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My first book, Deadly Feast, was inspired by a dream in which someone died laughing. I wondered if such a thing were possible, and after research which led me to the world authority on a disease endemic at the time to the Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea, I discovered that it was. The book took three years to research and write, but its publication by Robert Hale in 1976 launched my writing career.
At a difficult time in my life, finding great comfort and escapism in reading Harlequin romances, I thought I’d try my luck at writing one. After reading fifty to ensure I understood the requirements of this popular and demanding market, I wrote Desert Flower. To say I was thrilled when it was accepted is an understatement! So began my adventures writing as Dana James. And such adventures they were! My heroines helped invent a vaccine for malaria in Papua New Guinea, operated a clinic for indigenous people in the Andean Highlands of Ecuador, sailed on the clinic boats to outlying settlements in Hong Kong harbour. By this time my stories were becoming known, and I was moved from Medical Romances to the Contemporary list where I wrote a further nine. In these I explored such professions as diving for lost pirate treasure ( The Marati Legacy) Opal mining in Mexico (The Eagle and The Sun) glass sculpture (Heart of Glass) Port Development in Gibraltar (Tarik’s Mountain) Restoration of a country estate (Pool of Dreaming) Diplomacy and spying on an island I invented in the Caribbean (Love’s Ransom) Wildlife photography and a glacier burst in Iceland (Snowfire) Earthquake prediction in Turkey – my heroine was a helicopter pilot (Dark Moon Rising) Property development in an unspoilt Cornish cove (A Tempting Shore) and finally yacht delivery and drug smuggling in the Greek Islands (Bay of Rainbows)
Published in 22 countries and 19 languages, sales in the US alone topped ten million. I had loved writing them, and had learned so much while doing it. But I wanted to write longer books with more characters. So I turned to historical romantic fiction under the name Jane Jackson.
A Place of Birds was set in Cornwall and Shanghai. It follows Susanna Elliot who, to escape her repressive Quaker family, joins her two missionary cousins on their voyage to China. After traumatic events culminating in the death of one cousin during an attack on the mission, she finds lasting happiness with Lowell Hawke, a notorious schooner captain whose daring exploits have made him a legend along the Chinese coast.
Next came The Iron Road based on the building of a railway line in 1860’s Cornwall: a cross-cultural love story that contrasted the lives of those who constructed the line – the engineers, the navvies and their women – with the owner of the land the line would cross, and the railway company whose members put profit before safety.
Eye of the Wind, shortlisted for the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2002 was set during the Napoleonic Wars. It links the betrayal of Lord Roland Stratton while on a secret mission in France and his return to Cornwall a fugitive in disguise, with Melissa Tregonning’s desperate efforts to keep the family-owned boatyard running and pay off debts while protecting her father’s reputation.
Dangerous Waters reached the top 20 out of 197 entries for the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2007. Herbalist and midwife Phoebe Dymond boards a packet ship bound for Jamaica and an arranged marriage. The ship is attacked by privateers and, after frequent clashes over wound treatment with ship’s surgeon Jowan Crossley, she arrives to find Kingston in the grip of a slave revolt, and far worse awaiting her on the plantation.
Tide of Fortune explored another role of packet ships: carrying ransom money needed to release the wives and daughters of merchant ship owners captured by pirates off the coast of Algeria. Estranged from her family, Kerenza Vyvyan wasn’t with them when they went missing on a trading voyage in the Mediterranean. Now her father needs her to sail with him to Tangier aboard the packet ship Kestrel, commanded by Nicholas Penrose, the man who broke her heart. Dangers survived on the voyage bring Kerenza and Nick closer. But what happens in Tangier risks parting them forever.
For The Chain Garden I moved the story to 1902 and wrote a family saga set on a Cornish estate that explored plant hunting in the Himalayas, the early days of photography, the terrible toll from lung disease in Cornish tin mines, mission work in India, and the shattering impact of long-buried secrets finally exposed.
Devil’s Prize was my first of my Cornwall-based stories to involve smuggling. It features Devlin ‘Devil’ Varcoe, the two women who love him, the brother who plots his murder, and the twist of fate that sees him undertaking a secret mission for the foreign office. He’s successful, but on his way home a once-in-a-lifetime storm faces Devlin with a terrible choice.
In Bonded Heart I explore the work and responsibilities of local justice Branoc Casvellan who has to deal with corruption among his colleagues as well as those driven to stealing by abject poverty. Desperate for money to pay off her mother’s debts and keep a roof over heads, Roz Trevaskis is blackmailed into helping local smugglers. An honest man with a complicated past, Casvellan is taken unawares when he falls in love with Roz as she nurses his brother through smallpox. How will he – and his family – react when the truth about Roz’s past comes out
Two miles from my home is granite country. From the late C18th quarries stretched for several miles between Penryn to Longdowns, and two are still operating. Granite was one of the main exports from the port of Penryn, and Cornish granite was used in building of the Houses of Parliament.
In Heart of Stone – shortlisted for the Historical novel Prize, RNA’s Pure Passion Awards 2011 – Sarah Govier relies on income from Talvan quarry to support herself and her illegitimate son. James Crago – horrifically scarred while a soldier in India – lives as a recluse on land adjoining hers where he manufactures explosives. Both are outcasts: rejected by society, emotionally bruised and deeply wary. As they fight the plots against them, will they be able to overcome the past and find the courage to love again?
Taken to Heart features Jenefer Trevanion, who appeared in Devil’s Prize, and demanded her own story! Deceived by her father and her fiance, she values honesty above everything. After a devastating fire, Jenefer appals the local well-to-do families by supporting herself book-keeping for local businesses and acting as agent for the Guernsey merchants who supply local smugglers. Charles Polgray, her father’s heir, plans to extend the harbour providing much needed work and increasing trade. Working together deepens the powerful attraction between them. But can he resolve the secret in his past before it shatters her trust and their future?
Crosscurrents In 1830’s Falmouth, Santo Innis is developing a revolutionary new engine backed by Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate. The unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter, turns Richard’s life upside down. Keen to prove his engine, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse. But when Bronnen Jewell arrives to brew the harvest beer she’s horrified, fearful of losing her job. As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear. (Shortlisted for the Winston Graham Historical Prize 2016)
The Consul’s Daughter (#1 in ‘The Captain’s Honour’ series.) Set in 1874, Caseley is the 21-year-old daughter of Teuder Bonython, successful shipyard owner and consul for Mexico. When he falls ill, Caseley takes responsibility for the shipyard, the consulate, and her father’s health, but must hide her talents in a world dominated by men. Not conventionally beautiful, Caseley has resigned herself to a life without love…until she meets Jago Barata, half-Spanish captain of a Bonython ship. Jago is fearless, determined, a brilliant sailor – he’s also arrogant, unnaturally perceptive, and their every encounter sets them at each other’s throats. Just as she thinks Jago is out of her life for good, Caseley must deliver a letter to Spain on behalf of her father. It will be a journey filled with doubt, intrigue and danger – and the only ship leaving in time is Jago’s… (Shortlisted for the RoNA Historical Prize 2016)
The Master’s Wife (#2 in ‘The Captain’s Honour’ series) It is 1882. Now joint-owner of her late father’s shipyard, Caseley has drifted apart from her husband, Captain Jago Barata. Following the loss and heartbreak they have recently suffered, and unable to express their true feelings to one another, their marriage is at risk of collapse. When Jago is commissioned to undertake a voyage to turbulent Egypt on a mission of vital importance, Caseley, convinced she is about to lose him for good, risks everything to go with him. The dangers they face echo inner battles that leave both irrevocably changed. Can their marriage survive? And will they ever make it back to England?
Eye of the Wind, The Iron Road, A Place of Birds, Bonded Heart, Heart of Stone and Taken To Heart are also released as audiobooks, narrated by Patricia Gallimore. Available from ISIS (type in Jane Jackson to display details of all six audio books).
1978 Deadly Feast (mystery) as Jane Collier Robert Hale & Magna available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com [Large Print Editions]
As Dana James for Harlequin Mills & Boon:
1983 Desert Flower(Egypt)
1983 Doctor in New Guinea (Papua New Guinea)
1984 Doctor in the Andes (Ecuador) available from Amazon.com [Large Print]
1985 Rough Waters (Hong Kong)
1986 The Marati Legacy (Madagascar) available from Amazon.com
1987 The Eagle and the Sun (Mexico) available from Amazon.com
1987 Heart of Glass (Cornwall) available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com [Large Print Editions]
1988 Tarik’s Mountain (Gibraltar) available from Amazon.com
1988 Pool of Dreaming (Cornwall) available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com [Large Print Editions]
1989 Love’s Ransom (Caribbean) available from Amazon.co.uk [Large Print] and Amazon.com
1989 Snowfire (Iceland) available from Amazon.co.uk [Large Print] and Amazon.com
1990 Dark Moon Rising (Turkey) available from Amazon.com
1991 A Tempting Shore (Cornwall)
1993 Bay of Rainbows (Mediterranean)
2001/2 Heart of Glass, Pool of Dreaming, & Love’s Ransom were published by GK Hall/Chivers in Large Print, in The United States and the UK
2003 Snowfire published by Thorndike/Chivers in Large Print in the United States and the UK – Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk
2005 Doctor in the Andies published by Dales Large Print in the UK – Amazon.co.uk
2006 Rough Waters (Hong Kong and the China Seas) published by Thorndike/Chivers Large Print in the United States and the UK
2006 Doctor in New Guinea (Papua New Guinea) published by Dales Large Print in the UK – Amazon.co.uk
2006 Desert Flower (Egypt) published by Dales Large Print in the UK – Amazon.co.uk
2007Bay of Rainbows (Mediterranean) published by Chivers Large Print in the UK
2007 A Tempting Shore (Cornwall) published by Chivers Large Print in the UK.
The Marati Rising (Diving for treasure off Madagascar) published by Chivers Large Print in the UK
Dark Moon Rising (Earthquake in Turkish mountains) published by Chivers Large Print in the UK
Several of the above titles are available via Amazon.com Used Books, and Barnes & Noble’s Out of Print Book Service.
Longer historical romantic fiction (as Jane Jackson):
1997 A Place of Birds Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk [Large Print]
1999 The Iron Road Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk [Large Print] Now available as an ebook
2001 Eye of the Wind Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk (also available as an audiobook) Now available as an ebook
2004 Tide of Fortune Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk [Large Print edition available from Amazon.co.uk ] Now available as an ebook
2006 Dangerous Waters Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk [also available in Magna Large Print] Now available as an ebook
2006 The Chain Garden Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk [also available in Magna Large Print] Late September release as an ebook
2008 Devil’s Prize Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk.
2009 Bonded Heart Severn House – available from Amazon.co.uk (also available in Magna Large Print and as an audiobook)
2009 Heart of Stone Severn House – available from Amazon.co.uk (also available in Magna Large Print, and as an audiobook)
2011 Taken to Heart Robert Hale – available from Amazon.co.uk (also available as an audiobook) Ebook 30th September 2012.
2014 Crosscurrents Accent Press – available from Amazon.co.uk ebook and paperback.
2016 The Consul’s Daughter Accent Press – available from Amazon.co.uk as ebook and paperback.
2016 The Master’s Wife Accent Press – released 27th June 2016. Available from Amazon.co.uk as ebook.