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The Wenches

  • Mary Jo Putney

  • Patricia Rice

  • Susan Fraser King

  • Anne Gracie

  • Nicola Cornick

  • Andrea Penrose

  • Christina Courtenay

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  • Jo Beverley
    Word Wench 2006-2016

  • Edith Layton
    Word Wench 2006-2009

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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)

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Marianne McA

This month I read 'Wayward Son' by Rainbow Rowell. I had enjoyed 'Carry On'- which is the first book in the now-to-be-a-trilogy - very much. Carry On is related to her book Fangirl, in which the heroine writes a fanfiction of that name drawing from a fictional Harry Potter type series.

I wasn't entirely sure that the second book, where the characters have defeated their he-who-must-not-be-named and gone on a road trip to the US, would work - but she's a great writer, and really drew me in to the story.

Then 'The Orchid Throne' by Jeffe Kennedy - evil emperor is taking over magical kingdoms - hero fights back by fighting back, heroine fights back by appearing to submit. Oddly for a romance reader, I think my quibble about the book was that there was a little too much of the relationship, when I was quite invested in the politics of it all.

Off the back of that, I reread Bujold's Chalion books.

I also read the YA 'A Corner of White' by Jaclyn Moriarty - a boy in the Kingdom of Cello and a girl in Cambridge, England exchange letters. It took me a while to get into, but I ended up enjoying it and have ordered the second in the series.

Then the non-fiction 'Between Silk and Cyanide' by Leo Marks, about coding in WW2 - so well written, it was just a pleasure to read.

And finally 'My Sister the Serial Killer' by Oyinkan Braithwaite - again, just a pleasure to read - a Tardis of a book - takes no time to read, but there's so much in it.

Vicki L

This month was mostly a re-read month as at the beginning of the month I was working the library book sale for 7 days and then I got muddle headed with a cold. The brain was not accepting new material with the usual enthusiasm.

However before the brain tiredness and muddleness began I read Mary Jo's Once a Spy and enjoyed it greatly. Also reread Once a Rebel because I love that book. And the last third of Once a Scoundrel to refresh my memory about Suzanne.

The other new books I read were:
Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley. She has really become a comfort read. Enjoyed it as I usually do her books.
Hidden Secrets and Empty Nesters by Carolyn Brown. Both books are womens fiction with the usual 3 or 4 women having life changes going on. I enjoyed Empty Nesters very much.

If He's Wicked, If He's Sinful and If He's Dangerous by Hannah Howell. Set in 1780 England. Historical romance with a twist of paranormal that runs through 2 families. Intrigue, adventure, romance, strong family connections. Learning to trust in love. They can be read out of order but I think starting with the first one and working your way through is better.

My favorite re-reads this month were:
The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer. Love the snappy dialogue and love the push pull between H/h. Plus the small mystery in the book.

All 5 of the Hathaway Books by Lisa Kleypas. I just adore that whole family and their interactions as well as their individual romances. Though my favorite people are Amelia & Cam and Leo and Catherine(Marks).
Mine til Midnight, Seduce me at Sunrise, Married by Morning, Tempt Me at Twilight, Love in the Afternoon.

Shield's Lady - Jayne Anne Krentz. Again one of my favorites. I guess I would classify it as a paranormal fantasy romance adventure! Strong characters, lots of adventure and romance. She wrote 3 books like that. Sweet Starfire and Crystal Flame are the other two - both of which I dipped into during my muddled brain phase.

Luckily the muddled brain phase is over with and I'm looking forward to reading a couple of anticipated new books. Though I truly do love reading old favorites.


I so enjoy this monthly column and typically end up adding half a dozen books to my library or Amazon list.

Anne, this morning I received a newsletter from author sisters SK Dunstall (who wrote my favorite Linesman trilogy which I strongly recommend). You were mentioned as one of their recent favorite author finds.


Read since last time ~

— Ends, Means, Laws and an Angry Ship by Lyn Gala. This is a new book (the fifth) in an existing series, but it introduces new characters. I liked where the book ended; however, much of the book felt like an introduction for what comes next. Don’t get me wrong — I am certainly interested in what comes next. I do miss my favorite characters (Liam and Ondry) from the previous books.
— Clutch (Forbidden Desires Book 1) by Piper Scott which was a light male/male romance that I enjoyed.
— reread Earth Fathers Are Weird by Lyn Gala which I enjoyed once more. This is a human/alien romance.
— A Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg: How to Play the Game & Win by Elaine Sandberg. I’m a fairly new player, but I would say this is a good book for someone who wishes to learn to play National League Mah Jongg.
— the non-fiction The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg by Tom Sloper which clarified a few Mah-Jongg questions that I had and taught me some new things.

— Solitude: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller (Dimension Space Book One) by Dean M. Cole which proved to be an interesting read. Basically, something happens and there is a one man left on Earth and one woman left on the space station. This is first in a series that I might continue at some point. (If you have Amazon Prime, this book is in the Prime library.)
— the six story Forward collection which features stories by Blake Crouch, N. K. Jemisin, Veronica Roth, Amor Towles, Paul Tremblay, and Andy Weir. Each story ended with me going hmmm. I liked all of the stories to some extent, but my favorite (which had me going back to read the end, and even now I’m not convinced I quite know what happened) was Ark by Veronica Roth. Should you have Amazon Prime, these stories are all in the Prime library.
— I was fortunate to win an advanced readers’ copy of Nora Roberts’ forthcoming The Rise of Magicks: Chronicles of The One, Book 3. It proved to be a somewhat spooky read. I enjoyed the book, but I don’t think this is a series I’ll be quick to reread.

— Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is described as a short story, but I’d quibble with that description. It’s a story that is composed of letters by four people. It begins with a letter written by a woman who has just found love letters written to her husband by another woman; she writes to the husband of that woman. And the story goes from there. The time period is the seventies. I enjoyed it.
— Gateway to the Moon: A Novel by Mary Morris for my book group. It was rather ironic to finish this on Columbus Day as Columbus figures in the book and not in a positive light. While I’m happy to have read the book, I’ll caution that it contains rape, torture, and more rape and torture.
— Dark Matters (Class 5 Series Book 4) by Michelle Diener was released this month, and I promptly read and enjoyed it. This is a science fiction romance series that is best read in order.
— Bone Rider by J. Fally was a book that I quite enjoyed. It was loaned to me, but I believe I’ll be buying it to reread. It’s a male/male/alien romance with significant violence.
— the short work Monster Till Midnight: A Cross-Dimensional Love Story by E.J. Russell. It was a pleasant story.
— reread Bone Rider by J. Fally plus The Sentinel by Eden Winters both of which I enjoyed once again. Incidentally, The Sentinel is currently free for Kindle readers: http://www.amazon.com/Sentinel-Eden-Winters-ebook/dp/B00IB4YWX8/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?keywords=sentinel+Eden+winters&qid=1571889589&sr=8-2
— read Our Pet by S. M. Matthews which was a pleasant reverse harem story though it did end with a cliffhanger.
— read/looked at Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers by Becky Cooper which proved to be a quick read. I can imagine this book might be enjoyed by New Yorkers as well as those who like maps and/or art.
— And read another boatload of samples on my Kindle.

Nicola Cornick

Thanks for your suggestions, Marianne. What a great and interestigly mixed list. I have 'My Sister the Serial Killer' by Oyinkan Braithwaite on my list. Really looking forward to it after your recommendation.

Nicola Cornick

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better, Vicki. You've prompted me to pick up The Reluctant Widow again - one of my favourite re-reads. And I so agree about Trisha Ashley. She's always such a lovely read.

Nicola Cornick

Hi Kareni and thank you as ever for your recommendations! Like you, I end up with another half dozen books on my list after reading all the suggestions in the WWR. It's one of the things I love about the Wench reading and writing community!


Reading the second in the Joy Ellis Fens series. Or trying to. I have no idea why it's so hard for me to get started on them Almost halfway through, I don't want to put them down but starting them is...hard.

Karen H.

I am reading The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. It is about a "secret" men's book club where Gavin is shocked to learn that his "macho" friends read steamy Regency romances they refer as manuals to keep their marriages intact and their wives happy. They convince Gavin to read "Courting The Countess" and use it as an example to win back his wife, but he's not convinced.

Anne Gracie

A lot of books there that I also enjoy, Vicki. That Lisa Kleypas series is a fave of mine, and as for Trisha Ashley, I reread her 12 Days of Christmas every year. I also reread a couple of Jayne Ann Krentz books recently.

Anne Gracie

Oh, how lovely, Kareni — thanks for mentioning it.

Anne Gracie

Michelle Diener is a wonderful writer, isn't she, Kareni? I'm pretty sure I've mentioned her too, in this column.


In October I read a bunch more vintage regencies as usual. Right now I'm reading The Determined Bachelor by Judith Harkness, starring Sir Basil the Stiff-rumped and the vicar's eldest daughter; the prose is more in the mode of 19th century Jane Austen than 21st century Julia Quinn, and I find it relaxing.

Someone somewhere mentioned mysteries by Catherine Aird, so I have read Some Die Eloquent (set and written in the 1960s), which I liked; I will look for more by this author.

I just finished A Woman's War by S. (Simon) Block, the most recent entry in the book series (two so far, wonder if there will be more) that finishes the ITV series Home Fires which was not renewed (they said it was too expensive). The books aren't great novels, but they did tell me what transpired with those characters I had grown to care about.


So that's two new series to read (Penric and Sweep) at my local public library, two favorite authors (Dick Francis and Pern) to snag off my shelves... Not surprising all y'all leading me into more reading temptations and adventures!

Nicola Cornick

That sounds a lot of fun, Karen! I will definitely pick that one up.

Nicola Cornick

So much fun to be had during a WWR, Larisa. Glad your TBR list is growing!

Nicola Cornick

I'm glad you were able to discover what happened to the characters, Janice. I can be quite frustrating to be left hanging around wondering!

Nicola Cornick

It's very odd when that happens but I guess we've all had a similar experience. Sometimes you do put the book down (or I do!) but often it's worth trying to push past that first bit and get on to the unputdownable bit!

Binnie Syril Braunstein

I'm an inveterate re-reader-have been since I was 10, and I've never been able to break myself of the habit. Oh, well... This month, I read 2 books by Nora Roberts: Under Currents and Shelter in Place. And several days after reading each, the re-reading bug bit. Reread each. Also this month, I reread Mary Jo's Once a Spy and Anne's Marry in Haste. And also during October, I found myself re-reading Sarah Morgan's New York, Actually, in which the hero has to borrow a foster German Shepherd Dog from his sister in order to facilitate a meeting with the beautiful woman on the other end of the leash of a gorgeous Dalmatian named Valentine? What's not to like, even the second time around? And I've reread Mary Stewart's Madam, will you talk to the extent that I wore out the paperback and had to replace with a hard copy. AndI also like Dick Francis, especially the Sid Halley series, beginning with Odds Against and Whip Hand. Whip Hand was actually made into a TV movie, I believe - perhaps showing on PBS eons ago. Thanks for launching this very entertaining column, Nicola.

Faith Freewoman

Mary Jo, we must be twins!

I just re-read ALL of Dick Francis's novels in August and September, and they can still keep me up all night!

AND, because I've been trying to find old faves that WON'T keep me up all night...

(Dick Francis did NOT prevent me from staying up all night reading), I then went to the Innkeeper Chronicles...and stayed up all night again anyway, even though I practically have them memorized.

And for those not familiar with Dick Francis, I was able to read them all because most of his books have recently been re-issued, and I bought them for $2.99. They might still be on sale.

I do so enjoy this monthly column, and have discovered some of my very favorite stories thanks to your recommendations.

Now I think I'll drag out the Dragonriders of Pern books on my Kindle and read those when I'm not reading editing projects!

Cheers, Faith

Nicola Cornick

Thank you! It's always a pleasure to put the WWR together. There are so many interesting books mentioned each month. I loved New York Actually - I was dog consultant on those "Bark Rangers" books!

Nicola Cornick

Faith, I'm another one who when Mary Jo mentioned Dick Francis, went rifling through my shelves! They are such page turners. And I love the heroes who are really resourceful and generally very attractive!


I'm another who frequently rereads, Binnie. Sometimes it's reassuring to KNOW that you're going to be spending time with an excellent book.


October was a mixed bag for me. I read (and a few times didn't finish) several recently highly recommended books (romance and women's fiction), all of which left me unimpressed. I did, after a slow start, come to really enjoy American Royals, by Katharine McGee, but I somehow missed the memo that it wasn't a stand-alone. Arghhhhh! I was bowled over by the translated from German Go, Went, Gone, by Jenny Erpenbeck and by The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (probably recommended here a while ago, but I'm often behind). Sherry Thomas' new YA The Magnolia Sword was wonderful, and I loved (again, I'm slow to catch on!) The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Finally, after not loving several recommended audiobooks, I stumbled on the delightfully warm and fun Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix and was happy to learn she has plenty more for me to enjoy.


SO happy to hear how much others love Dick Francis! Altho as mentioned in a post to the last Wench column, I am trying to purge, there is no way my hardcover (!) Francis collection is going! After having some surgery in late September, and "anesthesia brain" for several weeks after, I also found that re-reading was about all I could manage, and decided an early start on Christmas favorites was perfect for a limited attention span. Went through all the Trisha Ashley Christmas stories ("Twelve Days" is still my favorite); then all the Christmas Revels collections; and the wonderful Christmas Roses collections by Susan, Mary Jo, and Patricia. I don't read much non-fiction these days, but am a huge fan of Ruth Reichl, restaurant critic and Gourmet editor. My Kitchen Year, her memoir, with recipes, of the year after Conde' Nast shut down Gourmet, was so moving and inspiring (and delicious), that I grabbed her most recent book, Save Me the Plums, as soon as I heard about it, and was not disappointed. It covers her recruitment to Gourmet and her time there as editor in chief. For anyone interested in food, magazine publishing, or strong women finding their way, I highly recommend it. And there are recipes, too!

Mary T

Except for Anne Gracie's latest, MARRY IN SECRET, which was wonderful, I've not read too many new novels that have impressed me. I think MARRY IN SECRET is the best (so far) of this series. But I always tend to think that when I am reading a series I enjoy.

I did just start a new Christmas novella by Caroline Warfield, CHRISTMAS HOPE, and I am enjoying it very much so far (halfway through). I have enjoyed almost everything I have read by her, so I don't think I'll be disappointed. The book takes place during WWI, which is different from most Historical Romances I read.

Binnie Syril Braunstein

Nicola - I salute your dog expertise! Sarah Morgan's dogs are are wonderful. They're in her Puffin Island series as well as the O'Neil Brothers, as well. So tell me - did you also consult on Anne Gracie's Finn - the Irish wolfhound in her "A Marriage of Convenience" series?


Dick Francis's heroes were always men of honor. A reader could trust them not to turn skanky in the middle of the book.

Nicola Cornick

No, I can't take credit for Finn! But Sarah and I talk dogs quite a lot as we're both dog lovers.

Nicola Cornick


Nicola Cornick

I'm glad you found some good ones amongst your October reading, Margaret. Taste in books is such an individual thing, isn't it! Sometimes I'll pick up something that people are raving about and just don't get it. Other times I love something and recommend it and then someone's left disappointed. Tricky!

Nicola Cornick

Constance, thank you for the recommendation of Ruth Reichi. Her books sounds wonderful and so inspiring! Love the idea of the recipes too. That is going on my Christmas list!

Anne Gracie

Oh, thanks so much for that lovely comment on Marry In Secret, Mary. I'm delighted you enjoyed it.

Thanks also for the Caroline Warfield recommendation — I've never read her, but I might follow her up.


I really like Michelle Diener's sci-fi, but I keep hoping she'll go back to her Tudor-era series! It was so good!


I read "Promise Not To Tell" by Jayne Ann Krentz, contemporary romantic suspense. It was enjoyable, but no surprises, she has a formula and sticks to it.
The other two books I want to mention were more offbeat, but I recommend them both. I sometimes stumble across a romance novel from way back, and if I like it I look for other books by that author. It's a shot in the dark, because some of them are so obscure that there are no Amazon reviews, and the book can only be found in used paperback. That's what happened with Frances Murray. I LOVED "The Heroine's Sister" so when I saw that "The Belchamber Scandal" was available on Kindle(only $1.55 right now!) I decided to take a chance on it, although the cover does not signal a romance. The heroine comes from a respectable background but is left destitute after her father dies, so she has to become a governess. She has the usual troubles that occur with a young, unprotected woman in that position, nasty vengeful children, attempted sexual assault, eventual firing, and her troubles only get worse from there. She really hits rock bottom before eventually getting the HEA she deserves. Mostly it's the story of her fall and eventual redemption. The hero comes along later in the book, and they don't get a lot of page time together, but I loved the ending which is quite unorthodox for a book written some decades ago.
The other older book I read was "Listening Valley" by D.E. Stevenson. She's always worth reading and this one was new to me. It takes the heroine from childhood, through World War II, and again, the hero only becomes evident towards the end. If you have Scribd, which I do, you can read it for free.

Anne Gracie

Binnie, Whip Hand is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. I have most of his books — and I only say most because if one isn't there it's because I lent it to someone who didn't return it.

Anne Gracie

Try writing to her, Karin. Reader letters are always lovely to get, and it might inspire her to write another.

Nicola Cornick

Karin, I'm particularly intrigued by the sound of the Frances Murray books. I will see if I can get hold of them. Thanks so much for mentioning them here!


The Heroine's Sister has a lot of humor and adventure, while The Belchamber Scandal has more tragedy, although things do work out in the end. Unfortunately, THS is not on Kindle, I just lucked out finding an old paperback. But it's defintely worth seeking out!


I'm also a huge fan of Ruth Reichl. "Garlic and Sapphires" covers her years as a New York Times restaurant critic, and her stories about the disguises she had to put on to keep from being recognized in restaurants are hysterical!
And I am still laughing about the time she went to The Four Seasons without a disguise and the maitre'd' said to her "the King of Spain is waiting in the bar but your table is ready"!

Nicola Cornick

I found The Belchamber Scandal on Amazon UK and downloaded it. I see there are lots of others by her as well so that will be great!

Nicola Cornick

That's a wonderful quote! I love it.

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