Theirs was no gentle love
Born of soft romance,
But a flaming passion
Which burned the bitter memories of time,
And set ablaze forever
The shadows of their lives.NO GENTLE LOVE
Warner Books’ Purple Prose Gothic Lady
An Old Romance Favorite
Back in the early to mid-1990s, when I was an avid reader of solely romances, Rebecca Brandewyne, along with Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey, were my automatic-must-buy historical romance authors.
What I loved about Rebecca Brandewyne’s older works was her total devotion to maintaining a certain style. As a result, her books were nothing if not grandiose.
On the back covers, Brandewyne would pose dressed as the heroines in the Howard Eastman-taken photo. At the beginning of each novel, there would be a cast of characters list and a poem. Broken up into several books or parts, her epic stories began with a prologue, sometimes with the couple already together, and ended with a happy epilogue. And let’s not forget the Elaine Duillo cover art, which was practically de rigeur for a romance diva.
The covers were so stunning Warner Books showed off the images on the inner back page of each book.
Rebecca Brandewyne Biography
Mary Rebecca Wadsworth was born in Tennessee in 1955, where she lived with her large family before moving to Kansas. Brandewyne attended Wichita State University and graduated cum laude with a BA honors degree in journalism and a minor in music and history. She went on to earn a master’s degree in communications.
Brandewyne has been married twice. Although both her marriages ended in divorce, her first marriage to musician Gary Brock resulted in one child, a son named Shane.
Sadly, there would be some acrimony between Brandewyne’s first ex-husband and her and her family. In 2006 a Wichita jury found AuthorHouse, a POD “vanity press” publisher, guilty of having published in November 2003 a book that was libelous against Brandewyne. It was called Paperback Poison: the Romance Writer and the Hit Man and written by Gary Brock with his new wife, Debbie Brock. The book’s lurid allegations would have little to no basis in reality, with the judge granting Brandewyne and her parents a hefty settlement.
Rebecca Brandewyne Historical Romances
It was back in happier days during the mid-1970s that Brandewyne had started to write a novel. It would eventually become her first official work, No Gentle Love, which she published at age 23 in 1980. At the time, Rebecca Brandewyne was the youngest person to pen a romance novel.
No Gentle Love capitalized on the bodice ripper style of the 1970s. Indeed, her first three romances are unapologetic bodice rippers, including continent-hopping, rape or attempted rape, extreme violence, and/or multiple sex partners.
Rose of Rapture, her fourth novel, was about love during the English Wars of the Roses and still old-school in style. Moving forward, however, Brandewyne’s books would have a more Gothic tone, be they set in the American West or in Regency or Victorian-era England.
1989’s secret-identity pirate romp, Desire in Disguise, was an exception to this, as it was a humorous deviation from her usual dark-themed works. Upon a Moon-Dark Moor and Across a Starlit Sea were the first two novels of her unfinished Highclyffe Hall trilogy. Unfortunately, the last book of the planned series, Beneath a Sun-Gold Sky, was never released.
Upon a Moon-Dark Moor would opt for (in my opinion) the horrible decision to use a step-back cover. Why did they want to hide that beautiful red dress Maggie Chandler wore? Wisely, the publishers rethought this design and returned to the previous style for a few more books.
Elaine Duillo’s daughter Melissa Duillo Gallo would create a rare non-Elaine cover for Brandewyne for Across the Starlit Sea. Gregg Gulbronson would illustrate Desperado. Swan Road, a Viking romance about Ragnar Lodbrok’s fictional bastard son, was released with a step-back cover, as was Brandewyne’s next and last novel for Warner Books, The Jacaranda Tree, released in 1995.
Beyond Historical Romance & Legacy
Brandewyne also wrote two science-fantasy romance novels for Pocket Books, Passion Moon Rising and Beyond the Starlit Frost. These books made up another uncompleted trilogy called The Chronicles of Tintagel.
After leaving Warner Books, Brandewyne turned her hand to writing contemporary, category, paranormal, and Gothic romances for Harlequin/Mira & Silhouette.
Some of the prestigious literary awards won by Brandewyne include the Classic Award, Golden Quill Award, Bronze Pen Award, Gold Certificate, Reviewer’s Choice Award, Reviewer’s Choice Certificate, Career Achievement Award, Novelist of the Year of Historical Romance, and more. Brandewyne has been labeled as one of the “Leading Ladies of Love.”
Where is Brandewyne Now?
Unfortunately, Ms. Brandewyne has disappeared from the romance genre entirely. In fact, I could find no information about her on the internet since the release of her last book in 2009 other than that she lives in Kansas with her son.
If any reader has any information regarding whatever happened to this amazing author, I’d love to know.