Sommerfield, Sylvie 1931-1994
Sommerfield, Sylvie 1931-1994
PERSONAL: Born November 22, 1931, in New Castle, PA; died 1994; married John Sommerfield, 1954; children: two.
CAREER: Romance novelist, beauty salon owner, and religion-class teacher.
AWARDS, HONORS: Gold Certificate Award, Affaire de Coeur, 1987, for Elusive Swan; Favorite Author Silver Pen Award, Affaire de Coeur, 1988; Romantic Times Storyteller of the Year award, 1986; Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, two-time winner.
Erin's Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1980.
Tazia's Torment, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1980.
Rebel Pride, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1980.
Rapture's Angel, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1981.
Deanna's Desire, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1981.
Tamara's Ecstasy, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1982.
Savage Rapture, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1982.
Kristen's Passion, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Cherish Me, Embrace Me, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Tame My Wild Heart, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Betray Not My Passion, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Savage Kiss, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Captive Embrace, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Moonlit Magic, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Catalina's Caress, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Elusive Swan, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Wild Wyoming Heart, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Autumn Dove, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Fires of Surrender, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Night Star, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1991.
Bittersweet, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Passion's Raging Storm, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1992.
Love's Stolen Promises, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1992.
Moon-kissed Promises, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1993.
Promises of Love, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1994.
Song of the Heart, Pinnacle (New York, NY), 1995.
Winter Seasons, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Night Walker, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Forever, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Velvet and Steel, Leisure Books (New York, NY) 1999.
Contributor to anthologies such as A Bride's Passion.
SIDELIGHTS: Sylvie Sommerfield was the author of more than thirty romance novels. Most of her work was historical, set in locations such as the post-U.S. Civil War South, the frontiers of the American West, and the castles and battlefields of medieval Europe. Sommerfield "uses a rather melodramatic style of writing to convey a spirit of love and romance," observed a biographer in Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers. "She also uses elements of mystery to increase the sense of tension for her readers."
A former beautician, Sommerfield turned the stories she heard from people in her chair into characters and settings in her books. In mid-1985, reported Marcia Dunn in Chicago Sun-Times, there were more than four million copies of Sommerfield's novels—then numbering only thirteen—in print. A biographer on the Better than Chocolate Press Web site estimated that, in 1994, there were better than fourteen million copies of Sommerfield's works in print. The prolific author was so successful that her husband, a financial investor, retired to become her manager, Dunn stated.
Beginning with Erin's Ecstasy, released in 1980, Sommerfield embarked on a lengthy career as a romance novelist. In Love's Stolen Promises, Mitchell and Whitney Clayborn, lovers in the Antebellum south, are separated by misunderstanding parents and the U.S. Civil War. When Mitchell returns after the war, Whitney's courtship with wealthy but mysterious Trent Donnelly is jeopardized. As Whitney's affections for Mitchell conflict with her feeling that he betrayed her, she conspires to hide their son from him. In the meantime, revelations about Trent confirm that he is a villain through and through, and a mysterious stranger turns out to be Whitney's endangered brother who sent incriminating letters about Trent during the war.
When Trace Cord returns from the war in Moonlit Magic, his parents are dead and his brother is missing. A looming tax bill threatens to strip Trace and his sister of everything they own, but an offer of employment from railroad magnate Maxwell Starett seems to be the solution to the Cord's money woes. While working as a railroad troubleshooter, Trace meets and falls in love with Jenny Graham, who is the victim of a plot by wealthy town banker Taylor Jessup to steal both Jenny's land and Jenny herself. While other players plot to frustrate the railroad's expansion for their own benefit, another mysterious stranger—this time, Trace's brother, Michael—works from the shadows to foil Jessup.
Sisters Brittany and Tempest overcome a tragic past to become strong women in Night Walker. Making a home in a western mission village, the two work with the Sioux to teach them how to interact with the encroaching world of white men. As Sioux brothers Soaring Eagle and Night Walker fight to protect their sacred lands, their passions for Brittany and Tempest grow to overwhelming proportions. When a villainous sort discovers gold in the vicinity, the village and the mission are threatened with destruction for the sake of greed. "Despite the many characters, this book dangles us from a hook of suspense with each page," commented Anne Black on RomanticTimes.com.
A royal decree finds Royce, a knight under William the Conqueror, ordered by his king to marry Lynette of Cragenwald in order to keep the peace in Sommerfield's medieval romance Velvet and Steel. Unhappy with the order but determined to obey his king, Royce tries to win the reluctant Lynette, whose main duty in life is to care for her father in his ill health. Over time, animosity and stubbornness give way to more tender emotions. Lynette is surprised to find herself drawn to Royce and his daughter, Cerise. The two travel to London to wed, but the wedding is foiled by a threat from jealous Oriel, Cerise's caretaker, who desires to make Royce her own, and by a conspiracy to overthrow the king. "Rich in medieval history, plot twists, and memorable characters, Velvet and Steel is a pleasure to read," remarked Evelyn Feiner in a Romantic Times Book Club Web site review.
Sommerfield tackled a contemporary romance with her novel Bittersweet. Police detective Carl Forrester cannot escape the tragic past, when his wife was murdered by a group of criminals who had sworn revenge on him. Though he avenged his wife, the emotional trauma was too great, and he left town to try to come to terms with the terrible events he'd experienced. When he returns to try to help a friend track down a psychopathic killer, his personal and professional life begin to fray. Carl begins a relationship with librarian Beth Raleigh, who is on the mend from a bad marriage. "Sommerfield portrays the hesitancy of both Carl and Beth to venture into a new relationship convincingly," commented the biographer in Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers. The biographer noted that in Bittersweet, Sommerfield displayed a continued development and refinement of her style and storytelling skill.
Sommerfield died unexpectedly in 1994.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Chicago Sun-Times, December 15, 1985, Marcia Dunn, "Sylvie Listens … And Tells All," p. 78.
All about Romance Web site, http://www.likesbooks.com/ (December 17, 2004), Claudia Terrones, review of Velvet and Steel; Blythe Barnhill, review of Forever.
Better than Chocolate Press Web site, http://www.better-than-chocolate.com/ (December 17, 2004), "Sylvie Sommerfield."
RomanticTimes.com, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (December 17, 2004), Anne Black, review of Night Walker and Noah's Woman; Evelyn Feiner, review of Forever and Velvet and Steel; Kathe Robin, review of Song of the Heart.