Inspired by this very page, Harlequin put together an Anne Stuart Out-Of-Print Gems eBook bundle that is now available at Amazon and other online retailers. The bundle includes: Night of the Phantom, One More Valentine, Cinderman, The Soldier and the Baby, and Wild Thing.
The books listed below are some of Anne’s personal favorites from her long career. Check out her comments to see why each book was, and still is, important to her.
The Demon Count (1980) Dell Candlelight Intrigue.
The Demon Count was the fourth book I ever wrote, still in my early gothic mode, written on a typewriter. It was my first book with explicit sex in it, though the editors made me cut half of it. The heroine was your prototypical starchy spinster, the hero a seductive and dangerous Venetian count who had the occupying Austrian army and half the city convinced he was a vampire. Around the time I finished it my best friend’s aunt, a major editor at Knopf, asked how my writing was coming. I blithely told her I just reached my peak, though I had every intention of hitting a great many more as my career went on. I must have been about thirty when I wrote it, and I still adore it.
Lord Satan’s Bride (1981) Dell Candlelight Regency. This was Anne’s first regency, written during that short period when regencies were the hottest sub-genre around.
I wrote Lord Satan’s Bride fast—one month, and this was typewritten as well. In general I’m not interested in taking old books and reworking them, but Lord Satan’s Bride is one book that could turn out to be quite amazing if I got to add a hundred or so pages. The heroine is a shy vicar’s daughter, the hero as bad as a bad boy can be (hence the name, Lord Satan), plus a charming subplot with Tynan the Irish stablehand and the spinster of the house.
Tangled Lies (1984) Harlequin Intrigue. One of the very first Harlequin Intrigues, it was the first book she wrote on a computer and it’s always been one of her favorites. It’s the story of a girl looking for her lost brother, an anti-war activist who’d gone underground. The hero, for reasons of his own, pretends to be that missing brother, which makes things difficult when the heroine falls in love with him.
Catspaw (1984) the first of the books about Patrick Blackheart, cat burglar extraordinaire, and his reluctant partner in crime who’s terrified of heights.
Against the Wind (1985) Candlelight Ecstasy Supreme. Anne often says this is one of her top five books. It was set in a fictional Nicaragua, the hero was a soldier of fortune who’d known the heroine when she was young. It was Anne’s first of what editors called Rambo-romances—running through the jungle while falling in love.
Blue Sage (1987) Harlequin American and one of her first risky books. The hero was a loner, someone who walked (the Continental Divide, the Appalachian Trail, from east coast to west coast). His father had been a Korean war veteran who’d had a psychotic break and shot up the tiny town in Montana years before, killing twenty-seven people before killing himself. The heroine was one of those wounded, and she still walks with a limp. When the hero shows up in town animals start turning up dead and danger lurks around every corner.
Night of the Phantom (1991) Harlequin American.
Night of the Phantom was a major career turning point. It seemed very risky at the time, and it was one of those I wrote in a white-heat, barely taking time to eat. I’d just suffered a loss in my family, and at that point I wasn’t interested in being a docile author or playing by the rules—I just went full-tilt into it, trying to forget my grief, and fortunately it worked.
Prior to the creation of this page on my site, it had never been reprinted, even though it was a big success and made it into RWA’s list of top ten books of the year (or whatever they were calling it back then). I think they’re waiting for me to hit the Big Time. It even had Fabio on the cover.
It is a dreamy, erotic take on Phantom of the Opera crossed with Beauty and the Beast, with ghosts and crazed fundamentalists thrown in for good measure. Love this book. Update: Night of the Phantom is now available in Harlequin's OoP Gems Collection (see top of page).
One More Valentine (1993) Harlequin American. This Rita finalist was inspired by a wisecrack. Anne’s editors asked her to do a Valentine’s Day novella and she replied “only if you’ll let me do the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” She ended up writing that novella about Cupid and St. Nicholas, but the gangland massacre stayed in her head, and she ended up with a hero who died in Chicago in the twenties but who got to come back every Valentine’s Day to try to find true love. Update: One More Valentine is now available in Harlequin's OoP Gems Collection (see top of page).
Cinderman (1994) Harlequin American. Was one of the first More than Men subseries. It was over the top, tongue in cheek, and an underground classic. The hero was your typical mild-manner scientist who gets caught up in a laboratory accident, and he found he could start fires if he blinked and twitched his nose like Samantha on Bewitched, and he was invisible for one hour at eight in the morning and eight at night. The spunky heroine known for her in-your-face t-shirts, only got to get rid of her glasses. Update: Cinderman is now available in Harlequin's OoP Gems Collection (see top of page).
Cinderman has lots of fun, including invisible sex.
The Soldier and the Baby (1995) Harlequin American. Was originally titled The Soldier, the Nun and the Baby. Another Rambo-romance, the soldier of fortune hero picks up a nun from a Latin American convent, along with baby who was left behind, and tries to get them to safety. Update: The Soldier and the Baby is now available in Harlequin's OoP Gems Collection (see top of page).
Wild Thing (2000) Anne's most last Harlequin American. A Wild Child story – the hero had grown up in the jungle like Tarzan, the heroine was an anthropologist brought in to study him, only to discover he was being held prisoner. Anne’s characters go through two hundred pages and two love scenes before they ever have a conversation (She thinks he can’t talk, when she finds out that he can she’s so pissed she gives him the silent treatment). Update: Wild Thing is now available in Harlequin's OoP Gems Collection (see top of page).
Around that time Anne began writing historicals for Avon. Her first, the oddly titled A Rose at Midnight (1993), had an unwise setting (revolutionary France) and an extremely dark hero. It starts with the heroine, a French cook, poisoning the hero, who responds by carrying her off. She keeps trying to kill him, he keeps surviving, and there’s a charming seondary romance as well. It’s a Desert Isle Keeper at All About Romance. Update: A Rose at Midnight is now available as a reissued classic.
To Love a Dark Lord (1994) was another favorite, though a frustrating one for Anne. Another Desert Isle Keeper. Update: To Love a Dark Lord is now available as a reissued classic.
In To Love a Dark Lord, I kept having to tone the hero down—my editors didn’t believe I could carry off such a thoroughly bad boy, so I tend to remember what it could have been with sorrow. But what it ended up being was still pretty entertaining, and my hero is dark, so lost, so enchanting.
Nightfall (1995) and Moonrise (1996) were two landmark books. Written after the deaths of Anne’s brother and nephew, they were very dark, the unnofficial start of her “men who kill and women who love them” phase. Extremely dark and extremely sexual the two books won many fans. Nightfall was the story of a man convicted of murdering his wife and children, out of prison on appeal arranged by a ego-centric author (think Norman Mailer) and the author’s daughter, who’s appalled, mesmerized, and totally destroyed by the hero.
In Moonrise, the hero was a former IRA assassin, now working for the CIA. The heroine is the daughter of his American mentor, a man he executed. They’re on the run for their lives, and they barely squeak out a happy ending. Update: Moonrise is now available as a reissued classic.
The two books Anne wrote for Silhouette Intimate Moments were special favorites, both of them RITA finalists. Now You See Him (1992) has been reprinted a number of times. The hero is a chameleon, the heroine is an innocent, and there are terrorists and crazy sisters and international adventure.
Break the Night (1993) was Anne’s take on Jack the Ripper for the beginning of the short-lived Silhouette Shadows line.
I pulled back on Break the Night, for the simple reason that I knew I couldn’t carry off my original thought. I wanted the hero to be the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, and be horrified by his past life, but there was no way I could make it work. Instead, he has visions of the murder scenes from 100 years ago and is afraid he was Saucy Jack himself. The heroine is reincarnated as well, and the same drama plays out all over again in LA, where the sky turned red when it rains.
Two more historicals for Zebra were Anne's special favorites. Lord of Danger (1997) was the story of a medieval alchemist and wizard, Simon of Navarre, and plain little Alys, who thought she knew a thing or two about alchemy and healing and found she knew absolutely nothing about sex and true love once she meets the mesmerizing wizard. Update: Lord of Danger is now available as a reissued classic.
And possibly her favorite historical of all was Lady Fortune (2000). Another medieval, it’s the story of the virginal widow of an old man and the supposedly half-mad court jester who spoke in rhymes, strips off his clothes and walks around naked and drives everyone crazy.
Into the Fire (2003) is a book that polarizes people. PW deemed it”troubling.” Another uber bad boy, this one runs a garage where he restores antique cars, and the heroine who knew him long ago comes looking for him, trying to find her dead cousin’s missing possessions. Something’s haunting the upper floors of the old garage building, and the hero doesn’t seem anywhere near ready to let the heroine escape.
Into the Fire hasn’t yet found its audience, but those who love it, REALLY love it. Me included.
Anne has a special gift when it comes to novellas. Two of them are particular standouts. In the first Silhouette Shadows collection (1992) she wrote Monsters. The hero is an Alan Rickman-esque British horror film actor, the set up and pay off incredibly intense, and the sex on a deserted stage when he (and then she) is covered with red greasepaint is quite definitely inspiring.
In 1993, in an Avon collection called To Love and Honor, she wrote The High Sherriff of Huntington. Still on her Alan Rickman kick, and she felt he was such a delightfully wicked man in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that she snatched that character and gave him a nun for an unwilling bride. He never reforms, of course (he never would) but his wife manages to keep him reasonably well-behaved for the rest of their very long lives. Update: The High Sherriff of Huntington is now available as a reissued classic.
Other favorite out of print books: Barrett’s Hill, Cameron’s Landing, the Maggie Bennetts, Housebound, Heat Lightening, Angels Wings, Ritual Sins, Shadow Lover, Shadows at Sunset, The Widow, Glass Houses, Night and Day (with Gayle Wilson), and the novellas in One Night with a Rogue, Summer of Love, and Her Secret Admirer. Update: Ritual Sins is now available as a reissued classic.
I love all my work (well, maybe there are a few that could happily disappear forever, like Demonwood or Lazarus Rising) but mainly I just love my books. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t write.