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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

Word Wenches Staff

Wench Staff Emeritae

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  • Want to read ALL the posts by a specific Wench? Just scroll down to the bottom of her post and click on her name!

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:

    • NY Times

    • Wall Street Journal

    • USA Today

    • Waldenbooks Mass Market

    • Barnes & Noble

    • Amazon.com

    • Chicago Tribune

    • Rocky Mountain News

    • Publishers Weekly


« Minor characters and their inspiration | Main | Musing on Mysteries—Interview Part Two »


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Patricia Franzino

I applaud heroines in any time period who must find the strength within themselves to go forward and have a life without feeling they must fall back on a relationship with a man to do so.

I would imagine it would be easier in today's world to navigate a life of your own as long as you live in a Western country. In the past, you were lucky to survive to an older age without disease and unsanitary conditions killing you let alone having the leisure to find a life you can feel good about.

Sue McCormick

I guess I say this fairly endlessly: If It's well-written, and I believe in the character, I don't much care about the circumstances.

We all must find our way. In modern times, most of us must earn our livings, So reading about heroines (or heroes) with that problem is a good read.

In the previous post about minor characters one of the responders mentioned Perry Perriam. Both he and his sister (of the Scandalous Countess) are of the haut ton. Each has true problems, compounded by parents who see their children only as pawns. These two stories are two of my favorites from Jo Beverley.

I think finding your way is one of the most important plot paths (tropes?) that gets written, whether the characters are conventional or not. (Should I also mention Anne Gracie's Chance sisters in this vein?)


I'll echo Sue -- I like it when it's well done. I also like it when the heroines have sense enough to build a family/community along the way. (Found family is kind of my catnip.)

Not to say I don't appreciate a heroine having to negotiate the trickiness of who to trust . . . and this does work so beautifully with mysteries. I love heroines discovering how to trust and that accepting help isn't a weakness.

Patricia Rice

Yes, in historicals, the challenge of giving the heroine a chance that we take for granted these days is fun for a writer. But all of us have different strengths we can call on, if we're forced to do so!

Patricia Rice

You are welcome to name any author at all, but you know you're talking about some of my favorites! We probably ought to make more of a connection between finding ourselves before we can find true love. Must think about that.

Patricia Rice

Thank you, yes! Found family fascinates me too. I'm not sure how other families create the close connections we like to pretend is universal. Most of us have to find our real families.

Andrea Penrose

Patricia, women have had special challenges in finding their own way. It's really only in very recent history that such a concept was really thinkable (Though many strong women did manage to forge a path of their own choosing. I'm in awe of the strength that must have taken.)

It's true that today we have much more leisure in which to contemplate the good life. Our forebeaers were more concerned with simply having enough to eat and a place to sleep!

Andrea Penrose

As always, such a thoughtful reply, Sue. Yes we all have to find a way in life. The books that resonate with me tend to be the one where characters go against the grain—which takes extra strength—to dare reach for their dreams. (And as Pat says, of course we cam mention author names here )

Andrea Penrose

Tempest, realizing that being part of a community/family is a strength, not a weakness is always an appeal trope to me. I really think it's so true.


I like to see a heroine fighting back against prejudice and finding her own way. Even today I think that 'equal pay for equal work' is still a strong goal for many women. Just finished the audio version of 'The Wicked Wickerly' and loved the way that rhu-Barbara, a country lass, flouted convention, fought against external pressure and married her indebted gambling Earl.

I also liked the way that Charlotte in 'Murder on Black Swan Lane' uses a nom de plume for publishing her satirical cartoons ... reminded me a little of Julia Quinn's Lady Whistledown.

Yes a feisty determined lass with unconventional attitudes is definitely a plus ... as long as she also has a sweet soft center!

Patricia Rice

Thank you, Quantum! We can't always come up with heroines who put down their feet and say "This is what I want," but it's fun when we can! And then coming up with that sweet center... wow, you don't ask much. ;)

Andrea Penrose

Ha! Hard exterior and soft interior! There must be a term in physics for this, Quantum!

I'm drawn to writing unconventional heroines who dare to challenge the rules in order to achieve what they want. Women do tend to have to push to do this.

So glad you enjoyed Charlotte.


Both books will be on my Kindle tomorrow. I look forward to reading them. I'm definitely in favor of meeting Malcolm-Ives descendants, and I've been eager for more Wrexford & Sloane since I finished the first book.

I want a strong heroine, but I think strength comes in many guises. Some of my favorite heroines are unconventional. I recently read an ARC of Katharine Ashe's The Prince, and I loved her heroine, a young woman who must disguise herself as a man in order to gain the knowledge she needs to become a surgeon. On the other hand, some of my favorites are more conventional. For example, Catherine Melbourne in Mary Jo's Shattered Rainbows is high on my list of all-time favorite heroines.

Anne Gracie

I also love unconventional heroines, as long as historical heroines don't behave in contemporary ways without consequences. Pat, I love the concept of a heroine discovering who she is, apart from the influences she was raised in, and coming to a new understanding of herself. I'm currently reading a fantasy novel in which the hero and heroine slowly come to realize that the "truths" and certainties they were raised with, are different in every society they encounter — and so they learn to think for themselves.
Andrea, I also love the concept of a heroine who was previously in the shadow of a husband, stepping out and making her own way in a difficult world.

Linda D Johns

I enjoy reading about a woman who does not want to be someone's lapdog. Even in this day and age women are not treated fairly most of the time. A real man is not afraid of women and enjoys being around smart women.

Annette N

I think that unconventional heroines are pretty realistic. In the real world, generally mature people do not fit into pigeon holes. I believe that happens as a person becomes an adult. Teenagers are more likely to dress alike, act alike and talk alike to fit in with the crowd.

After a certain period of time, adults look around, think that is too much work, and decide to be individuals.

It may be something as tiny as personal hobbies, the way a person dresses or simply what one reads for entertainment. But, if you look closely at someone, you can see that each of us is unique and wonderful in our own way.

Patricia Rice

Thanks, Janga! The Malcolm/Ives connection isn't obvious in the first book other than one offstage character, but it builds in the next books.

Mary Jo always writes heroines who have the strength to rise to the occasion, which is a wonderful trope. Normal, everyday women confronted with terrible dilemmas have to step out of their comfort zones.

Patricia Rice

Creating characters who learn to think for themselves sounds like a fascinating idea to build on! Not easy to write though.

Patricia Rice

giggling to myself here as I work out the current characters who both think of themselves as big and strong and capable of taking care of the entire planet if called upon. It's a push-pull situation for sure!

Patricia Rice

well said! Most kids are malleable but experience widens and hardens them in wonderful ways.

Maryellen Webber

I love reading historical heroines who have a strong sense of self. It drives me crazy when authors give them contemporary type situations or just deviate from the historical genre. (Hope this makes sense) I am looking forward to reading the new Wrexford and Sloane mysteries.

Andrea Penrose

Thanks so much, Janga!

So true on strength coming in different guises. We all have different ways of meeting challenges, some of which we don't even know we have until we're tested. I'm drawn to writing heroines who are willing to face—and conquer—their fears in order to achieve their goals.

Andrea Penrose

Anne, I think all of us Wenches write independent women, who fight to have their own identity and self-worth in life. I find it endlessly interesting to delve into how individuals do that. And I like that our books give than positive message to our readers .

Andrea Penrose

SO true, Linda! Alas, there is still a w lot of work to be done on that front!

Andrea Penrose

Teenagers are still unsure of who they are, so are afraid of being labeled "different." As we grow, we gain more confidence, or simply don't want to pretend to be other than who we are.

And when you're comfortable in your own skin, you're usually happier!

Andrea Penrose

You make absolute sense, Maryellen. I love historical heroines who have a sense of self, but also are true to their times. Their conflict and pushing of the boundaries has to be believable within the context of the society in which they lived. An author can play a bit with that, but it has to make sense.

Hope you enjoy the new Wrexford and Sloane release!


I like both conventional and unconventional heroines, and I'm happy to read about them in just about any genre save for horror. I've nothing profound to add to the discussion, but I enjoyed the post and comments.

Patricia Rice

Thank you! Were not looking for profound, just good readers!

Patricia Rice


Then I'm definitely in the right place!

Jenny Wilcox

I wholeheartedly support the idea of women finding their own way. We do not know how strong we are or of what we are capable until we are put into difficult circumstances. I will be reading both these books. Go for it, girls!

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