Then this weekend I was going through my blog statistics and saw that someone had come across my blog while searching for McLeay's obituary. Not a good sign. After doing some investigating via Google and then in my library's LexisNexis database, I was able to confirm that she had, in fact, died... back in March 1998, the same month that the paperback of her final novel was scheduled to be published. Per her obituary in The Scotsman, she was only 48 and left behind her husband and a 12-year-old son.
To quote a brief excerpt:
It was not until the publication of her first novel, The Wayward Tide, in 1990, that McLeay became a formidable player in the literary market for historical romance ... The book became an instant best-seller, and was labelled "the most stunning fiction debut in years" by Publishers Weekly in America, where the first print run reached an astonishing 100,000 copies. The Wayward Tide was published in ten different languages. The sea, travel and the lure of distant lands played a central role in her tales of love and life.Despite the journalist's words, her novels aren't romances by the usual definition, so if you expect a standard romance plotline -- like one PaperbackSwap reviewer did -- you may be quite surprised by all of the twists and turns it takes.
It's sad that her life was cut so tragically short. By the time I first discovered and devoured all five of her novels, she had already passed away. Has anyone else read her work? If not, and if you enjoy reading detailed romantic epics that sweep you away to another place and time, consider giving them a try. All are out of print but available used on Amazon and PaperbackSwap.