Penny Jordan, a British romance novelist whose tales of beguiling women falling breathlessly in love with handsome sheiks, Sicilian billionaires and Russian oligarchs sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, died Dec. 31 at a hospital in Cheshire, England. She was 65.

She had cancer, said Jenny Haddon, treasurer of the Romantic Novelists' Association.

Before her paperback books became irresistible fare for readers in more than 100 countries, Jordan worked as a secretary in a community bank. In the late 1970s, she entered a romance writing contest. She lost but was soon discovered by an agent seeking fresh talent.

Beginning with "Falcon's Prey," published in 1981, Jordan, whose real name was Penny Halsall, wrote more than 200 books that were translated into dozens of languages. At times, she was so prolific that she churned out a new novel every two months, including "Captive at the Sicilian Billionaire's Command," "A Stormy Spanish Summer" and "One Night With the Sheikh."

She was a "brilliant storyteller," Haddon wrote in an email to The Washington Post.She was A typical heroine of Jordan's stories longed after statuesque men with impenetrable hearts and luxuriant hair. The women, though ravishing and strong-minded, typically had egos as fragile as hibiscus petals and yearned for the satisfaction that came with transforming a steely-eyed hero into a gentle yet passionate lover.

Cricket stadium coming down … Islanders preseason schedule … LI's disco history Credit: Newsday

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Cricket stadium coming down … Islanders preseason schedule … LI's disco history Credit: Newsday

Updated 11 minutes ago DWI sentencing ... Hempstead house fire ... Cricket stadium coming down ... LIRR crime rate

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