Rogers, Evelyn 1935-
ROGERS, Evelyn 1935-
(Keller Graves, a joint pseudonym)
PERSONAL: Born August 30, 1935, in Mobile, AL; daughter of James (a mariner) and Jessie (a homemaker; maiden name, Butler) Graves; married Jay Rogers (a retired journalist), March 22, 1957; children: two. Ethnicity: "White." Education: North Texas State University, B.A. (English and journalism), 1957; Our Lady of the Lake University, M.A. (library science), 1975. Politics: Independent. Religion: Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Nineteenth-century opera, world travel.
ADDRESSES: Home—2722 Belvoir Dr., San Antonio, TX 78230. Office—8039 Callaghan Rd. Suite 102, San Antonio, TX 78230. Agent—Evan Marshall Agency, 6 Tristam Pl., Pine Brook, NJ 07058-9445. E-mail— [email protected]
CAREER: Former newspaper reporter, Odessa American, Odessa, TX; worked as a middle-school teacher and school librarian in Texas, 1965-90; full-time writer, 1990—; speaker at writers' conferences.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America, National Society of Arts and Letters, Novelists, Inc., San Antonio Romance Authors, Opera Guild of San Antonio.
AWARDS, HONORS: First annual Prism award for best light paranormal novel, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of Romance Writers of America, 1997, for Wicked.
romance novels; with kathryn davenport, under joint pseudonym keller graves
Brazen Embrace, Zebra (New York, NY), 1987.
Rapture's Gamble, Zebra (New York, NY), 1987.
Desire's Fury, Zebra (New York, NY), 1988.
Velvet Vixen, Zebra (New York, NY), 1988.
Lawman's Lady, Zebra (New York, NY), 1988.
Midnight Sins, Zebra (New York, NY), 1989.
Texas Kiss, Zebra (New York, NY), 1989.
Wanton Slave, Zebra (New York, NY), 1990.
A Love So Wild, Zebra (New York, NY), 1991.
Surrender to the Night, Zebra (New York, NY), 1991.
Sweet Texas Magic, Zebra (New York, NY), 1992.
Desert Fire, Zebra (New York, NY), 1992.
Desert Heat, Zebra (New York, NY), 1993.
Flame, Zebra (New York, NY), 1994.
Raven, Zebra (New York, NY), 1995.
Angel, Zebra (New York, NY), 1995.
Wicked, Love Spell (New York, NY), 1996.
The Forever Bride, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Betrayal, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Hot Temper, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Second Opinion, Love Spell (New York, NY), 1999.
Golden Man, Love Spell (New York, NY), 1999.
(Coauthor) Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Leisure Books, (New York, NY), 2000.
Devil in the Dark, Love Spell (New York, NY), 2000.
The Loner, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Grotto, Love Spell (New York, NY), 2002.
The Ghost of Carnal Cove, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Dark of the Moon, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2003.
"texas empires" series; romance novels
Crown of Glory, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Lone Star, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Longhorn, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Also contributor of novellas to anthologies, including "Cactus and Thistle," Christmas Rendezvous, Zebra (New York, NY), 1991; "A Christmas Wagon," A Christmas Caress, Zebra, 1993; "Always Paradise," Love beyond Time, Avon (New York, NY), 1994; "Gentle Rain," Seasons of Love, Harper (New York, NY), 1995; "The Gold Digger," Indulgence, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1997; and "Lair of the Wolf," Sweet Revenge, Leisure Books, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: A native of Alabama and adopted Texan, Evelyn Rogers has made a successful career as a romance and historical novelist after retiring from her teaching career in 1990. She has, however, been a writer throughout her adult life. Her first job after college was as a crime and government reporter for a West Texas newspaper which Rogers describes, in her online biography, as "crusading." It was during the last eight years of her teaching career that she began writing historical romances in collaboration with friend Kathryn Davenport, under the pseudonym Keller Graves—a combination of the two women's maiden names. After two unpublished tries, the team struck gold with Brazen Embrace, which was published by Zebra in 1987. Four more collaborative novels followed between 1987 and 1988.
Rogers eventually went out on her own to write around a dozen more novels for Zebra. The first of these was the 1989 Midnight Sins, and it was followed by a series of novels whose titles indicated the level of passionate heat in their contents, and often, their Southwestern locales: Texas Kiss, Wanton Slave, A Love So Wild, Sweet Texas Magic, Desert Fire, Desert Heat, Flame, and more. In the last novel of that period, the 1995 Angel, a young bride, the last-born girl in her family, marries a man who seeks vengeance upon her father. He takes her from Savannah, Georgia, to Ireland's Bantry Bay in order to separate her from her family; it is at this point that she must teach her new husband the true meaning of love. This novel earned positive notices from genre reviewers in Paperback Forum and Old Book Barn Gazette.
After a long, happy association with Zebra Books, Rogers switched to an equally satisfying relationship with the Leisure/Love Spell group, beginning in 1996 with Wicked. This complex novel combines a Western setting, afterlife fantasy, and lighthearted romance. In it, outlaw Cad Rankin is shot dead, but gets a second chance when an angel assigns him to clean up the meanest town in Texas, a place called Rough Cut. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, heroine Amy Lattimer, after a convent education, learns that her late mother was actually a top-ranked courtesan in her pleasure-loving city. Reading her mother's diary—and not liking the looks of a fiancee picked for her by her mother—Amy decides to travel to Rough Cut and follow in her mother's professional footsteps. The outlaw trying to be good and the convent girl trying to be bad meet for a romance that vastly entertained both romance readers and critics. Romantic Times, Paperback Forum, Rendezvous, Affaire de Coeur, and Rawhide and Lace were among the periodicals giving praise to Wicked; and the Fantasy Chapter of the Romance Writers of America rewarded the novel with its first-ever Prism award for a light paranormal book.
More recent novels have continued to fuel Rogers's success. Published in 1997, The Forever Bride is a time-travel novel set in Scotland. Heroine Meagan Butler, an advertising executive with a romantic streak, wants to be married in a historic Scottish church, but while saying her wedding vows she finds herself transported two hundred years back in time and into the arms of laird Robert Cameron. Fixing the time-glitch and learning to love Robert are Meagan's twin tasks, and she solves them well enough to have received plaudits from reviewers for Rendezvous, Literary Times, and Affaire de Coeur.
Also published in 1997, Betrayal is a Texas-based romance in which heroine Crystal Branden sets out to deceive handsome Conn O'Brien in order to protect her mother and younger brother, but finds herself falling in love with her prey instead. Betrayal resulted in a spinoff novel, Hot Temper, also published in 1997, featuring a character from the earlier book: a half-Indian son of an English earl who inherits his father's Texas ranch and finds himself saddled with a fiery, redheaded cook named Temper.
Rogers's love for and understanding of her Texas homeland has led her to create a series of Westerns, the "Texas Empires" books, that began in 1998 with the novel Texas Empires: Crown of Glory. In this series, readers are told of the establishment of a great ranch, and the passionate men and women involved in that undertaking.
Like other top romance novelists, Rogers has also contributed novellas to her publisher's seasonal anthologies. For HarperMonogram's Seasons of Love, she wrote "Gentle Rain," the story of a romance between a Tennessee ingenue who wants to go to the big city and a bootlegger with a bad reputation. For Leisure's Indulgence, she penned "The Gold Digger," a tale of a young woman who yearns to marry for money but finds herself involved in true love instead. Two earlier novellas, "Cactus and Thistle" and "A Christmas Wagon," were Christmas specials for Zebra collections published in 1991 and 1993 respectively.
In addition to writing about her home state of Texas, Rogers has expanded into the Gothic romance genre with a series of books. Devil in the Dark opens with young heiress Lucinda Fairfax traveling from New York to England to claim her estate in North Yorkshire. On her way up a lonely road, Lucinda is nearly run over by a dark figure riding a wild horse. The man, she learns, is Gideon Blackthorne, the "Devil Duke" of Ravenwood. Lucinda finds herself helplessly drawn to the mystery man, despite the warnings of others to avoid him. "While her feelings for Gideon leave her feeling confused," noted Leena Hyat in Best Reviews, "she experiences more uneasiness in other ways also. For one, it soon becomes clear that her own staff wants her out of the house and gone." BookBrowser reviewer Harriet Klausner called Devil in the Dark "a powerful Gothic romance" and cited the lead couple as "a charming duo struggling with their personal conflicting emotions."
Klausner also reviewed Rogers's second Gothic, The Grotto, which represents a departure for the author; the action takes place not in the Old West or Victorian England, but in Tuscany, Italy, where American-born Contessa Caterina "Kate" Donati overcomes hostility and treacherous conditions to find love with Roberto Vela. "Perfect" was Klausner's assessment of elements of the story: "The locale is perfect … while Kate is the perfect female protagonist."
In an online interview with Claire White for Writers Write, Rogers revealed that a trip to Tuscany provided the impetus to write The Grotto. "I had long wanted to write a book set there but feared it wouldn't sell," she told White. "I am most comfortable with American heroines and decided an American contessa caught in tragic circumstances might work." Caterina, the author added, was created as "a put-upon daughter and wife, dictated to by men, left by those same men in a situation that threatens her survival….Shecaneithercurl up and die or fight back. I like an oppressed heroine who puts up a valiant struggle against fate, over-coming her own weakness, and yes, especially, conquering the men who oppress her."
Rogers's third Gothic, The Ghost of Carnal Cove, takes the author back to familiar ground: the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. Heroine Makenna Lindsay arrives on the remote seaside village to mend a broken heart after being spurned by the man she loves. Instead of the peace and quiet she expected Makenna instead finds intrigue and romance via the dashing and arrogant sea captain Nicholas Saintjohn. But can he be trusted? As Rogers remarked in Writers Write, "There are enough secrets in this one to fill a couple of books."
Discussing the link between her first careers—journalism and teaching—and her romance writing, Rogers told White: "I like to think I have a clean style of writing as a legacy from journalism. By clean, I mean focused on the characters and purpose of each scene, with not a lot of extraneous matter thrown in. Teaching, however, gave me the most help. I taught characterization, plot development, mood, tone, irony, dialogue—all the tools a writer needs to tell a story. I've always said if you want to know a subject, teach it. You can't get in front of a class of thirteen year olds and wing anything."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1999, Deborah Rysson, review of Golden Man, p. 841.
Best Reviews,http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (July 4, 2001), Leena Hyat, review of Devil in the Dark.
BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (October 29, 2000), Harriet Klausner, review of Devil in the Dark; (April 21, 2002) Harriet Klausner, review of The Grotto.
Evelyn Rogers Web site,http://www.evelynrogers.com/ (September 5, 2003).
Writers Write,http://www.writerswrite.com/ (May, 2002), Claire White, "A Conversation with Evelyn Rogers."*