What Ever Happened to: Christi Phillips

Book The Rosetti LetterBook The Devlin Diary I recently received a letter from Sue, who was looking for an author whose books she loved: 

I am trying to find out what in the world happened to Christi Phillips, author of The Rosetti Letter and The Devlin Diary. I enjoyed these books and want to find out how everything works out for the current day heroine.

Last note on Amazon was that she was publishing the third book (set in France) in 2011.

I don't see a website for Ms. Phillips, though she has a Goodreads author page and an author portal at her publisher's website. The portal page has a screen shot of her website, but that URL (christi-phillips.com) now defaults to a host placeholder, or reroutes to JC Penney. Nothing says historical fiction like JC Penneys, right?

But y'all, get a load of the cover copy. This is The Rossetti Letter:

Claire Donovan always dreamed of visiting Venice, though not as a chaperone for a surly teenager. But she can't pass up this chance to complete her Ph.D. thesis on Alessandra Rossetti, a mysterious courtesan who wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council warning of a Spanish plot to overthrow the Venetian Republic in 1618. Claire views Alessandra as a heroine and harbors a secret hope that her findings will elevate Alessandra to a more prominent place in history. But an arrogant Cambridge professor is set to present a paper at a prestigious Venetian university denouncing Alessandra as a co-conspirator — a move that could destroy Claire's paper and career.

As Claire races to locate the documents that will reveal the courtesan's true motives, Alessandra's story comes to life with all the sensuality, political treachery, and violence of seventeenth-century Venice. Claire also falls under the city's spell. She is courted by a handsome Italian, matches wits with her academic adversary, bonds with her troubled young charge, and, amid the boundless beauty of Venice, recaptures the joy of living every moment….

And this is The Devlin Diary: 

London, 1672. The past twelve years have brought momentous changes: the restoration of the monarchy, a devastating plague and fire. Yet the city remains a teeming, thriving metropolis, energized by the lusty decadence of Charles II's court and burgeoning scientific inquiry. Although women enjoy greater freedom, they are not allowed to practice medicine, a restriction that physician Hannah Devlin evades by treating patients that most other doctors shun: the city's poor.

But Hannah has a special knowledge that Secretary of State Lord Arlington desperately needs. At the king's Machiavellian court, Hannah attracts the attention of two men, charming courtier Ralph Montagu and anatomist Dr. Edward Strathern, as well as the attention of the powerful College of Physicians, which views her work as criminal. When two influential courtiers are found brutally murdered, their bodies inscribed with arcane symbols, Hannah is drawn into a dangerous investigation by Dr. Strathern, who believes the murders conceal a far-reaching conspiracy that may include Hannah's late father and the king himself.

Cambridge, 2008. Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan's dream come true — until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam. The only key to the professor's unsolved murder is a seventeenth century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king's mistress. With help from the eclectic collections of Cambridge's renowned libraries, Claire and historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Devlin left behind, uncovering secrets of London's dark past and Cambridge's equally murky present, and discovering that events of three hundred years ago may still have consequences today….

I asked Sue what she liked about these two books, and she wrote: 

It has been several years since I read either so I am just going on my usually faulty memory but I recall that I really liked how Christi unfolded the historical mysteries through the research of the modern day character, Claire Donovan. 

She highlighted the importance and at times tediousness of research and study along with excitement of discovery. 

The romantic elements of the story were interesting, but I particularly liked the historical stories and locales.  In both cases the historical setting was Renaissance Europe.  A nice change from Regency England.  :-)  The historical female characters, although somewhat anachronistic, were strong and intelligent women who did whatever was necessary to find a satisfying resolution to their problems. 

The first two books teased at a romance between Claire and another researcher (sort of like in Lauren Willig's series) and the resolution of their story was expected in the third book along with another great historical mystery.

Oooh, those sound really good. No wonder Sue is hoping still for the next book.

Have you read these books? Any idea what happened to the next book in the series? 

Categorized:

Random Musings

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  1. 1
    FairyKat says:

    I bet this is yet another of those academic female writers—Linda Miles who wrote for Harlequin in the 1990s is another—who I am sure are noms de plume that they use while writing their thesis and maybe their post docs… and then they get a real job and they disappear.

    It’s a pity, because I love those novels so much! I’m off to hunt these down, they look like my Catnip!

  2. 2
    FD says:

    Oh, is that what happened to Linda Miles? A couple of hers are in my dik shelf (in paper, even!). Best take on brilliant, aggravating tycoons since Tony Stark imo.  Like Susan Napier except she mostly wrote for the Enchanted line.

  3. 3

    Huh, these do sound good! Oh DARN yet more things for Mount Read All the Books on my Goodreads account. ;)

  4. 4
    chacha1 says:

    Ever since Kate Ross, I fear the worst when an author disappears. 

    Can’t imagine why I haven’t read these before.  Wishlist.

  5. 5
    Sue says:

    Thanks for posting this Sarah! 

  6. 6
    Carol says:

    @chacha1

    Absolutely, I’m still bummed about Ross. Hope the facts are better this time. (To anyone who likes historical mysteries with various European settings Kate Ross’ sadly unfinished series is, nonetheless, very much worth reading—each book is a gem, beautifully written.)

  7. 7
    Pheebers says:

    I’m actually at the point where I’m reluctant to start a series without knowing it’s complete.  I’ve had a few major disappointments at the end of a series (Divergent, anyone?) and plot lines left hanging make me crazy.

  8. 8
    Susan says:

    I thought the Phillips books looked interesting so I took a peek at them on Amazon. . . and was totally gobsmacked by the prices of the ebooks, particularly that first one.  Worse still, I then saw that I already owned both of them.  I’m afraid to go back and check, but surely I didn’t pay those prices.  (Therapy.  I need therapy, people.)

    Totally agree about Ross.  Rereading her books is the definition of bittersweet.  They’re so good, and the fourth was, IMO, the best by far.  The “what if” literally makes my heart hurt.

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