I won't even dignify this book with a single star.
After the 1990 RWA National Conference in San Francisco, I was riding to the airport in a taxi with fellow authors Connie Flynn and Patricia Potter. Ms. Potter mentioned that there had been some gossip going around the final hours of the conference regarding an accusation of plagiarism leveled at popular Zebra Books author Sylvie Sommerfield. Her latest book, Ms. Potter said, was rumored to contain verbatim passages from something called The Hepburn
. I literally gasped and said, "Oh my God, The Hepburn
by Jan Westcott is one of my favorite books of all time!"
Upon arriving at my destination, I headed for the nearest newstand and found a copy of Fires of Surrender
for sale. Long before I'd reached the baggage claim area, I found passages -- they begin on page 15 -- that echoed with painful familiarity. Once home, I retrieved my copy of The Hepburn
and began making notes. The next morning I called Romantic Times
and gave them the details over the phone, then mailed photocopies of numerous pages for comparison. And by numerous, I mean 20+ from various sections throughout the books.
Eventually Ms. Sommerfield made a variety of confessions, including that under deadline pressure and personal issues, she had hired an assistant who did the actual copying. I'm not sure now, 20+ years later, whether there really was an assistant or if Sommerfield, who has now gone to her ultimate reward, did the work herself and created a ghost of a ghost.
It was not merely that text passages were copied; the main plot was lifted virtually in toto
Supposedly, some kind of financial agreement was reached between Zebra/Kensington and Ms. Westcott, who outlived her infringer by more than a decade, but as far as I know, no details were made public.
I have copies of both books within arm's reach as I write this. If anyone wants to challenge this, I can scan and post representative pages.