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Riker, Leigh 1941-

RIKER, Leigh 1941-

PERSONAL: Born May 24, 1941, in Akron, OH; daughter of Robert Andrew (an auditor) and Mona (a secretary; maiden name, Perry) Bartley; married Donald K. Riker (a scientist), October 30, 1965; children: Scott, Hal. Education: Kent State University, B.A., 1963. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, history of the Middle Ages, movies, gardening, playing the piano, long walks, reading, horseback riding.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—683 Deer Run Trail, Lebanon, OH 45036. Agent—Curtis Brown Ltd., 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: John Wiley & Sons (publisher), New York, NY, secretary to the executive editor in textbook division, 1964-66; University of Kansas, Lawrence, secretary in economics department, 1966-68; American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York, NY, administrative assistant, 1968-70; self-employed typist and manuscript editor, 1970-76; freelance writer, 1976—; Writer's Digest School, editorial associate, 1991. Also taught creative writing at Writer's Digest School. Full-time writer. Has served as a judge for the RITA Awards, the Women's Fiction Writers Association's Great Beginnings, the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star Writing Competition, the Wyoming Writers Adult Fiction contest, and the Connecticut RWA Now and Then writing contests.

MEMBER: Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America (Ohio Valley chapter), Published Authors Network (former cochair, Career Planning Subcommittee), Novelists, Inc.

WRITINGS:

Heartsong, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1985.

Acts of Passion, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1985.

Morning Rain, Harper (New York, NY), 1991.

Unforgettable, Harper (New York, NY), 1993.

Tears of Jade, Harper (New York, NY), 1993.

Just One of Those Things, Harper (New York, NY), 1994.

Oh, Susannah, Harper (New York, NY), 1995.

Danny Boy, Harper (New York, NY), 1995.

Lady Killer (e-book), StarPublications.com, 2000.

Strapless, Red Dress Ink (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Contributor of short stories to Woman's World, under name Leigh Bartley, and of articles to writers' magazines.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Double Take, a romance for Intrigue; a project for Red Dress Ink.

SIDELIGHTS: Leigh Riker has crafted romance novels featuring endearing heroines who grapple with tragedy. Her characterization, real-life conflict, and crisp writing have earned her a loyal following and much critical acclaim.

Riker's novel Acts of Passion introduced heroine Gillian Shephard, an actress aspiring for a part in a Broadway play. Gillian is granted her dream, but only to have it fall through, along with her romantic relationship. Gillian is left to pick up the pieces of her life alone. Gillian is like many of Riker's heroines in that readers can relate to her struggles and failures—a reason why so many devour her books. Riker's heroine Erin Brodey Sinclair is an unhappily married woman struggling to keep her marriage together in Danny Boy. Erin's husband, Danny, contests with problems beyond the marriage, as his brother, Ken, pines away for Erin and resents Danny for neglecting the woman whom Ken truly loves. Writing for the Romantic Times Book Club reviewer Jill M. Smith observed, "Riker delivers a powerful and deeply moving exploration of a troubled marriage and a family on the brink of destruction." Smith then explained how this book differs from similar books on the market: "Ms. Riker expertly reveals the soul of this family, where there are no villains, just fallible, but caring, human beings."

Riker's novel Strapless may be the most well-received of all her novels. Darcie Baxter is a New York woman approaching thirty who yearns for success in her career and satisfaction in her current romantic relationship. Darcie is not a jet-setter, however. She lives in an apartment with her grandmother and works at Wunderthings Lingerie International, a company seeking to open an Australian branch and in search of someone to lead the operation. Darcie longs to be a travelling executive and is thrilled to receive the promotion. In Australia, she meets and has an affair with sheep rancher Dylan Rafferty. But when Darcie's two weeks Down Under are over, she discovers that Dylan is serious about her and wants a wife and family. With Darcie's career on the rise, she finds herself with some serious and unexpected decisions to make, pondering the modern woman's quandary of how to balance career and family—if Darcie decides that a family is what she wants. All Readers reviewer Harriet Klausner termed Strapless "an engaging contemporary romance that adds the flavor of Sydney to the mix." Klausner maintained that "the story line [of Strapless] is fun," and "readers will relish Leigh Riker's wild Down Under ride." In a review for Booklist, Kristine Huntley suggested a similar opinion of the book, calling it a "snappy, satisfying summer read."

"Before I started writing Strapless, I had wanted a fresh challenge," Riker told reviewer Lori A. May in an interview published in Heartstrings online. Commenting on her move toward mainstream fiction, Riker reported, "Strapless provided that [challenge] and I love taking this new direction for my work. But I think my voice has always been mainstream." When asked by interviewer May about the problems of taking a new direction with Strapless, Riker confessed that "writing Strapless just wasn't that difficult. In fact, it was a joy. For the first few weeks, my fingers just flew at the computer, a good sign, and that's rare, believe me. This book was a gift." Riker related to May details of the wonderful feedback she has gotten from readers, some with questions about writing themselves. To those who are inspired to write, Riker has this advice to offer: "If you have the dream to write, don't let anyone stop you." Riker once told CA: "I can remember having the urge to write from the age of eight. During grammar school I wrote what amounted to a teen soap opera. Had I practiced regularly from then on, I would have been published far sooner than I was." Riker concluded her interview with May by relating a message to her loyal readers: "You are the other end of the communication that runs between reader and writer, and a direct line to the heart."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, August, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of Strapless.

online

All Readers, http://www.allreaders.com/ (January 23, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of Strapless.

Eclectics, http://www.eclectics.com/ (January 23, 2004), "Leigh Riker."

Heartstrings, http://romanticfiction.com/ (January 23, 2004), Lori A. May, "An Interview with Leigh Riker."

Love Romances, http://www.loveromances.com/ (January 23, 2004), review of Strapless.

Red Dress Ink, http://www.reddressink.com/ (January 23, 3004), "Authors: Leigh Riker."

Romantic Times Book Club, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (January 23, 2004), "Author Information: Leigh Riker."*

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