Elsie Lee – Romantic Suspense and Historical Fiction Author

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I’m a Devoted Fan of Elsie Lee

Elsie Lee is an author that I keep on my bookshelf to read over and over. I never seem to tire of her intelligent, witty heroines.

I discovered Elsie Lee back in the 1960s and 1970s, when romantic suspense novels were big sellers with Mary Stewart publishing titles like The Ivy Tree. The market was saturated with writers hoping to achieve a similar success. Few really stood out from the crowd.

Elsie Lee built up a loyal readership in the romantic suspense genre with titles like The Drifting Sands and Diplomatic Lover. She also published Regency romances (The Nabob’s Widow and A Prior Betrothal) that appealed to Georgette Heyer fans.

Elsie Lee lived from 1912 to 1987.

Elsie Lee’s Romantic Suspense Novels

 Barrow SinisterCheck Price on Amazon Clouds Over VellantiCheck Price on Amazon The Curse of Carranca APA Second RomanceCheck Price on Amazon Dark Moon, Lost LadyCheck Price on Amazon The Diplomatic LoverCheck Price on Amazon The Drifting SandsCheck Price on Amazon Mistress of Mount FairCheck Price on Amazon Sinister AbbeyCheck Price on Amazon

Comments from Elsie Lee Fans

All of Elsie Lee’s books are terrific. If you like Georgette Heyer, you’ll like Elsie Lee. Not all of her books are regency novels, but the’re all good. (Pauline “dilly41” on Amazon)

This is one of her Regency novels. Even here, her heroines are smarter-than-average and fun. Don’t miss any of her books. (Virginia Allain on Amazon)

I love Ms. Lee’s strong, women heroines and wish she had written many more books than she has. I have read most of her books anywhere from 4-5 times each and every time I re-read one I enjoy it as much as the first time I ever read it. (Phillip Stephens on Amazon)

Elsie Lee is very good at this young widow thing – although almost all of her stuff has met my taste. However, this one (Mistress of Mount Fair), Ivorstone Manor and Satan’s Coast are all rather alike and yet enough different to still be a very good read. If you like modern style gothics, this is great. If you don’t, too bad! (J. Sneed on Amazon)

I am an avid Elsie Lee fan and have and love all of her books, even have her very well written cookbooks. (comment by R.R. Anderson on Amazon)

Sample Cover of Elsie Lee’s Regency Romance

An Eligible Connection

Books Written Under Pseudonyms

Some Pseudonyms She Used

Elsie Lee, Elsie Cromwell, Ian Gordon, Elsie Lee Sheridan, Lee Sheridan, Norman Daniels

Elsie Cromwell was one of several pseudonyms used by Elsie Lee Sheridan. Some of the Cromwell titles were later re-published under Elsie Lee’s name.

Ivorstone Manor came out under Elsie Cromwell’s name.

Apparently she used pseudonyms for writing a variety of books (Lee Sheridan for cookbooks and Norman Daniels is another of her pseudonyms).

This link takes you to a writer’s forum, where several writers who knew Elsie Lee, tell about her pen names, her cat Golliwog and other details of her life. Be sure to go all the way down the page. (http://forums.srellim.org/showthread.php?t=4414)

I saw a comment on Amazon by Mary Murphy who said, “I’m a diehard Elsie Lee fan and was pretty sure I had them all (multiple copies at that) I corresponded with her over the years and met her once, quite the lady! She finally admitted to me that she wrote a couple of books, Too Many Men and Love Trap, under the name Ian Gordon. For their time they were soft porn. She wouldn’t admit to some others that folks had suggested over the years. I have multiple copies of a good many of her books but don’t know if there’s a market for them anymore.”

I appreciated Mary’s input and hunted down the two titles she mentioned. It turns out that Love Trap was republished as The Apartment once women’s lib became established. It wasn’t considered so scandalous then. Unfortunately the original, Love Trap, has slutty cover art with a nubile young woman barely covered by a towel. The cover description said, “One apartment… four girls…. and dozens of men! They used every lure in the book for bait.”

As for if there’s a market for her excess copies, there definitely is a following so the books are priced fairly high.

Book That Were Reissued with Different Titles

Satan’s Coast = Mystery Castle

Sinister Abbey = Romance on the Rhine

The Spy at the Villa Miranda = The Unhappy Parting

Love Trap (Ian Gordon) = The Apartment

Romantic Assignment = Barrow Sinister

Season of Evil (Jane Gordon) = Season of Evil (Elsie Lee)

Season of Evil = Two Hearts Apart

Violence in Italy = Clouds over Vellanti

The Second Romance = The Curse of Carranca

Elsie Cromwell Titles

 The Governess by Elsie CromwellCheck Price on Amazon Ivorstone Manor by Elsie CromwellCheck Price on Amazon

Elsie Lee’s Historical Romances

Regency Romances by Elsie Lee

Readers Compare Her to Georgette Heyer

 An Eligible ConnectionCheck Price on Amazon The Nabob’s WidowCheck Price on Amazon Second SeasonCheck Price on Amazon Silence is GoldenCheck Price on Amazon THE WICKED GUARDIANCheck Price on Amazon

My Sister Was an Avid Fan

“Written in the sixties, Elsie Lee’s books showcased smart, capable career girls who had it all until a bad love affair/marriage made everything fall apart. Most of the book would involve picking up the pieces and trying to build a new life. In the last chapter, despite being hit on the head, dropped off a cliff, shot in the arm, or being trapped in a chilly dungeon they could still unravel the most complicated international plot for Interpol or FBI in two paragraphs and resolve their new love life the next two paragraphs.” (Shannon Martin Hyle)

Still More Romantic Suspense from Elsie Lee

These Came Out in the 1960s and 1970s

 Satan’s Coast (Lancer Easy-Eye, 75-368)Check Price on Amazon ROOMMATES.Check Price on Amazon Mansion of Golden WindowsCheck Price on Amazon The Drifting SandsCheck Price on Amazon The Spy at the Villa MirandaCheck Price on Amazon

Ian Gordon: Another Pseudonym for Elsie Lee

Review of Too Many Men

I ordered a paperback copy of Too Many Men
by Ian Gordon to verify that this was another of Elsie Lee’s pen names. For now, there are a few copies at modest prices, but once Elsie’s fans find out that it is indeed by her, I expect the price to shoot up.

Lancer Domino published this in 1963 and they must have struggled with how to market it. It was the erotica of that time. Here’s the cover blurb: “They called her an alley-cat, but Gracia didn’t care… For her, there could never be TOO MANY MEN. An eye-opening novel of a truly wanton woman by Ian Gordon.”

On the back of the book, it says, “Men were a way of life. Every one was different, but Gracia could remember them all. They all had wives at home, but in New York, they were alone. They wanted to see the town, live it up… have fun. Gracia knew all the answers – where to go, what to do, how to satisfy them. And then she met the one who was really different…”

The cover art shows a nude girl crouched by a bed. She’s barely covered by wrap pulled across her midriff. Her glance is sultry.

I braced myself for what might be inside. Compared to current romances which can be pretty graphic in their bedroom exploits, the book would fit right in. Apparently Elsie Lee was a bit ahead of the times when she wrote this one.

If I were writing the cover blurb, it might read like this, “Divorced, career woman, Gracie is the go-to woman for showing a visiting businessman the New York nightlife. She enjoys their company, but isn’t ready to settle down. No man really challenges her intellect, until she meets Robin, a wealthy New York tycoon.”

“He sweeps her off her feet, but Gracie resists as she feels her independence slipping away under his smothering attention. Is he a stalker or is his love sincere? Can she trust him and be who she really is or will he try to make her over into the perfect trophy wife?”

The descriptions and repartee are definitely Elsie Lee, so this is one for fans to add to their collection.

In searching Amazon, I see more titles possibly by the same Ian Gordon or a different one. Guess we can’t know unless we sample them. The other titles are Burden of Guilt 1951, The Whip Hand also called Deep Is My Desire 1954, After Innocence, Harlem Is My Heaven or The Night Thorn 1952, Rebellious Flesh, Burden of Guilt 1953, and Weekend Wanton 1964.

Example of Ian Gordon Cover (Elsie Lee Pseudonym)

Short Reviews of Elsie Lee’s Fiction

Reviews by Virginia Allain

Dark Moon, Lost Lady
I love this book with the identity switch, crossed lovers, and well-maintained suspense. Elsie Lee just has a light way with her characters that hook me. They are fun, talented and always sound like someone you would enjoy meeting.
Great setting (German castle) and convoluted plot (kidnapping, Nazi uprising) that the heroine handles deftly. This is my very favorite of all her books.

Season of Evil
I just reread this one and returned it to my keeper shelf. As I thin down my bookshelf, I just can’t let go of Elsie Lee. In this one, Bianca Trael is devastated by her husband’s sudden change of heart. She’s blindsided by the divorce that destroys their previously blissful marriage. Retreating for solitude to her brother’s house, she tries to sort out the mystery. Who faked those photos of her with a lover? Why?

Sinister Abbey
Again this is an Elsie Lee heroine that connects the dots in a nefarious plot that everyone else overlooks. Danica may look like a wide-eyed art student, but her family background in art history and her knowledge of French uncovers a cache of World War II art and an art forgery scheme. Suspenseful and romantic.

The cover description “The first mistake Danica Hughes made was talking to the attractive stranger who sat beside her on the airplane jetting her to Europe. The second mistake was picking up his attache case by accident, and carrying it off with her to her hotel in Paris. The third mistake was opening it, and discovering its suspicious contents….And now Danica knew she could not afford another mistake. Caught in a whirlpool of violence and deception, torn between a magnetic American wheeler-dealer and a devastatingly charming French aristocrat, she fled through a labyrinth of terror in an ancient French abbey, and one false step would be fatal.”

Prices for Elsie Lee Paperbacks

On Amazon

The average paperback from the 1970s or 1980s shows up for resale on Amazon for a penny plus postage. Sometimes, you might see one for 99 cents.

Elsie Lee’s vintage paperbacks can be $10 and higher. In the case of a few titles, it is much higher at $50 to $100. Why is that, you might ask? I notice in some reviews on Amazon, the reader says they’ve read their copy so many times that it fell apart, so they had to replace it.

Many fans keep their copies so there’s a limited supply showing up for resale. This keeps the prices higher than usual for older paperback titles.


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4 Comments

  1. Nice selection of Elsie Lee books you have featured here – so many to pick from!

  2. Nothing better than a cup of coffee and a good Elsie Lee book.

  3. Gypzeerose

    Elsie Lee indeed sounds interesting, novels I would enjoy reading.

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Meet The Author

Virginia Allain

Virginia Allain, retired librarian, loves sharing information online. She's passionate about genealogy, gardening, golf, and self-publishing family history.

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