Saturday, June 25, 2011

Contemporary Romance: LaVryle Spence and More Sandra Brown

Meet LaVryle Spencer

LaVyrle was born on July 17, 1943 in Browerville, Minnesota, USA, where she grew up. Married with her high school sweetheart Dan Spencer, shortly after her graduation, a decision she calls the wisest choice of her life. They had two daughters, Amy and Beth (d. 1990).

LaVyrle worked as a teacher's aide at Osseo Junior High School, when in her thirties, she read Kathleen Woodiwiss's novel "The Flame and Flower", which gave her the idea to become a novelist. She decided to try transferring to paper a recurring dream she was having about a story based on her grandmother's lifestyle on a Minnesota farm. Her story became her first manuscript, "The Fulfillment", and she sent it to Kathleen Woodiwiss. The bestselling author read the novel and promptly mailed it to her own editor at Avon. The editor purchased the novel, which was published in 1979. She was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame in 1988. She wrote 23 sweet historical and contemporany novels. Published around the world, her works had included 12 New York Times Bestsellers, and have been won 4 RITA Awards, 3 Golden Medallion Award and a Minnesota Book Awards. LaVyrle said: "the trademark of my books is mending relationships, showing people how to mend relationships."

LaVyrle was a founding member of the Midwest Fiction Writers (MFW), chapter 24 of the Romance Writers of America. Four of LaVyrle's novels was produced as television movies: The Fulfillment in 1989 (She and her husband appear as extras in the film), Morning Glory in 1993, Home Song in 1996 and Family Blessings in 1999.
LaVyrle and her husband are grandparents. Her husband was a retired estimator for a general contractor, and she also decided to retire from writing in 1997, after an 18 year career. They live in a Victorian house in her native Minnesota, where she enjoyes gardening, cooking, playing bass guitar and electric piano, and photography.

Then Came Heaven

Life is just about perfect for Eddie Olczak. A devoted husband and father, a man of unshakable faith, he derives intense pleasure from the life he's built with his beloved wife, Krystyna, and their two daughters, and is the dedicated handyman for St. Joseph's, the Catholic church that is the cornerstone of Browerville life. But when a tragic accident cuts Krystyna's life short, Eddie is sure his heart is broken forever. Krystyna was everything to him--his true companion. As friends and relatives rally around the family in the dark days and weeks that follow, there is one person who is unable to express what the loss of Krystyna means to her. Sister Regina, the girls' teacher at St. Joseph's school, has always felt a special affinity for the family. Yet her religious vows prevent her from becoming too close to them, even in their time of need.

In the past, Sister Regina had bristled under the constraints of the order, but always reaffirmed her commitment through prayer and contemplation. Now the strict rules of the Benedictine sisterhood, which once gave her life a sense of meaning, chafe at her more insistently. Time passes, and Sister Regina and Eddie Olczak continue to cross paths. Deep inside, they realize there is something between them--more than a kinship, a connection that somehow goes beyond their shared love of Krystyna and the girls. Thrilled--and secretly frightened--they both must summon the courage to look within their hearts and make their own choices. Powerful, moving, and deeply affecting, Then Came Heaven is a celebration of love and tenderness, a book LaVyrle Spencer's fans are sure to cherish long after the last page is turned.

Family Blessings

When Greg Reston, a young policeman in the small Minnesota town of Anoka, is killed in an automobile accident, it is up to his best friend and fellow officer Chris Lallek to break the news to Greg's widowed mother Lee. In the months following the tragedy, Chris proves invaluable to the Reston family, as a surrogate brother to Greg's siblings Janice, 23, and Joey, 14, and a source of unwavering emotional strength for all of them.

But underlying his devotion is a clandestine and highly charged affair with the 45-year-old Lee, 15 years his senior. Is their need for each other really love, or is it simply comfort for two grieving people? When Chris proposes marriage, Lee must consider not only her judgmental mother and prudish sister, but also Janice, who has developed a crush on Chris. Spencer depicts the Reston clan with empathy, presenting fully dimensional characters with carefully lined vulnerabilities and hostilities. While residing safely within the parameters of romance fiction, this novel has an appealing candor that transcends the genre.

Home Song

A seemingly Norman Rockwell-like family is at the center of Spencer's latest novel, and, as usual, Spencer reveals the hard truths that lie beneath the bright exterior. On the first day of school, high-school principal Tom Gardner thinks his biggest problem is finding the shipment of textbooks for his wife Claire's English class; but the most difficult ordeal of his life is about to begin. Tom's real troubles start when he meets a new student, Kent Arens, who turns out to be smart, well-mannered, a star athlete-and the illegitimate son Tom never knew he had, conceived during a one-night stand 18 years ago, just before Tom married Claire.

Tom swings between fear that Claire will find out about Kent and pride in his newfound son, but when the boy, unaware of his lineage, starts courting Tom's 16-year-old daughter, Chelsea, Tom is forced to reveal his secret. Claire, bitter and angry, asks Tom to move out of their home. Robby, their son, resents his new brother and takes out his anger on Kent on the football field. Chelsea, meanwhile, starts running with the wrong crowd. But while Tom and Claire grow farther apart, the three siblings decide to become friends. Together, they reunite Tom and Claire, restoring family harmony. While the course of events is predictable, the characters are warmly drawn and their dilemmas realistic, and Spencer knows how to tug at readers' hearstrings.

Sweet Memories

A story of passion. A story of pain. A story that will make you laugh -- and cry -- as it brings warmth and magic into your heart. Sweet Memories is a classic love story to savor . . . and one you will never forget.

As innocent as she was unsure, Theresa Brubaker had lived much of her twenty-five years trapped in a body she loathed. Her precious beauty was treasured by everyone but herself -- until a very special man showed her a very special love.

Proud, sensitive, caring, Brian Scanlon sought to unleash the butterfly wrapped in Theresa's cocoon of inhibitions. But trust for Theresa came haltingly . . . and a bold, courageous decision she makes alone nearly destroys the promise of their love.

Author Sandra Brown
Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into thirty-three languages.

A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart, and in television, including weathercasting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated program "PM Magazine."

She is much in demand as a speaker and guest television hostess. Her episode on truTV's "Murder by the Book" premiered the series in 2008 and she was one of the launch authors for Investigation Discovery's new series, "Hardcover Mysteries."

In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer's Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Tyler Family Trilogy

Texas! Lucky

The first book in #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown’s beloved Texas! trilogy introduces readers to a close-knit family struggling to go on without its patriarch—and to a man in pursuit of an elusive woman who may hold his future in her hands.

 Charismatic and easy on the eyes, Lucky Tyler is a born rebel. His romantic conquests have earned him his nickname, while his temper gives him his reputation as the family hothead. One night, he gets in a fight over a woman in distress, followed by a night of passion neither of them will soon forget. But the lady in question has a knack for disappearing. When news breaks of a suspicious fire at Tyler Drilling, Lucky is the prime suspect. Now the mystery woman is more than just the object of his obsession. She’s his alibi.
Devon Haines has tried her best to escape Lucky. Yet his bold pursuit and self-assurance are irresistible. In order to clear him of criminal charges, she must reveal her darkest secret; withholding her help could cost him everything he holds dear. Either way, she risks losing him forever.

Texas! Chase

This slick contemporary romance focuses on a second member of the Texas Tyler family, the clan first seen in Texas! Lucky . It is a switch on the hoary scenario of boy loves girl, loses girl, wins girl: in these feminist times it is the girl (here a woman with her own real estate agency) who does the loving, the losing and the winning. Marcie Johns has loved Chase Tyler since grade school, but, being the class brain, knew she didn't have a chance with the handsome boy who called her Goosey.

Years later, she has been retained by Chase and his wife, Tanya, to find the couple a house. When Tanya is killed in the car Marcie is driving, the bereaved Chase goes on the skids and it is Marcie who sobers him up, gets him back into the failing family oil business, offers a loan, and proposes marriage. Marcie's machinations are misunderstood by Chase, adding a modicum of interest to an overly formulaic plot. The novel climaxes with Marcie and Chase in bed, where love conquers all.

Texas! Sage

The third and final novel in the Tyler Family Trilogy features the spoiled youngest daughter of the Dallas-like Tyler clan and her passionate search for love. She's young. She's headstrong. She's Texan, and she's blond. But she's also a virgin, and in this world where women like their men ``buck naked,'' inexperienced females like Sage Tyler can't be expected to know their own minds. Just graduated from the University of Texas with an MBA, this youngest heir of the temporarily-out-of-pocket Tyler oil family (little sister to the two previous books' male heroes, Chase and Lucky) is jilted by her snobbish upper-crust fiance‚ on Christmas Eve. Outraged, the family spitfire hides the news from her older brothers while she plots her revenge.

But Harlan Boyd, the long, lean hired-hand-with-a- mysterious-past just taken on at Tyler Drilling, learns Sage's secret and can't resist teasing her about it now and then. Sage hates being teased. Through business crises, a family baby boomlet, and a desperate swing across Texas--in which Sage and Harlan try to sell remodeled oil- well pumps to farmers as irrigation pumps--Sage tussles with this smooth-talking inappropriate male until his past is exposed and Harlan is revealed to be ``loaded with a capital L''--rich enough to save Tyler Drilling and marry Sage--rhinestones, shoulder-pads, and all. 

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