When Nonfiction Informs Fiction: A Romance Novelist Gets Conned out of $17M
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
In the 1906 edition of The King's English, H.W. Fowler declared: "A thing is unique, or not unique; there are no degrees of uniqueness; nothing is ever something or rather unique, though many things are almost in some respects unique."
Let's chat about something unique, even bizarre, in the literary world. We will focus today on the author Jude Deveraux.
I know of her because I do enjoy reading fictional novels. A couple of years ago, she was even a staple for romance readers. You can find all her old paperbacks tattered with spine creases. What I didn't know is that a sinister and calculated con was worked on her during her most successfully financial years of her career.
Here are some books we currently have on sale by the author. She is an author that has published books since at least the 80's but her life was nowhere near the fairytales she portrayed in her books.
Funny enough, her career mirrors her own life. Ms. Devereaux began as a romance novelists. She filled her pages with lust, ambition, and always the happy-ever-after ( or happy for now) that romance readers come to expect.
But what most do not know, is that Ms. Deveraux's life, behind closed doors, was full of strife. For years, she tried to conceive and could not. She felt her life unfulfilled as so many women do when they long for children. Around this same time, the author met a woman by the name of Rose Marks. Rose Marks touted herself a psychic (not like the other phonies) and was actually running a very successful business at the time Rose met Ms. Deveraux. And ultimately, Rose found a tender weak spot specific to the author in order to prey on her for several years.
Rosa Marks promised that if Jude continued to pay her hefty fees (and at one point this totaled about one million dollars per year), Marks would be able to settle all her affairs and that she could guarantee that Jude would have the child she always wanted.
Miraculously, Jude gave birth to a son and this life event only solidified her trust in Rosa Marks. By this point, Rosa Marks had employed several family members to run the business and it is unknown how much the Marks' family was helping with concurrent scams.
Unfortunately, the story comes to a tragic end, when Ms. Deveraux's child was hit by a car while riding his bike. He was only 8-years-old at the time. This also contributed to Jude's downfall and extreme depression. And there is no denying that Jude had forked over more than $17 million dollars to the Marks' family.
Oddly enough, and the story is chock-full of interesting details and too much to recount at this time, the case eventually caught the attention of an astute Miami-Dade police officer, who was in the financial division. As the investigation wore on, the police department did indeed find multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy, and other malfeasance by the Marks' family and they were eventually arrested and dealt with in the only way they deserved, as criminals.
Jude Devereaux, though, is a writer through-and-through. She eventually continued to write stories but not surprising, her stories now involve an element of mystery, where she always includes someone who eventually meets their untimely demise.
From romance...to untimely demises...
If you're interested, and maybe if you want to read Ms. Devereux's bibliography in order to see how much her stories have changed over the years, you can head over to fantasticfiction.com.
It's a great website that includes an author's complete ouvre (collection of works), in the order they are published.
If you're interesting in reading more cons that have been perpetuated by women throughout history, I urge you to check out "Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Female Persuasion" by Tori Telfer.
As always, happy reading. It is my hope you all are staying well and safe. Until next time!