Cristiane Serruya is a copyright infringer, a plagiarist, and an idiot.

If you know me, you know I do not make accusations lightly–especially accusations about plagiarism and copyright infringement. Earlier today, a fan sent me an email claiming that portions of my book that had been copied by another author. After investigation, I have concluded that Christiane Serruya has copied, word-for-word, multiple passages from my book The Duchess War.

There are more passages copied than what I list below, and history suggests that if you delve deeper into this book, and other books, there will be even more plagiarism. I have not listed all of the similarities because, quite frankly, it is stomach-churning to read what someone else has done to butcher a story that I wrote with my whole heart.

But the passages I will show you will be enough. They’re quite convincing.

The first five comparisons are lifted from the same 4 pages in my book, starting at Kindle Location 1885. They’re scattered throughout hers, but it’s all from the same scene in mine.

The Duchess War:

As always, she had not a single hair out of place. She dressed in what he supposed was the height of fashion, if he’d bothered to follow it. Her gown was a dark blue, the hems embroidered in a white-and-gold pattern two inches thick. Her waist was slim, but not too tightly laced; a shawl of black lace looped over her shoulders.

She had always seemed imposing, like some faraway castle tower looming on the horizon. Even when she’d visited him when he was a child, she had been distant.

Now, the two yards between them could have been a furlong. In the years since he’d gained his majority, they’d come to a comfortable accommodation. When they were both in town, they had dinner together—no more than once—and talked of nothing. Her charitable work, his work in Parliament. Everything they said at those meals, they might have found out about one another through the society pages. He had no expectations of her and she no longer disappointed him.

Royal Love, Kindle Location 3286:

As always, her hair was combed in a striking, fashionable stormy way around her face and she was dressed in what he supposed was the height of fashion—if he bothered to follow it. Her black leather suit emphasized her slim waist and fit body.

When he was a child, she had seemed imposing, like some faraway forbidden castle, looming over the horizon. When he came home for holidays, she had kept her distance and coldness. Every word they exchanged since Angus had been crowned king, had been polite, affable, and so unexceptionable. She might have read his school reports; he might have read about her in the tabloids. When he was a child, all he wanted was for her to notice him. Now, he had no more expectations of her. She could no longer disappoint him.

 

The Duchess War:

She had drawn herself up stiffly. Little blooms of pink touched her cheeks. No doubt she’d realized that once he married, she’d become the dowager Duchess of Clermont, and she was loath to give up her place in society to some chit who didn’t respect her as she wanted.

“No offense, Mama,” Robert drawled, “but I do not consider you an expert on marriage. Expertise, I think, would require you to actually stay in one.”

Her lips pinched together. “Insults.” She sniffed. “You become more like your father every day.

 

RL, Kindle Location 3315:

Little blooms of pink touched her cheeks and she drew herself up straighter.“It’ll be a disaster.”

A more honorable son would have taken mercy. But he’d long been without it where his mother was concerned. For all that the woman sitting before him was his mother, she was a stranger. “Well, it’s unfortunate for you then that she is already carrying.”

A shriek strangled itself in Catriona’s throat. “You become more like your father every day.

(Snarky aside: “A shriek strangled itself in Catriona’s throat”? No wonder you’re copying other authors, girl.)

The Duchess War:

Her nostrils flared; he almost thought she might stamp her foot and paw the ground, like an angry bull.

Royal Love, Kindle Location 5170:

Her nostrils flared; he almost thought she might stamp her foot and paw the ground, like the bull that had attacked Siobhan.

The Duchess War:

There was a reason they’d kept their conversations to inane niceties up until this point. There was no way to talk about anything else without bitterness. They had no common past to draw on, almost no shared acquaintances. His mother had spent more time visiting Sebastian’s mother—her husband’s sister—than she had lived in Robert’s household as a child.

And she’d chosen to do it. He might have forgiven her at one time. At one time, he would have forgiven her anything.

Royal Love, Kindle Location 5173:

There was a reason they’d kept their conversations to inane niceties up until this point. There was no way to talk about anything else without bitterness. They had no common past to draw on, almost no shared acquaintances. His mother had spent more time visiting her lovers and friends than she had stayed with him when, as a child, he came to spend the holidays in Lektenstaten. And she’d chosen to do it. He might have forgiven her at one time. At one time, he would have forgiven her anything.

The Duchess War:

Robert nearly sprang to his feet, his temper rising at that. But shouting had never got him anywhere. Slowly, he exhaled his anger, letting it flow from him until the serenity of ice returned.

“Ah,” he finally said. “Insults.”

Royal Love, Kindle Location 5185:

Angus nearly sprang to his feet, his temper rising at that. But shouting had never gotten him anywhere. Slowly, he exhaled his anger, letting it flow from him until the serenity of ice returned.

“Get out.”

Here are some things that are pretty blatantly outright copied:

The Duchess War, Kindle Location 3360

If you’re any good in bed, I might fall in love with you. If that is going to be anathema…”

“No,” he said swiftly. He looked away from her, and when he spoke again, there was a slight rasp to his words. “No. That would be perfectly…unobjectionable.”

From his words, she might have thought him uncaring. But that catch in his voice and the way he tilted his head toward her again, gave the lie to his indifference. He looked at her like a thirsty man gazing on an oasis, trying to decide if it were an illusion brought on by the heat.

It made a sudden, impossible sense of everything. He doesn’t want a loveless marriage. He’s just resigned himself to one.

Royal Love, Kindle Location 4062

She stared back, both fascinated and appalled. “And if I fall in love with you? Is it going to be anathema?”

“No,” he said swiftly, and looked away from her. There was a slight rasp to his words, when he faced her again. “No. That would be perfectly…unobjectionable.”

From his words, she might have thought him uncaring. But that catch in his voice and the way he tilted his head toward her again, gave the lie to his indifference. He looked at her like a thirsty man gazing on an oasis, trying to decide if it were an illusion brought on by the heat. It made a sudden, impossible sense of everything.

He doesn’t want a loveless marriage. He’s just resigned himself to one.

The Duchess War, Kindle Location p. 2321

Robert had always hoped for a family of his own—first imagining his father more caring than he was, then hoping that his mother would love him. When he’d realized how futile his daydreams were, his wants had shifted outward. It had started so subtly that he couldn’t pinpoint the moment.

He’d had daydreams in which he accompanied Oliver home during the summer holidays. He’d imagined spending entire days together, talking and playing and boxing and fishing and doing whatever it was that brothers did.

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall had to have been the most beautiful sight that he had seen. So utterly normal. They’d rushed forward, arms outstretched, and grabbed up Oliver. Who had scowled and made noises of complaint, the ungrateful wretch—noises like “Stop, Ma, not my hair,” and, “Don’t kiss me in front of the fellows!” All that fuss, just because they hadn’t seen him in a handful of months. Robert had watched from the other side of the room, a lump in his throat.

And then the moment had come. After the affectionate greetings had been given, Oliver had turned. “Mother,” he’d said, “Father, this is—”

Mr. Marshall’s voice was quiet, but it couldn’t soften the harshness of the blow. “You look like your father. Very like.” He paused. “So much like, I think, that when my wife saw you just now, she saw him.”

He had nodded in a haze of pain.

“Perhaps,” Mr. Marshall said gently, “this is not the best moment to perform introductions.”

“Yes,” he’d said. “Sir.”

And he’d understood that there would never be a moment for introductions. There would be no lazy family summers, no man-to-man talks, no gingerbread on plates for him.

Royal Love, Kindle Location 5206

Angus had always hoped for a family of his own—first imagining his father more caring than he was, then hoping his mother would love him.

When he’d realized how futile his daydreams were, his wants had shifted outward. It had started so subtly he couldn’t pinpoint the moment.

He’d had daydreams in whichLudwig was his brother, and he would accompany Ludwig home during the summer holidays. He’d imagined spending entire days together, talking and playing and boxing and fishing and doing whatever it was brothers did.

When Ludwig’s parents visited the school, and they did a lot, they’d rush forward, arms outstretched, and grab up Ludwig. And Angus would watch the ungrateful wretch scowl and complain, “Stop, Mama,” and, “Don’t kiss me in front of the fellows!”

All that fuss, just because they hadn’t seen him in a handful of weeks.

Angus could only stare dumbfounded from the other side of the room, a lump of sadness and jealousy in his throat, blocking him from asking to be taken with them for whatever they planned to do.

He understood there’d be no lazy family summers, no man-to-man talks, no special sweets for him.

Can I just talk about this for a second? Robert’s yearning for family–and specifically, to be a part of Oliver, his half brother’s, family–is a theme in The Duchess War that stretches across the entire series, up through the point in The Suffragette Scandal when Free ends up on his doorstep thinking that she’s imposing. It is something that meant a lot to me when writing it, and to have someone take this scene–the one where Robert feels he simply just doesn’t get to have anyone love him because of who his father was–and to have them rewrite it, while taking out the bones of what made the scene tick–it just makes me feel awful.

From The Duchess War, Kindle Location 3853

For one second, there wasn’t the slightest hint of amusement in his eyes. He looked so old, the tiny lines at the corner of his mouth gathering as his lips pinched together. And yet he also looked young—impossibly young, as if hissix-year-old self were still looking out from behind his eyes, watching his mother walk away.

“Maybe.” He looked away from her, and then looked back. That urbane amusement was back on his face now, but it looked lopsided on him—as if he were trying to wear a hat that didn’t quite fit.

He had to laugh at what had happened. If he didn’t laugh, he would cry. She couldn’t have understood it until just that moment—because at that moment, she knew that she had to laugh, too, or burst into tears on his behalf. He looked at her with such urgency that she could not bear to force the issue.

“Yes,” she said quietly, entwining her fingers with his. “I do see that, now. It is funny.”

Royal Love, Kindle Location 3239

“No?” For one second, there wasn’t the slightest hint of amusement in his eyes. He looked so old, the tiny lines at the corner of his mouth gathering as his lips pinched together. And yet he also looked young—impossibly young, as if his five-year-old self were still looking out from behind his eyes, watching his mother send him away.

He looked away from her, and then back. That urbane amusement was back on his face now, but it looked lopsided on him—as if he were trying to wear a hat that didn’t quite fit. “Maybe because you don’t know what freedom I had in the boarding school. The pranks I played.”

“Yes, sure. That might be it,” she agreed because she didn’t have the heart to say otherwise. It has to be a funny story to him.

A note on the set-up to this one: Royal Love mirrors The Duchess War in that, in both, hero is telling the heroine a story that he claims is funny but which is actually heartbreaking. A major difference is that the story in The Duchess War is actually a little funny, and a lot heartbreaking.

Okay, that’s all the comparison I can handle doing at this point.

Let me be frank: This sucks. It sucks that someone took my heart work for their own. I wrote the Duchess War in the midst of a massive depressive spell and I bled for every word that I put on the page. It was a hard book to write and it’s not yours to take. For someone to take that emotion and just…shove it into this nonsensical bullshit…it hurts.

It also sucks that this is going to take time I didn’t have away from everything that I’m doing.

But you know what? Cristiane Serruya has to be the biggest idiot out there. I’ve sold several hundred thousand copies of this book. I’ve given away several hundred thousand copies on top of that. Does she think that readers are never going to notice her blatant plagiarism?

And then there’s the fact that it’s me. Look, I’m not special in any other way and I don’t want to toot my own horn to much, but if I were an unethical plagiarist and I was looking to plagiarize a romance author, I would pick literally anyone except the one who clerked for the Supreme Court, taught intellectual property as a law professor, and doesn’t back down from a fight.

You follow me on Twitter, Cristiane. How stupid can you get?

 

So here’s the deal, Cristiane. This is what I expect:

  1. You will take down Royal Love immediately. Everywhere. I’ve looked through the book enough to know that you didn’t just copy my words, you copied scene structures and familial arrangements. I don’t think this book is salvageable. It contains too much of my own work for you to be able to claim it as your own. Take it down.
  2. You should make an accounting of exactly how much money you made on this book. It’s not yours, and you shouldn’t spend it.
  3. You’re going to write an apology. A real one. And you’re going to fess up to all your plagiarism–not just this. If you skip something, I guarantee people are going to find it. You post it to every social media that you have. You send it out in your newsletter. You put it on your Amazon page.
  4. In exchange for doing all of this, you get the satisfaction that you’re starting to do the right thing after a time period of great idiocy. Clear?

Here’s the deal, other authors:

We’re almost certainly going to find out that I’m not the only one she’s plagiarized. I’m not 100% certain exactly how to proceed, but I have this here copyright registration certificate in my hands, and it’s dated before her infringement.

If it turns out that you’re similarly situated, please let me know.

 

120 thoughts on “Cristiane Serruya is a copyright infringer, a plagiarist, and an idiot.

  1. I…just…oh, my God. It’s bad enough that she plagiarized. But she plagiarized, as you already said, a a law professor who clerked for the Supremes. That takes stupidity of a whole ‘nother level.

  2. This really sucks.

    I’m furious on your behalf and I hope this person takes the path you offered rather than trying to fight this. It’s certainly more generous than they deserve.

  3. I am so, so sorry this person has done this to you, and to your work. It sucks, and I hope you can get as much redress as it’s possible.

    Take her house. Take her for everything. God only know how many other people’s hard work she’s butchered, then put her name on, who may have lost more money that they could ever afford to lose, because this woman has absolute no ethics or moral compass.

  4. Wow. This is stunning. You must feel like she sucked part of your life from you. I felt that way when I was robbed of stuff I’d worked to earn, but to have someone steal words that come from inside you must feel even worse. I’m so sorry.

  5. And she’s an attorney herself according to her bio, so this is definitely not a case of “not knowing any better.”

    I’m so sorry this has happened to you and hope you can get it resolved very quickly.

  6. I was in a boxed set with Cristiane Serruya in 2017 which aimed for (and missed) the USAT list. I’m so, so shocked this has happened. Naively, I thought her high rate of publication was due to her work ethic.

    I want to make absolutely clear that I condemn plagiarism in any form, and I absolutely see this as plagiarism. To me, there can be no question that what you’ve posted is as blatant an example as you can get.

    I’m disassociating from Serruya immediately. She’s now unfollowed, unfriended and blocked on all my social media platforms, and I find myself in the sickening position of having to go check out her work to see if I recognize any of my own in there.

    I hope Amazon and other retailers give her the boot immediately, and that you get the recompense you’re owed for this horrible action against you, as well as against any other authors she may have victimized.

    Please note; the boxed set I was in with Serruya is long unpublished. I could have stayed quiet and pretended I didn’t know anything, but that’s not my way. I knew her, I respected her and I trusted her to an extent, and I’m not going to hide that. I believe when you find out you’re wrong, you stand up for what’s right, and here’s me standing up and saying I’ve been deceived in someone’s character and if you need any support from me, Courtney, you only have to ask and it’s yours.

  7. This is horribly offensive and maddening. I hope you are able to settle this and she is smart enough to fess up…

    WOW!

  8. Having had my work plagiarised in a business setting decades ago I know a little about what your feelimg. I hope you get justice. It’s not only unfair but also rude to steal someone else’s words and ideas.

  9. Good luck. This kind of theft is intolerable, and has, I believe, for too long been ignored by the courts. I offer my support as a reader.

  10. I am so sorry this happened to you. I am glad a fan was wise enough to notify you. I hope you are able to resolve this quickly and with relatively few headaches.

  11. Wow. I am so sorry this happened but glad that someone caught it and informed you. I will assume that you will address this with her. Good luck.

  12. Contact Amazon. If she has posted the book there through KDP, they will not only pull the book but I have been told they also pull her earnings from the book too. (someone I know went through a similar thing)

  13. A sentence or two might be accidental carryover (where you have read a great book a while back and when you are writing your brain sends up a sentence that sounds great and you actually think it was the muses) but this is damn near cut and paste for some paragraphs. WTF was she thinking???

  14. That’s crazy! Do people really think that others don’t notice. I love self-publishing and I think it has opened many doors for authors but this is one of the downsides of it. This author is claiming USAT and Amazon bestseller – I wonder how many other books were plagiarized. Her kindle book is down but unfortunately it’s impossible to get used print books and royalty-shared audio down. I’m so sorry this happened to you

  15. Thank you flagging this. I will avoid buying her books. There is only one Courtney Milan. You may be copied, but you’ve never been outdone.

  16. Such a personal violation. Please know that my prayers and wishes for your peace of mind are sincere. This thief should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  17. I’m speechless. Not because I don’t know plagiarism exists but because I know Cristine and I’m shocked she did this. I was asked to join a group of authors to try and make USAT. We were unsuccessful. Then we tried it again with many of the same authors joining in again. Serruya was one of the authors. That was my only interaction with her. I’m unfriending her as soon as I finish this. I’m sorry this happened to you.

  18. What a totally rotten thing to do. I hope she sits on a tack! Sending strength and comfort your way. I thought your blog response was spot on. She’s some kind of idiot to think her theft would never be discovered and fortunate you are being so evenhanded with her.

  19. Holy shit, this is AWFUL and every writer’s worst nightmare. I’m so sorry this is happening to you and will leave a review on her page as soon as I’m done here. Good luck and I hope she pays for this.

  20. My ex publisher pirated off my novels and plagarized my stories to write a 2018 release. I’m hoping I can get her book removed from Barnes and Noble. Then my ex publisher threatened my daughter. The lows people will go just to make a dollar is abhorrent.

  21. As a (no longer practicing) lawyer, I recognize those words “similarly situated”, and if I were the target of those words, I would be very, very nervous. Frankly, if she truly is a lawyer, she should also recognize those words and be super nervous.

  22. My heart goes out to you, Courtney. I experienced the same wholesale copyright infringement in 2012 when an author using the name Stephanie Morris copied my previously-published but out-of-print novel, LOGAN’S WAY, changed a few words, and then repackaged it as Too Close For Comfort.

    Fortunately, Harlequin was still the publisher of record for LOGAN’S WAY and they sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ms Morris’s publisher. The publisher quickly complied. Too Close For Comfort was taken down and a full accounting was made. Monies were sent to Harlequin, my agent, and myself. Alas, used copies of the plagiarized book still appear on Amazon.

    I would suggest hiring a literary attorney to write a cease-and-desist letter, and definitely contact Amazon and any other retailers about the situation.

  23. I’m sorry, Courtney. This sucks. It happened to me several years ago — a verbatim rendition of UNLAWFUL CONTACT with names changed. I am currently being plagiarized by some idiot in India, who changes the names of my I-Team characters to Indian names and changes the locations from Colorado to India and otherwise uses my words. I don’t know how to handle that.

    Also, I saw her post about using a ghostwriter. What the actual fuck? People really do that? Anyone who does can’t call herself an author, IMHO. She’s responsible for what she publishes under her name regardless of who wrote it.

  24. So awful! I couldn’t help going over to Amazon to look at her book….240 reviews!!! Apparently she emailed pages of this one out for free to hook people.

    The reviews are painfully ironic, given the plagiarism:

    “although well written, I felt it was missing something… but I’m not sure what it is missing…”

    “Recommended to those who like intelligent romance with an original plot, and characters with depth and personality.”

    “The writing is effortless and flowed easily.”

    I bet it was effortless. Anyhow, she hasn’t taken the book down yet.

  25. A thief is a thief is a thief.
    If she’s willing to do this, she’s willing to bend other rules and moral rights. I’m sorry for her that she feels she has to stoop this low to get published. What an unhappy person she must be on the inside.
    I feel worse for you. My car was broken into and my wallet was stolen out of a backpack. Not only was the wallet a gift from my husband, a guardian angel was taken and was one of the last gifts my mother gave me before dying. I will never get that back and they got a piece of my heart. As she did when she stole your words and emotions. I’m truly sorry this has happened.

  26. I have written and published 27 novels over the past 26 years, Courtney, and I have never encountered anything like this. I’m absolutely appalled at the theft of your intellectual property, your immeasurable creativity, and your hard work. This woman should never be allowed to publish again–and you should sue.

  27. This is utterly disgusting. I am so sorry that this happened and hope that you are able to shut this person down.

  28. I’m so, so sorry you have to go through this, but I have followed the whole thing on Twitter and can I just say I think you’re handling it like a total badass?

    While it’s terrible that people behave like this, it does cheer me up to see the writing community on social media banding together to make sure they don’t get away with it.

  29. I am so very sorry this has happened to you. There is no excuse for it and, apology or not, Ms. Serruya has just sunk her career, at least under this pen name.

  30. For anyone who has their hard work stolen, whether they are an author or an artist, an inventor or an engineer, I have the deepest sympathy. To create something is work, hard work! And you deserve to have your work respected and honored. And those who steal it need to be punished. Until action is taken and consequences are levied, until people learn that stealing IP is as evil as any other form of theft, this kind of heinous action will continually erode the rights of such as you. So kick ass.

  31. How can someone do something like that and think their going to get away with it??!!! I’m so sorry this is something your going to have to deal with. Now that she’s caught I pray she will do the right thing. Keeping you in my prayers.

  32. This is just horrible. My dream is to be a published author but WITH MY OWN WORDS!! Who would think to steal someone else’s hard work? Who would think they would ever get away with it, even if they did think to do it in the first place? It actually makes me sick to my stomach. Shame on them. Feel bad for you, Courtney, and anyone who has gone through this.

  33. I am so sorry. To think, you may never have known if it hadn’t been for an astute reader. We all know how hard it is to write a book, but it should be your own. Her copying is quite apparent. I have just now unfriended her on FB.

  34. After all of the time, effort and emotions you poured into your book it must feel as someone has stolen your child. My deepest sympathies.

    I hope she can be brought to understand the depth of her crime but people like are either so shallow they can’t empathize or so twisted that they won’t care.

    Your work is original and outstanding. I’ve enjoyed you books tremendously. Please don’t let this stop your writing.

  35. So many people subscribe to the thought that “I won’t get caught’…but they do. I’m so sorry that this is happened – I hope that this stops her and puts her on notice.

  36. I don’t think name calling is helpful. Even though I understand your anger and support your requests, “copyrght infringer” and “plagiarist” were more than enough to define this person. The “idiot” was unnecessary and might ultimately cause you problems, too bad when you could have kept the higher ground.

  37. It looks like she’s laying it at the doorstep of the ghost writer, but, by golly, I’d agree that a writer should write her own stuff. Not a romance reader personally, but I worked in book publishing on the design/production end. While I can see a famous person hiring a ghost writer, to the best of my knowledge, none of our regular authors ever used one. What on earth possesses any known writer to hire a ghost writer? Did I miss something? Is that a thing now?

  38. I am a ghostwriter who worked with the person in question in 2017 and early 2018 on 2 books. I do not work on Fiverr but was contacted by her personally. I think I can provide insight to whether the ghostwriter was to blame, as she contends. Her work, when given to me, was a number of mishmashed scenes that needed “expanding”, as she said. I took for granted that these were her own words, and embellished as she requested, as this is how I work–I often help authors who are “too close” to their own book to get it in shape for publication. Now I can see that it’s very possible those were plagiarized scenes that she was hoping a ghostwriter would change enough to make unrecognizable. I did cut off ties with her after she gave me a sob story about her daughter being sick and told me she couldn’t pay me for work already done. I did not work on the above book, but just knowing the way she works, it seems much more possible to me that she cobbled scenes together via other people’s published works and gave them to a ghostwriter to smooth over…. than for a ghostwriter to be entirely responsible for this. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions as I am truly disgusted by this kind of behavior.

Comments are closed.