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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

In Memoriam

  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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June 2023

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Wenches Statistics

  • Years published: 164

    Novels published: 231

    Novellas published: 74

    Range of story dates: nine centuries (1026-present)

    Awards Won:

    • RWA RITA

    • RWA Honor Roll

    • RWA Top 10 Favorite

    • RT Lifetime Achievement

    • RT Living Legend

    • RT Reviewers Choice

    • Publishers Weekly Starred Reviews

    • Golden Leaf

    • Barclay Gold

    • ABA Notable Book

    • Historical Novels Review Editors Choice

    • AAR Best Romance

    • Smart Bitches Top 10

    Kirkus Reviews Top 21

    Library Journal Top 5

    Publishers Weekly Top 5

    Booklist Top 10

    • Booktopia Top 10

    • Golden Apple Award for Lifetime Achievement

    Bestseller Lists:

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    • Waldenbooks Mass Market

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    Chicago Tribune

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« Writing Tools: Bribery | Main | An Ode to Castles »


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Amazon plonked my copy on the doorstep this afternoon (along with the new Jane Ashford). "Marriage of convenience" is one of my favorite themes -- strangers who meet and have to learn to get along despite differences in background, personality, experiences and desires -- it's so universal and applies to so many situations besides marriages (though those are the most fun :). I wish some of our world's politicians read more MOC romances; it might help.

Mary M.

Decades ago, fresh out of college, my friend Carolyn spent a school year substitute teaching in inner-city Chicago. If there's a more challenging job than governessing privileged English children, substitute teaching anywhere has to be a contender. Subbing in mid-Chicago has to top it.

On Carolyn's first day in a tough middle school class, a girl complained that a boy had put tacks on her seat. Carolyn looked at the boy, who was big and swaggery, as middle-school boys can be. Carolyn was petite but more authoritative than the typical substitute teacher.

Without missing a beat, she put several confiscated tacks on the boy's chair, pointed, and said, "Sit!" He just smirked. She reached up, grabbed his shoulders, and yanked him down on the chair. Ouch.

Not a quelling look, but she didn't need one. The boy not only respected her after that (the whole class was in awe, in fact), he walked her safely to her car every afternoon. And the word went out not to mess with that car for the whole several months she taught at that school.

Anne Gracie

Janice, I think that's the fascination for me, too -- the need to get to know the other person and to do your best to make it work. Because it's for life.
And the art of compromise is just that -- an art.
Thanks for buying my book.

Anne Gracie

Great story, Mary. It's not size that counts, it's character and personality, and it sounds as though Carolyn has both.

I was at a party on the weekend and someone said that she envied her friend who was doing substitute teaching which the speaker thought would be easy and without responsibility. There were two other teachers in the group and she was speedily informed that it was a very difficult job and with huge responsibilities. :)


Anne, congrats on the new book ... loved the cover and delighted to see all of the heroines head.

I immediately checked Audible UK to see if an audio version was available. Disapointed there but was delighted to see the Chance Sister books are now available. I think I will start there (when more credits arrive!)

Enjoyed the interview ... great way to lern more about an author and her writing.

I did have a special teacher. My PE master was an ex-commando. He was highly respected by pupils - especially those with interests in sport. HE spent much time coaching in after-school activities and actually took me on his motor bike for a county cricket trial. When angry,the atmosphere bristled with electricity and silence reined!

Mary T

I went to a Catholic parochial and high school back in the 1950s and 60s. All of the nuns that taught me had "the look" that would quell. I thought it must be the first thing that they were taught in the convent (smile).

The book is on my kindle and I hope to get to start it today. We are in for another two days of rainy weather. Perfect time to get lost in a good book. I also think the cover is lovely!

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Quantum, yes, apparently my heroines have heads now. There is definitely an audio version of Marry In Haste, but I know that in the past it's taken a little time to arrange UK audio rights -- I hope that's sorted quickly.

The UK audio rights for the Chance sisters came about because UK readers (would-be listeners) wrote to me saying they hadn't been able to get the audio versions. I passed on the info to my editor and lo! My publisher arranged UK audio rights. So, fingers crossed it happens quickly for this new series.

I liked your story of your PE teacher. Some people have that ability to make the atmosphere crackle, don't they? And what fun to head off to the county cricket trial on his motor bike. You must have been a pretty good cricketer to be going to a county trial. My dad was a keen cricketer, so I grew up with cricket.

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Mary -- it is a pretty cover. I was lucky there. Covers have a significant effect on sales, sadly. The book of mine that has sold the worst also had the worst cover, and I don't think that was coincidental, as it got some very good reviews and was listed on several "best of the year" lists. But that cover killed sales.

Am chuckling at the thought of young nuns practicing The Look before they were given a class to teach. When I was a student teacher, I had a wonderful mentor, who sent a card to me at the school on my first grown-up teaching day (Feb 1st) saying "Remember, don't smile before Easter." And of course, I laughed, and went into my first-ever class smiling.

Cynthia Owens

Congrats on the new book, Anne!

I don't remember any of my teachers being able to quell at a glance, but there was an English teacher (always my favorite subject!) who continually quoted Shakespeare at us whe the class got a little rowdy. That's how I came to love The Bard's work. Later, I wrote a production of Macbeth into one of my own books!

Don't enter me into the contest. My daughter is picking up my copy of Marry in Haste at the bookstore today. It's a pure joy for a bookworm to have a child who will buy her books when she's too busy to get to the bookstore herself! :) And though I REALLY want to read it asap, I'm saving it until the end of the month. I'm flying to Ireland for a research/fun trip...and I HATE flying. But there's nothing like a good book to keep the nerves in check.

Anne Gracie

Teachers have such a wide range of tricks up their sleeves, but quoting The Bard to quell a rowdy class is a new one on me. What fun. And of course I'm now trying to think of suitable quotes, but it's late here and my brain is fried and all I can think of is "Out out, damned spot." I suspect it's time to knit up my rav'ld sleeve of care (ie hit the sack ) *g*

And oh, the envy of your research trip to Ireland. I'm desperate to travel again and soak up some of the settings for my books. It's been ages since I visited the UK and even longer since I went to Ireland. Thanks for buying my book. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Sue McCormick

I did have a favorite teacher, who always had good classroom discipline. I don't think she used the quell with a glance technique. She taught two generations of children in that elementary school, including my children. Both generations loved her.

But — favorite teacher? Its the family trade! My father's parents; their four children, my mother, her older sister (for a while), me (briefly), my sister, her husband, his mother, their older daughter,her husband, and most of the family friends!

My parents both were adept at "that look!" And my father had presence. He could stand in the doorway at bedtime (when we were romping instead of getting to sleep); just stand there and you thought of every thing you'd done wrong for a month.

Patricia Addison

My high school homeroom teacher had a look that could quell. She could give you that "you didn't really do/say that, did you?" and make you feel like the dumbest person ever. Loved the Chance sisters and I am pretty sure I know who the modiste is, and I look forward to seeing her again and finding out how her life has gone.


I can't wait to read your new book, Anne. I so very much enjoyed the Chance sisters! I still remember my third grade teacher, and for a memory to last that long, she had to be formidable! She could most definitely quell us all with a glance, but I remember her addressing us vocally as well, with a stern "Ladies and Germs!" We'd never get away with that now, but it was quite amusing (and apt, I thought!) at the time. Like the best of teachers, she always read aloud to us at the end of the day, and we got through many wonderful books in rapt silence.

Mary Jo Putney

Patricia--rest assured that her life is going well. *G*

Mary Jo Putney

Sue, teaching often does run in families! In mine, also, though not quite as much as in yours. Teaching is the great middle class professional, really. It helps to have presence like your father!

Mary Jo Putney

Margaret, I LOVED teachers that read out loud to us! I had some fine elementary teachers. It was out in the country so there weren't a lot of career options for women, so a lot of very smarted women went into teaching. Now there are so many more options, a plus since those who choose teaching must truly love it.

cheryl c.

I am a retired first grade teacher, so I like to think that I was the teacher who could quell with a glance when needed, but also give smiles and hugs in equal measure.

Michelle H

I literally prayed I would not get the teacher that I DID get in the sixth grade. Growing up in that grade school, we all were aware of her and she looked mean and well, just mean. But. She was absolutely by far and above the best teacher I ever had up to that point, and was in the top 3 thereafter. I honestly think having her as my teacher was the reason that I was able to deal with serious, solemn, intelligent, atypical people in my life after growing up and leaving school. Which I may never have learned otherwise. She was all of the above, but could she ever teach! I loved her. (And she was not mean.) There were others in my life that helped continue that lesson first learned with her. ;) God Bless her and all teachers.

Anne's new book/series sounds just wonderful and I'm really looking forward to reading it.


Anne, Marry in Haste is one of my favorite Anne Gracie books. I loved Emm and Cal, and I look forward to Lily's book.

When I was a student-teacher, I had a wonderful supervising teacher who looked like an Italian opera singer and had a rich contralto speaking voice to go with her appearance. The day I met her, she impressed me enormously by her classroom control. As she was talking to me, the class (Sophomore English) grew a bit noisy; she turned to them, and without raising her voice at all, said, "There will be no talking." Instantly, there was silence.

I wanted to be just like her, and for the first few weeks, I tried to be. I was miserable. When my college coordinator came to observe me teach, she spotted the problem right away. In our conference later, she said "You are trying to be Miss N and failing. Just be yourself, and you will be a better--and happier--teacher." I took her advice and had a terrific time for the remainder of the semester. I lacked Miss N's presence and voice, but I discovered that a sense of humor and a genuine appreciation of my students as individuals helped me effectively maintain order. Over thirty-seven years of teaching a variety of groups from seventh graders to teachers in in-service training, I had no problems maintaining order. Now, former students often express appreciation for my kindness and caring. I admit I prefer being remembered that way.

Mary Jo Putney

Cheryl, I'll bet you were exactly that kind of teacher! My mother also taught first and second graders. She was a better woman than I am!

Mary Jo Putney

Michelle H, in college I had an English teacher who had a scary reputation, as you describe. She turned out to be really good, and we got along just fine. The teacher you're describing sounds quite extraordinary.

Mary Jo Putney

Janga, that college coordinator clearly knew her job! A good teacher needs to maintain order before there's room for the kindness and caring, I think.


Oh, the teacher - yes! Mrs. Kelly, my high school Latin teacher. I was rubbish at Latin, especially the pop quiz translations where we had to read new material cold in front of all the other kids. I hated being put on the spot and envied the kids who could translate well at sight. I am sure she knew when I was faking it and guessing. But I have fond memories of her because she was a great teacher; she wasn't mean but she held students accountable for doing the work and that helped me learn some self discipline, so that I didn't have my face in a book all the time but actually studied. God bless her.

Teresa Broderick

OH Yes Anne I most certainly did have a teacher like that. He was my science teacher in Secondary School. I was terrified of him. Most of the school was to be honest but he was a brilliant teacher. His classes were so interesting. It's a pity I couldn't have enjoyed them more but I was always so afraid of doing or saying something wrong.
I love the pics of Bath. As I've boasted many times this last year I was there last September and LOVED it. I recognised your last picture. I actually walked past it!!!
Great post and interview Mary Jo.


Another version of the quelling look....Many years ago a substitute teacher was sent to a very rough school in New York. He was advised never to turn his back on the class if he wanted to get out safely. He walked in, assessed the class, then turned his back on them and very deliberately stripped off his jacket/tie/shirt/singlet. Then he flexed all his muscles and held the pose for a moment? Then he turned back to face them, dressed himself again, and asked, 'any questions?' There were none ... he was an ex Marine with impressive musculature and some equally impressive scars. The class was amazingly well behaved.

Anne Gracie

Sue, I come from the same sort of family -- 6 in the family, 5 of them teachers. The wild breakaway rebel became a librarian.*g* In Australia teachers are called "chalkies" -- because teachers use chalk. Though not any more. And my father had that presence, too. I used to see other kids run away from their parents when they'd done something wrong, and think they must be sooooo brave. Because running away from Dad? Unthinkable. It was this, too for us: "and you thought of every thing you'd done wrong for a month."

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Patricia, I remember being "quelled" by one of my university lecturers. He was of the old school kind of lecturer and very formal and proper. My friend beside me was surreptitiously eating her lunch and the lecturer thought it was me doing all the rustling and crunching. He stopped in mid-sentence and simply looked at me -- for what felt like ages. I was mortified. My friend thought it was hilarious.

Anne Gracie

Thank you so much, Margaret. Oh, that time when teachers read stories aloud -- wasn't that magical? I hope teachers still do that.

Kathy K

And if "the look" didn't do the trick, there was always the "ruler across the palm" approach.

Anne Gracie

Cheryl, that's the secret, I think -- to balance the quelling glance with smiles and hugs -- each when deserved. I used to get a lot of student teachers and they were so often afraid to be strict -- they wanted the kids to like them. It took them a while to learn that kids like knowing the limits, and feel happier and more secure in a well run classroom.

Anne Gracie

Lovely story, Michelle. She sounds like an excellent teacher. I know a few teachers who had reputations as martinets, but who were, underneath, funny and clever and warm. Funny how good discipline is often seen as meanness.

Anne Gracie

Thanks for that lovely comment about Marry In Haste, Janga. I'm so pleased you liked it. As for teaching, I think I'm a similar kind of teacher -- not the quell-with-a-glance type, but humor and respect and caring about the students. I think understanding your personality and developing your teaching style is much like finding your voice in writing -- I've seen people fail to control a class precisely because they've adopted a style that isn't them and isn't convincing. I don't think they teach that in teacher training courses.

Anne Gracie

Isn't it a shame that we so often lose track of teachers who we appreciated more in retrospect? There's one in particular of mine who made a huge difference in my life, and of course I have tried to find her (mainly by googling) without success. And I've used the surname of my infant school teacher several times in books, as a small private acknowledgment.

Anne Gracie

Isn't Bath a wonderful place, Teresa? It's been ages since I've been to the Uk and even though I've been to Bath several times, I want to walk those streets again.

We had a teacher like that at a school I was in for a couple of years --we moved a lot. He was regarded as scary, and he mostly taught the senior classes. he took us for an extra once, and he strode in, glaring, and the whole class shivered. Except me. I recognized it as a pose, and I laughed -- not being smart or naughty -- just couldn't help it. He was such a good ogre. Anyway, he winked at me, and continued being scary.

Anne Gracie

Great story, Frances. I'm not sure he'd get away with that these days. But bluff is a big part of it. And a bit of mystery.


No teachers, but I've had a handful of managers that could freeze my brain functions just by looking my way. They were so intimidating even when they didn't mean to be!

Linda Herold

My fourth grade teacher Mrs. Woodrum was good at that. Many many years later, she asked me to call her Betty when I became the Resource Specialist in the district!

Anne Gracie

I can imagine that a watching manager could be quite intimidating, Julie.

Anne Gracie

And did you have trouble calling her Betty? I still think of my old teachers as Mrs or Miss and Mr. *g* I once met up in the UK with the mother of one of my oldest friends, and we travelled through part of England and Wales together (she was Welsh) and I called her Win, or Winnie then (at her request) but as soon as we met again back in Australia it was back to calling her Mrs S.

Mary T

You are right Kathy. Never felt the ruler myself though. The "look" by itself was sufficient to keep me in line (smile).


What an enjoyable interview! Congratulations, Anne, on the publication of Marry in Haste.

I had a teacher who could command a classroom. She was my English teacher for one year in Jamaica in the late seventies. The students rushed in the first day of class and were chatting when the bell rang and she walked in. She said, "Silence!" and everyone quieted. Then she said, "From now on, when you enter this classroom, you will enter quietly and stand by your desk. After I say, "Good morning, class" you will remain standing until I tell you you may be seated." We did as told. When the bell rang to signal the end of class, we all bolted only to be told, "Stop!" We were then given the appropriate directions as to how we would thereafter handle ourselves at the end of class. Mrs. Edwards ruled quietly from then on!

Mary Jo Putney

Wow, Kareni, she was GOOD! I've always thought that the ability to make a class of kids behave would be the hardest part of being a teacher, though I'm sure the many teachers here might disagree!

Vicki L.

I have lots of teachers in my family as well - all grade levels.

""I've always thought that the ability to make a class of kids behave would be the hardest part of being a teacher, though I'm sure the many teachers here might disagree!""
This comment is soooo true - it is the hardest part of being a teacher BUT once you've gained control and remain in control it makes the teaching part easier.

In HS - I had a sweet teacher...with no control. The kids took total advantage of her and she was a byword in our school. You said, oh I had Mrs. Whited and the eyes would roll, the uh huhs would sound. You didn't learn much in any class she ever taught.

On the other hand, Mrs. Dothard and Ms. Bradley, they were great. Firmly in control. They had the "teacher look" but they were also very nice, clever and funny. I learned tons from them.

Yep...my dad (a college professor) can still freeze each of his kids (and grandkids) with THAT LOOK. No running away, no backtalk, no going behind his back to Mama either.

Vicki L.

Oops...totally forgot to say I am SOOOO looking forward to reading this book. Sounds like loads of fun.

Anne Gracie

Thanks so much Kareni, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, and hope you also enjoy the book.

That description of your teacher in Jamaica was very evocative. I can imagine Mrs Edwards so easily. We had an occasional teacher called Miss McKenzie who was a bit like that, only she also made the girls curtsey and the boys bow as we chorused "Good morning Miss McKenzie." We thought her very old fashioned but we did it.

Anne Gracie

Vicki, I suspect that once "That Look" has been perfected it stands the owner in good stead for the rest of his/her life, not only in teaching or with kids. I think it works on anyone who's ever experienced (and succumbed to) it -- a kind of "do the right thing" look, and it still works. :)

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Vicki -- I hope you do enjoy it.

Anne Hardy

My high school algebra and chemistry teacher managed to quell me. I had a bad habit of reading or talking to a friend while still paying attention. He had a little game of changing the question very slightly while I was apparently doing something else and then asking me to answer it, to see if he could catch me out. When he finally did, in Grade 11 algebra, he simply said that not everyone could do two things at once and he'd appreciate it if I didn't set such a bad example. He and my English teacher told me a few years ago at a school reunion that my brothers and I were the only students they'd had who could truly do more than one thing at a time. My daughter is the same.

Anne Hardy

Like Vicki, I forgot to say that I'm looking forward to reading 'Marry in Haste'. I like marriage of convenience and also second chance romances, but with no TSTL characters or unnecessary 'big misunderstanding' that could be dealt with through simple communication.

Cat Kimbriel

I think it's time I check out Anne Gracie's work. Thank you for this lovely and informative interview!

Mary Jo Putney

Anne, that's an interesting and unusual genetic bonus! I like that the teacher recognized it and just asked you not to set a bad example. *G*

Mary Jo Putney

Anne Hardy--Anne Gracie does NOT do TSTL! Luckily. *G*

Mary Jo Putney

Cat Kimbriel, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. This book would be a good place to start with Anne Gracie, or the first book of her Chance Sisters quartet, THE AUTUMN BRIDE, which is lovely as four young women become sisters by chance and choice.

Anne Gracie

Yes, I agree, Mary Jo -- that was an excellent way to handle it. And Anne, I bet a lot of people wished they could do the same. A friend of mine writes her books while watching TV and looking after 3 young kids and a husband. No way could I do that.

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Anne, I try not to rely on The Big Mis -- though there are times when misunderstandings do occur and pride gets in the way of communication. Not in this book, though.

Anne Gracie

Thanks, Mary Jo. :)

Quilt Lady

I love marriage of convenience stories and I can't wait to read this one. It sounds awesome.

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