatened by secrets of his own. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Proctor "adeptly captures the splendor, romance and brutality of medieval Europe." Romantic Times Online contributor Kathe Robin regarded the book as having "vibrant descriptions, fast-paced action and unforgettable characters."
Whispers of Heaven contains a seemingly familiar story line—a woman being forced to choose between her family's expectations and true love—that is set in an unfamiliar locale, the plantations of mid-nineteenth-century Tasmania. The protagonist returns from a long journey abroad to a secure but loveless relationship with a longtime friend, but falls in love with a stable worker with no future, and is forced to make a difficult decision between two life paths. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote: "Vividly drawn characters and a surprising but satisfying denouement will ensure that this tale is well-received."
Midnight Confessions is a Civil War-era drama that garnered Proctor much critical praise. Writing for Best Reviews, Janice Bennett concluded the book is "an intricately woven tale of murder, betrayal and love. It is populated with uncommonly multi-dimensional characters, the setting is exotic, and the plot is intricate, with many twists and turns." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented: "A gripping plot, arresting characters and a thoroughly researched setting combine to make this a remarkable read." Booklist reviewer Mary K. Chelton described the novel as "a superbly suspenseful historical romance." Harriet Klausner wrote in a Best Reviews article: "Candice Proctor furnishes the audience with a strong historical intrigue that will garner the author new readers from non-romance buffs as well as delightful responses from her myriad of fans."
A travel writer convinces a local guide to assist her on a research trip to Polynesia, in Beyond Sunrise. The two face physical and emotional dangers as they travel to an isolated island and begin to develop feelings for one another. "Rich in evocative details, challenging conflicts and vibrant, multi-dimensional characters, this atmospheric intrigue is … sultry and seductive," was the description by a Publishers Weekly contributor. Best Reviews writer Suan Wilson maintained that "readers will savor this book's vivid South Pacific scenes under Ms. Proctor's descriptive pen."
With her next few novels, Proctor ventured out of historical romances and, under the name C.S. Harris, into a new genre: historical mysteries. What Angels Fear introduces a new character, an English viscount who is framed for the murder of a popular actress and ultimately escapes from his imprisonment to establish the true identity of the killer. The series continues with When Gods Die, when the protagonist is asked to solve a murder with a mysterious link to the death of his own mother and ultimately connects to a plot to overthrow the throne. Library Journal reviewer Rex E. Klett wrote regarding What Angels Fear: "Appealing characters, authentic historical details, and sound plotting make this an amazing debut." "Harris cleverly blends fact and fiction into a haunting debut mystery," stated Romantic Times Online contributor Kathe Robin. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that Proctor "deftly combines political intrigue, cleverly concealed clues and vivid characters for a fast-moving story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2002, Mary K. Chelton, review of Midnight Confessions, p. 1695.
Library Journal, October 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of What Angels Fear, p. 61.
Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2000, review of The Last Knight, p. 180; June 4, 2001, review of Whispers of Heaven, p. 64; May 13, 2002, review of Midnight Confessions, p. 57; March 31, 2003, review of Beyond Sunrise, p. 48; September 18, 2006, review of When Gods Die, p. 39.
Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (May 3, 2003), Suan Wilson, review of Beyond Sunrise; (December 25, 2006), reviews of Midnight Confession, by Janice Bennett and Harriet Klausner.
Candice Proctor Home Page,http://www.candiceproctor.com (December 25, 2006).
Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (December 25, 2006), Lesley Dunlap, review of The Bequest.
Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (December 25, 2006), Kathe Robin, reviews of Night in Eden, September Moon, The Bequest, The Last Knight, and What Angels Fear. *