This Plagiarism Scandal Has Rocked the World of Romance Novels

Brazilian writer now stands accused of stealing passages from dozens of other books.

Brazilian romance novelist Cristiane Serruya stands accused of plagiarizing as many as 40 different authors in her latest book, "Royal Love." (Photo: Amazon)
Brazilian romance novelist Cristiane Serruya stands accused of plagiarizing as many as 40 different authors in her latest book, "Royal Love." (Photo: Amazon)
By Reed Richardson / February 24, 2019 10:39 am

Romance novels are full of bodice-ripping tales of betrayal, where passion frequently overcomes better judgment. And it turns out, the real world of romance novel writing suffers from some of this same kind of duplicitousness and bad behavior as well.

That twist comes courtesy of a massive plagiarism scandal that has implicated Brazilian author Cristiane Surreya’s latest novel, Royal Love, in dozens of alleged instances of intellectual theft. The saga began last week, when romance novelist Courtney Milan went public with her accusation that Surreya’s book lifted passages from her 2012 novel, The Duchess War, and that she was seeking legal counsel to remedy it. Soon, other authors and romance fans began singling out more suspect parts of Royal Love, which ultimately spawned a #CopyPasteCris hashtag campaign on Twitter to help crowdsource additional victims of Surreya’s word theft.

Surrey initially denied any plagiarism, but soon switched tactics and blamed  any copied text on “ghostwriters” she claimed she had hired via the freelance taking service Fiverr to help her complete the book. She then subsequently pulled down her personal website and social media accounts and went silent.

Among the many potential victims—the latest online count of purloined books was up to 40—was romance writing legend Nora Roberts, who posted her own scathing reply in a blog post on Friday.

“So this plagiarist lifted lines, bits, chunks big and small, from a slew of authors and books, mashed them together then hired ghosts off a cheap labor site to cobble them into a book,” Roberts wrote. “I do not, never have, never will comprehend how someone can feel any pride claiming a book they didn’t write.”

 

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