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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


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Thanks for the recommendations. I am with Andrea; I have too much in my TBR pile!
To Andrea:
I love Louise Penny. I liked her first book, but as the series goes the characters become so rich. You can really see the progression of her writing. You will love the rest of the series (a new one coming out this year). I saw her when she came to town to promote the last book. She is a wonderful speaker, also. One of my favorites of the series is The Beautiful Mystery.

Mary T

I have been doing some re-reads this month and a few new reads that were on my kindle. The new reads were only so-so except for Mary Balogh's SOMEONE TO CARE. This book may not be the best in this series (IMO) but she never disappoints. I liked that the heroine is a more mature woman (early 40s ?) who is a even a grandmother. Ms. Balogh is so good at writing characters. I'm glad that she has added a few more mature heroes and heroines to her repertoire. Wouldn't want a steady diet of it, but it is refreshing now and them.

Teresa Broderick

I have a HUGE TBR pile and don't seem to be getting anywhere with it. I can't see that changing any time soon as having read Nicola's section above I immediately went to Amazon and purchased Heart of Stone. I LOVE historical stories set in Ireland. I've just finished reading The Darkling Bride and it was a fantastic read. I also added to my Amazon wish list Traitor's Knot and subscribed to the writers blog. Thanks Nicola!!!! I'll never get to my TBR at this rate:-)
A great post from everyone.


Very interesting and I too have a huge TBR pile I will never to the bottom of, Nicola I too loved Jenny Ashcroft's Island in the East fabulous story :)

What have I been reading The Paris Seamstress Natasha Lester a fabulous time slip I couldn't put this one down and Bloodtree River and awesome romantic suspense set in the Tasmanian mountains so many fabulous books never enough hours in the day :)

have Fun



I'm a huge Louise Penny fan, and I've been reading JAK in her various guises for many years. I confess that I have not yet read The Other Lady Vanishes, but it is on my Kindle. As usual, I've been reading lots if ARCs. Among those that I found particularly rewarding are Susan Wiggs's Between You and Me, a compelling, emotional Amish-modern world culture clash; Amy Doan Mason's debut novel, The Summer List, a richly layered double reunion tale that restores a female friendship and a romance as it unravels a couple of mystery threads; Manda Collins's One for the Rogue, the fourth Studies in Scandal book, in which a geologist heroine and a fossil-hunting hero work together to track down scientific-minded thieves; and Barbara O'Neal's The Art of Inheriting Secrets, a story that combines a woman's journey of self-discovery with mystery and romance, adds a setting that is practically a character, and tops it off with O'Neal's beautiful prose. My current romance read is not an ARC but one of the two AAR top ten that I had not read, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata. I'm enjoing it, although I seriously doubt that it will make my all-time top ten.

I've also been slowly reading Conversations on Writing by Ursala Le Guin and David Naimon. I found the discussion of genre especially interesting and mentally applauded Le Guin's assertion that "Judgement by genre is just wrong--stupid, wasteful." Another slow read is Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, a collection of poetry by Ross Gay. It was the title that captured me, but I am loving these long poems with their rare joy and discursive mindfulness. The title poem is one I know that I will reread often. I love the intimacy the poet creates with the reader in lines like these:
I can’t stop
my gratitude, which includes, dear reader,
you, for staying here with me,
for moving your lips just so as I speak.
Here is a cup of tea. I have spooned honey into it.

Teresa Broderick

Oh lovely Helen, I've just added the Paris Seamstress to my TBR:o!! Just as well I've decided to spend the Summer reading!!

Vicki L.

Oh ...groan.....my TBR mountain has now acquired 5 more books and not many people have added their reads for the month! So many wonderful sounding books with rave reviews this month

My books have been diverse...I went on a Janet Chapman re-read kick. Then I went on are-read kick of Robin D. Owen's Celta series after I read her newest book, Heart Sight (Vinni & Avellana finally become a "real" couple!). It has been interesting watching them grow through the series from very young children to mature adults. It is sci-fi fantasy .

From the library I got Amanda Quick's The Other Lady Vanishes. I like the new world but there were an awful lot of deaths in it! Maybe I need to check it out and read it again because it felt more adventure with just a dusting of romance.

Re-read Red Adam's Lady by Grace Ingram. Always enjoy that book. A medieval, forced marriage (no violence or disrespect towards women) where the h/H learn to be friends, like and then love each other. With a bit of invasion of the Galloway Scots. I hadn't read it in 5 years so it felt really fresh and new.

Anne McCaffrey - A Gift of Dragons. A book of 4 short stories/novellas about Pern. I hadn't read them so it was fun.

FDR's Funeral Train: A Betrayed widow, A Soviet Spy, and A Presidency in the Balance by Robert Klara. It was published in 2010 That was a truly fascinating book. I've always been fascinated by FDR so have read a number of books about him.

This book covers the very short climatic/traumatic time period of the train taking FDR's body from Warm Springs, GA Washington DC and then to Hyde Park, NY for burial. Eleanor Roosevelt was in one train car, FDR's body in another. In Washington President Truman joined the train (as well as most of the US Govt).

Because I've been to the Little White House (in Warm Springs GA) so many times, as well as Warm Springs and the surrounding area, it felt even more immediate and real.

When you read it and think about how everything was done by hand, telegraph and a little bit of telephoning it is astonishing. There were also very few people taking planes at that time either. They managed a huge undertaking with only a few minor snafus and no real guidelines since there had never been a president who died so far from Washington DC before.

As you can tell, I really liked that book (grin).

Also read more Western romances, other re-reads, a few mehs...


I'm another with a Mount TBR that is reaching epic proportions and that's not even counting the e-Mount version.

Read in May ~

— Andy Weir’s The Martian seemed like the perfect comfort read early in the month when I was sick. This was probably my fifth re-read and I enjoyed it yet again.
— The Thought Readers by Dima Zales which is currently free to Kindle readers. The premise was interesting, but I didn’t care overmuch for the lead character.
— First Touch: A Paranormal Suspense Story by Teyla Branton which is currently free to Kindle readers. I enjoyed it and would read on.
— Driven to Temptation: A Romantic Comedy by Melia Alexander; this was a fun read.
— The Omega’s Bodyguard by Dessa Lux. This had lots of adult content and too little story; I’d have preferred the reverse.
— the graphic novel Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs and Rik Hoskin. I’m not sorry to have read this, but it’s not what I’d call an uplifting story.
— the contemporary romance The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren which is the first book in a series that takes place twelve years after a high school shooting. I’ve read comments that critique the shooting scenario, but this did not seem in poor taste. I’ll happily read on in the series.
— the historical romance Summer Campaign by Carla Kelly.

– the portal fantasy Namesake by Kate Stradling; I suspect I’ll re-read this at some point.
– M.L. Buchman’s currently free Daniel’s Christmas (The Night Stalkers Book 3).
– quite enjoyed Keira Andrew’s historical male/male romance Semper Fi; I’ll definitely be revisiting this book.
– enjoyed the slightly futuristic male/male romance Evolved by N.R. Walker which features a man and an android.
– re-read with pleasure Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux; this is a male/male mystery romance and the first of a series.

— For my book group, The Alienist by Caleb Carr. The book was lengthy, interesting, and dismal since it dealt with a serial killer. It came across as incredibly well researched. It’s not a book that I see myself re-reading.
— Betsy James’ fantasy Roadsouls which was very different from the book above. This came to me via inter-library loan. I have absolutely no idea why I requested it, but I’m glad I did.
— a graphic novel that had me chuckling at times: Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen

— Elizabeth Moon’s Once A Hero which I quite enjoyed. According to Amazon, this falls into the category of military science fiction.
— Katharine Ashe’s historical romance The Prince: A Devil’s Duke Novel; this featured a prince in hiding and a young woman, in disguise, studying to be a surgeon. Both characters had issues (he was missing part of his leg, she had what I think we’d now describe as anxiety and OCD). It was an enjoyable read.
— re-read Lyn Gala’s Prelude to Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts; Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts; Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities; and Affiliations, Aliens, and Other Profitable Pursuits. These are male/male romances that feature an alien as one of the main characters. They are favorites.
— also re-read Cooper West’s male/male romances The Protector; Rescued: A “Parker’s Sanctuary” Story (this is currently free to Kindle readers); Parker’s Sanctuary; and Second Chances (a short).

Anne Gracie

Mary, I totally agree with you re Mary Balogh. I loved that she wrote this book — I so wanted a hero for her, because I think the disaster of her husband's bigamy was toughest on Viola. After years of being the Countess of Riverdale, and bearing three children, now adults, to have to go back to being called Miss Kingsley — just awful. Especially since it hadn't been a happy marriage. I loved Someone To Care — the whole series, in fact.

Anne Gracie

Janga, I'd read all but three of the AAR top ten and I'm currently reading Beard Science. How romance has changed. I remember when it was held to be author suicide to have a bearded hero, and if an author was reckless enough to have one, the publishers made sure the hero on the cover was clean-shaven.

As for the AAR top 10, I loved Lisa Kleypas's Devil In Winter, so it's nice to see it at the top. LOS and Flowers From the Storm have been in that top 10 for decades. Flowers From the Storm is still a huge fave of mine, and I'd squeeze it in above LOS .
For those who haven't seen the list it's here: https://allaboutromance.com/the-aar-top-ten-romances-with-a-new-number-one/



I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

have Fun


Sonya Heaney

Someone to Care is actually my favourite in the series. It is the most bittersweet, and there's so much emotion beneath the characters' façades.

I LOVED the older heroine.

Nicola Cornick

I can see I really need to get into the Louise Penny books, Cindy. Such great recommendations!

Nicola Cornick

Thanks, Teresa, I'm so glad you found it helpful to your TBR pile!!! I love historicals set in Ireland too and always snap them up because there never seem to be enough of them. This one is extra-intriguing as it's based on the author's own family history. And I loved the Cryssa Bazos book very much. Fabulous characters and a great story line.

Nicola Cornick

Hi Helen, I'm so glad you loved Island in the East too! It was one of those stories that was in my mind for so long after I finished it. Then I saw the words "time slip" in your comment and I've snapped that up too! I love the WWR!

Nicola Cornick

What a brilliant list. I've just added the Barbara O'Neal to my TBR pile.

Nicola Cornick

Another fabulous list, thank you, Vicki! The FDR book sounds absolutely fascinating. definitely one for my DH who loves books like that.

Nicola Cornick

Thank you, Kareni! You always have such an interesting and eclectic set of recommendations. I like the sound of the Katharine Ashe book - and I didn't realise that military science fiction was a category of its own now!


I can second several of the Wenches recommendations. I read "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" a few years ago, and Simonson's next book, "The Summer Before The War" is on my TBR list.
I also loved "My Lady Thief", and good news, Emily Larkin has another Baleful Godmother book coming out very soon!
I've read both of the JAK books set in the 1930's, it was good lightweight enjoyment.
I read "A Rogue of Her Own" by Grace Burrowes. I'm not always in the mood for her books, because the pace is leisurely and they are quite long, without a lot of action. But when you are in the mood for some lovely prose and subtle humor, they really hit the spot. This one was about a newlywed couple adjusting to their marriage, which I always enjoy.
But the real hit for me this month was "Scandal in the Night" by Elizabeth Essex. I've been intermittently reading her Reckless Brides series, and all of them are excellent, but this one really knocked me out, a 5-star read. The hero and heroine meet again in England after a separation of several years, and most of the book is told as flashbacks to their earlier meeting and relationship, which took place in India. But at the time the hero was a spy, and going under a different name. And when they meet again, the heroine is the one living under a false identity! Incredible storytelling. The Indian setting had shades of Mary Jo's Silk trilogy, and Meredith Duran, and the spy plot and double identities and complexity of the characters reminded me a bit of Joanna's books. Yes, it was that good!

Mary T

The only warning I would offer to someone reading any book in this series is to begin at the beginning because of the large number of characters involved. There is a helpful family tree at the beginning of each book, but it is so small on my kindle it was hard to read. If there was a way of enlarging it - I was never able to figure it out. However, if you go on Ms. Balogh's web site marybalogh.com and click on books, there is a very readable family tree in each book.


I love/hate this mostly column so much!! How frustrating that I'll have to wait for my copy of The Paris Seamstress, and my paper copy of Island in the East; they both sound like something I'll love. Hope they do an audio version of The Paris Seamstress. My Lady Thief sounds wonderful, too, so that's one more on the wish list. And thank you, Janga; my husband adores poetry (and reads it aloud to me at bedtime), so Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude went right into my basket. I discovered a new-to-me contemporary author this month: Lauren Layne. Her books are fun, engaging, and well-written, and I've zipped through several of them in audio. And amidst many not-particularly memorable quick reads, Jojo Moyes latest, Sill Me, was a poignant and well-done conclusion to the tale that began with Me Before You. Now back to my piles!

Annette N

To Mary T and Ms Gracie - Amen. I have loved other series by Ms Balogh, and this series has become one of my favorites. This book made me smile because neither the heroine nor hero expected anything and they got so very much.

Vicki L.

Well darn...I bet that title was in the used bookstore I went to yesterday! I saw several books by her but didn't pause and look! Guess I either need to go back or just put it on my paper wish list for "next time".

Patricia Rice

I'm trying just to skim through all these wonderful lists because I really don't need any more books on my plate! But I don't think I've tried Elizabeth Essex. I'm off to take a look.

Patricia Rice

Argh, I thought I was escaping with only one title but now I need to try Lauren Layne. I could use a dash of fun right now!

But Wench readers are so reliable, it's great to hear about new authors from them, so thank you!

Anne Gracie

Mary, yes, I did read the series from the beginning, and though I think you could read it as a stand-alone, it adds to your understanding of the development of the characters to read it from the beginning.

Anne Gracie

Annette, yes, it's a wonderful series and the premise is so very powerful. I love that it shows how it could totally ruin a family socially — and then each of these people work their way through the ruination and end up happier than they ever would have been.

Anne Gracie

I agree Sonya, it was wonderful to see this dignified middle-aged woman, who'd done the right thing her whole life and then had suffered terribly for her husband's dishonesty, try to snatch a few weeks for herself — and then get so much more than she bargained for.

Anne Gracie

Barbara O'Neal is an auto-buy for me, whether she's writing as Barbara O'Neal, Barbara Samuels or Ruth Wind. She's a wonderful writer.


Anne, I like Devil in Winter, but it is not even my favorite Kleypas. LOS is high on my top ten list, and I was sad to see it lose the #1 spot it had claimed for nearly two decades. I think Flowers from the Storm is a powerful, brilliant book, but I found it such a wrenching read that I have never reread the book in full--a rare thing for a rereader like me. FFTS certainly has a place in my top 100, but my top ten consists of books that I have reread again and again and again, that I turn to for comfort and to counteract book slumps.

Anne Gracie

Janga, I'd LOVE to see your personal top 10 list

Nicola Cornick

I'm so pleased there's going to be another Baleful Godmother book soon and in the meantime I've downloaded the other re-published M&B ones to keep me going!

Sarah Webber

I should stop reading this column. My TBR is already approaching 600. Sigh. I'm reading several Ilona Andrews books in different series. And the new Lucy Parker, of course.

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