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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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    Chicago Tribune

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    • Publishers Weekly


« Italian Inspiration - Part 1 | Main | On "Stuff" »


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I second or third Violet and the Bow Street Runner. It is a fun book and it is a nice change to have an actually working hero.
Just finished Caroline Lindens Desperately Seeking Duke series "All the Duke I need" This latest was just released this week and I loved both the hero, who is more American than British and the half Indian heroine. Amazing how they both fit into the ducal setting. Now I am waiting for the extended epilogue that has been promised.
I also read the fourth book in a paranormal series by Seana Kelly. This time it takes place in Paris, England and Wales. I liked the first books immensely, but I am not entirely sure where this series is going. Still, better than a lot of paranormals around. You have to start with book one, though!
And for something completely different a police procedural set in Bern, Switzerland. I was rather skeptical at first, but who would have thought how thrilling eco farming and the quaint towwn of Bern can be. Since I live here, I can assure you the descriptions are actually spot on, I liked the main characters and for once did take some time to guess the murderer. Highly recommended. Pesticide by Kim Hays, who is an American married to a Swiss and living in Bern. I also read basically all books by Jessie Mihalik that have been released, after I finished Hunt the Stars and wanted more. Two finished series are already out and both are good. I like her aliens a lot and how she deals with more evolved or enhanced individuals.
Other than this a lot of rereads and books in German. Oh and I read three of Kelley Armstrongs books, which I think were recommended here. I shall hopefully finish that series next month.


I'm a sucker for scientific heroines and in Darcy Burke's 'The Duke of Seduction' we find a fascinating lady who is more interested in rocks than romance, that is until she encounters the rake with a heart of gold, who writes anonymous poetry to help distressed ladies and secretly plays divine music on his guitar .... you can guess the rest!!

No need to introduce Lisa Kleypas in this company but having despaired of downloading any MP3 audio books (in English) to the UK I am making my own using computer voices. While not as good as a skilled narrator, modern voices (I favour Ivona) are very good and pronunciation dictionaries can be really powerful so that with little effort the experience can be almost as good as reading hard copy. At the moment I am listening to the Ravelels series ... highly recommended!

I like Emily Larkin and have noted the latest. Also 'The Species Seekers' sounds interesting though no audio as yet and the e-book is a little expensive at the moment .... its now on my watch list.

As always thanks for the recommendations 😊

Alice Mathewson

As always some great ideas. I have just read Little Wing by Freya North. Her descriptions of the landscape and people of the Isle of Harris are exquisite (I went there on my honeymoon nearly 30 years ago and it was just as I remembered:-)) and the story is good too. Having recently moved to Scotland, I am reading lots of books set in Edinburgh and would highly recommend Ambrose Parry's series and The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan

Andrea Penrose

Thanks so much for sharing these books. As my late mother was Swiss, I'm so intrigued by the mystery set in Bern! Will definitely check it out. I love discovering new books through our readers!

Andrea Penrose

Quantum, Darcy Burke's scientific heroine sounds wonderful. Will definitely grab that.

And thank you so much for the info on making your own audiobooks. I didn't realize that was possible. (Though I'm not an audiobook person, it's still really good to know!)

Andrea Penrose

Thanks, Alice!

Scottish-set books are always of interest to me. Litte Wing sounds very interesting.


Since last time, week by week ~

— I continued my Doyle and Acton reread and enjoyed revisiting Murder in Shadow, Murder in Misdirection, Murder in Spite, Murder in Just Cause, and Murder in the Blood all by Anne Cleeland.
— stepped off my reread-athon to read The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch. I’d describe this as a mix of science fiction/time travel and mystery with a lot of gore. It was an interesting read but not a book I’m likely to reread.
— Last month, my book group read author Jane Harper’s first book, The Dry. I liked it so elected to read the author’s second mystery which I also enjoyed. Force of Nature: A Novel by Jane Harper
— a contemporary m/m paranormal romance, Mind Magic (The Triad of Magic series Book 1) by Macy Blake. This was pleasant but not a book I’m likely to reread.

— read Akin by Emma Donoghue for my book group; I very much enjoyed this book about a 79 year old man and the 11 year old great-nephew he suddenly gets custody of and their trip to Nice, France. I would happily read more by the author. The book has a slight mystery element and some poignant history; it also has a lot of humor and I laughed aloud several times.
— Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik; it’s my favorite of her sci-fi romance books thus far.
— enjoyed Near Death (A Raney/Daye Investigation Book 1) by Rich Hosek, Arnold Rudnick, et al. which I won in a Goodreads giveaway. This is a mystery with paranormal elements and, for once, I actually figured out the evil-doer before the reveal. Should book two be written, I’d happily read on.
— the fantasy Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson which I enjoyed. It actually reminds me a bit of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric and Desdemona series. If a sequel to this book appears, I would happily read it; however, I don’t think I’ll likely reread this book. This book has violence, but I think it could be a fine choice for teens and adults.
— continued my Doyle/Acton reread and enjoyed revisiting Murder in Deep Regret, Murder in Revelation, and Murder in Unsound Mind all by Anne Cleeland.

— A Peculiar Combination: An Electra McDonnell Novel by Ashley Weaver; this was an enjoyable mystery featuring a safe cracker set in world war two England. It also happens to be on sale for $2.99 for US Kindle readers.
— enjoyed the historical romance Someone Perfect (The Westcott Series Book 9) by Mary Balogh.
— reread Quarter Share Book 1 of 6: Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper by Nathan Lowell which I enjoyed once again. One of the nice things about this space opera series is that it does not include battles; rather it’s about day to day life on board a trading ship.
— read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and was one-more-chaptering until I finished the book at midnight. I very much enjoyed it (well, excerpt for the parts that made me sad). I received my PhD in Chemistry in the latter eighties, and the book reminded me of how grateful I need to be for women of earlier decades who fought battles that I did not. There is a very good review at Dear Author.

— Rescue You (Dogwood County Book 1) by Elysia Whisler was a very enjoyable contemporary novel featuring two romances. Much of the story centers around a dog rescue so fair warning that abuse to dogs features in the story.
— enjoyed the contemporary male/male romance, When All the World Sleeps by J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry, which had a lot of dark moments. One of the characters had murdered someone in his sleep.
— reread with pleasure Transcendence and the companion work Luffs both by Shay Savage. These have a young woman who travels from the present day to a prehistoric time.
— enjoyed the male/male fantasy Winter of the Owl by Iris Foxglove, and would happily read more by the author.
— continued my Doyle/Acton reread with Murder in Material Gain and Murder in Immunity both by Anne Cleeland.
— Scales and Sensibility (Regency Dragons Book 1) by Stephanie Burgis was an entertaining regency era romantic fantasy. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
— enjoyed the lighthearted science fiction novel The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi; it’s my first book by this author and I would happily read more.
— an enjoyable alternate universe romance, The UnTied Kingdom by Kate Johnson. Interestingly, I see that the book has been rewritten and re-released with a new cover. Now I can’t help but wonder how my version differs.

-- enjoyed The Firstborn: A Regency Romance by Quenby Olson (but I preferred her newer book better). Unlike Miss Percy's Pocket Guide (to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons) this book had no dragons.
-- reread with pleasure Blood Money: An Alice Worth Novella by Lisa Edmonds. This is a prequel to a series I enjoy.
-- enjoyed The Wizard's Butler by Nathan Lowell; as you might surmise from the title, this was fantasy and specifically slice of life fantasy. It was a fun mellow read.
-- also reread with pleasure Half Share and Full Share both by Nathan Lowell. These were by the same author as the above but were slice of life space opera.
-- enjoyed rereading Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid which is a contemporary male/male romance featuring rival hockey players.
-- enjoyed Dark Class (Class 5 Series) by Michelle Diener which is a new book in a favorite science fiction romance series. This series is best read in order.
Note: the first book in the series, Dark Horse, is currently FREE to US Kindle readers.
-- enjoyed the male/male fantasy The Necromancer's Light (Radiance Book 1) by Tavia Lark.


I enjoyed seeing what everyone has been reading and have added some titles to my list.

Anne: I read about half of Unbreak Me by Michelle Hazen last year but stopped because it was so sad. I may need to try it again some Utime.

Nicola: I see that one of the books you recommended, Mine Until Moonrise by Jennifer Bernard, is currently free for US Kindle readers. Thank you!


I read The Last Bookshop in London some months ago, and I have somewhat better memories of it than Andrea does. I know what it is to grow up around strong personalities, such that one doesn't have much opportunity to develop decision making strengths oneself. So I was engaged by the heroine's struggle to become a person in her own right, and how the job she undertook helped her do that. I didn't think there was anything wrong with her; those were the circumstances she grew up with, in an era in which alternatives were often Just Not Talked About. The prose is on the plain and simple YA side, true, but I didn't feel talked down to. In short, I liked it and would recommend it as a good read.

This month I read The Book of Cold Cases (another good suspenser by Simone St. James) and A Sunlit Weapon, a particularly good Maisie Dobbs WW2-set mystery. Right now I'm reading some old Signet regencies by Vanessa Gray (aka Jacqueline Aeby), and finding her non-emo style restful.

Jan Hubbell

I’m culling books too. I have WAY too many for a two-bedroom condo. I’m absolutely NOT getting rid of my Dorothy Dunnett books! I’ve just finished rereading The Game of Kings, the first book in The Lymond Chronicles. It is one of my very favorite series. It has probably been more than 10 years since my last read. Every time I reread it, I get something new from it. That’s the definition of a great book.

Vicki L

This month I had a LONG string of Poor, Pitiful, Woe is me books. Good thing I'd either gotten them from the library or for very cheap from the library sale because I would have truly resented paying lots of money for them! There were quite a few DNF's because some of those characters were just so...yuck! Lots of promise in the premise of the books but execution...the books just needed to be executed....grin.

After a month of this type of reading it truly makes me appreciate the books the Wenches have written where yes, the characters have had lots of trials, tribulations and trauma BUT they aren't poor pitiful me people! Whew...rant over.

First up at the beginning of the month I read Lure of Song and Magic by Patricia Rice. Found I had it on my kindle and really enjoyed it. Fascinating storyline and characters with lots of suspense. Great ending and will read on in the series.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher was a Mary Jo rec from a year back. Adventure, fantasy, romance and fun. Loved Halla and Sarkis. There were lots of laughs and action in this book and I was sorry the series wasn't continued.

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre. Picked up at the library sale and it was a really fun, exciting read. SciFi Adventure with a bit of romance in it. Jax is the MC and she is something else. She grows a great deal during this book. It ends on a HEA moment but there are 4 more books in the series. Hopefully the HEA holds up. I will read on.

After my string of UGH books I ended up reading all 6 of Mary Jo's Rogues Redeemed series to get the lingering miasma of all those poor pitiful people books out of my brain. Totally enjoyed them again!

There are SO MANY recommendations hitting the spot for me this month! Making a list to look for when I return the current library books I have.


Vicki L: Have you read T. Kingfisher's Paladin books? Those are also fun reads.

Andrea Penrose

OMG! Kareni, I have to start a TBR just for your recommendations! SO many interesting books!

Thank you!

Andrea Penrose

Janice, I'm a big fan of the Maisie Dobbs series, but haven't read the newest one yet—so thanks for reminding me about A Sunlit Weapon.Must put that high on the TBR pile.

Andrea Penrose

I really have to try The Lymond Chronicles again. Everyone I know loves the books, but I just never got into the first one. I must have been in a weird mood or something. I think it's time to try again.

Andrea Penrose

So glad the Wenches' books help get past a "dry" spell in reading. Pat's books have such wonderfulcharacters and inventive plots. And Mary Jo Rogues Redeemed series is SUCH a keeper.

Patricia Rice

I think one had to be very young to dig through and appreciate Dunnett's thicket of prose to find the story. I think there's a good story in there. But I was much too old and impatient and experienced to put up with it when I read the first book. I, too, gave it up as an acquired taste.

Patricia Rice

LOL on " Lots of promise in the premise of the books but execution...the books just needed to be executed....grin." Yeah, I've stumbled across a few of those too.

Glad you enjoyed LURE!

Anne Gracie

Kareni, it was a bit sad in places, but I liked it in the end. And having only seen New Orleans before Katrina, it was very interesting to see how the problems continue.

Anne Gracie

Andrea, I have also tried to get into The Lymond Chronicles several times, and stumble at the first few chapters or the first book. But so many people whose opinions I respect love it to bits, I keep (occasionally) trying.
Pat might be right. I needed to be younger.


I'm happy to learn that I'm not the only one who gave up (well, postponed - I still have a copy of the first one) on the Lymond Chronicles. I should give it another go.

It is odd how one's tastes can change with the years. When I was a teen I had a massive crush on Lord Peter Wimsey (I was the kid who begged the librarian to let me take out Busman's Honeymoon even though it was redlined, meaning that under 21 could not borrow it). I didn't want to wait *years* to find out what happened when they got married (not much, not on paper, not in that era). But now I regard them as very good British mysteries, well written with interesting puzzles - not as a compelling couple story.


Thanks for the reminder of Emily Larkin's newest book. Anne, I have reread ANGEL ROGUE several times, which I guess makes it my favorite of the Fallen Angels. The humor is wonderful and I adore the hero.
This month I read HUNT THE STARS by Jessie Mihalik, and agree with Kareni, it is great sci-fi romance. I also read another sci-fi trilogy mainly because it was available on Kindle Unlimited-Combined Operations by Dorothy Grant. I enjoyed the first book, GOING BALLISTIC, but ultimately cannot wholeheartedly recommend the series because of some outdated relationship dynamics, and excessive violence, especially in the last book.
I loved THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood, a delightful fake relationship contemporary rom-com, set in the world of academia.
On the historical romance side, my best discovery was Joyce Harmon. She's written a series called Regency Charades, which are traditional closed door romances. Wonderful writing, with a great cast of characters. The first book is A FEATHER TO FLY WITH, and it centers on a family of con artists. The 2nd one, REGENCY ROAD TRIP, has a hero and heroine both pushing 60, a very charming story. I am looking forward to the remaining 3 books in the series. These are also on Kindle Unlimited.
I also read I'M ONLY WICKED WITH YOU by Julie Anne Long. It's the 3rd of her Palace of Rogue books, and although it was enjoyable, it was not as good as the first 2 books, imho. I'm looking forward to #4, AFTER DARK WITH THE DUKE.
Lastly, I read IN BED WITH A SPY by Alyssa Alexander, which I had somehow skipped over when I read the rest of her Spy in the Ton series. It was extremely suspenseful, with a very strong and fierce heroine. I do recommend the whole series, for fans of Regency spy romances.

Andrea Penrose

Now I don't feel so bad about not loving it, as you and Pat are outliers, too!

Andrea Penrose

Oh, good! Another non-Lymond lover!

I know what you mean about tastes changing. Funny, I had a similar reaction to Lord Peter Wimsey. I still adore the mysteries and the characters, but Peter is no longer a youthful heartthrob.

Andrea Penrose

Karin, thanks so much for these Regency recommendations. The Joyce Harmon and Alyssa Aexander books sound great!


I recommend My Darling by Adele Ashworth if you have not read it. It was her debut book and a truly lovely moc story and the epilogue was absolutely fabulous. I wish she would write a sequel..


It’s My Darling Caroline

Vicki L

I'll look for the Paladin books next...I think I've seen you mention them before but didn't write the names down.

Liz Fielding

Thank you so much for mentioning Beach Hut Surprise, Anne. It was enormous fun writing - not too far - out of my usual genre. And thank you for the recommendations of so many wonderful books.

Annette N

HOLY BOOK SELLER, BATMAN! Y'all have given me so many books that think I would like to read. The list grows and grows. In the real world, I need to stop finding new books I want to read. I am not Elon Musk's long lost rich sister. I have re-read a couple of oldies but goodies the last few days. It is hard for me to find books which make me excited, so this new list may help me.
When I am not feeling the love from new books, I re-read Susan Elizabeth Phillips and/or Julie Garwood, and laugh and that seems to help me.
Everyone here has provided me with new titles and authors which may be just exactly what I am needing. So, thank you - each one of you - I am in your debt.

Take care and everyone smile, please.


Kareni, I am firmly convinced you never sleep! Your lists are always so full of interesting topics, authors, and new-to-me titles! I haven’t yet read Akin but I so enjoyed her last book, Pull of the Stars, that Akin was already on my TBR list, and with your rec has moved to the top. Pull of the Stars takes place in Ireland during the 1918 flu pandemic and is the story of 3 women working in a hospital. Fascinating and kept me up very late!

Andrea Penrose

Thanks, jcp! I'm not familiar with that book. Off to check it out now!

Andrea Penrose

Thanks for stopping by, Liz! Can't wait to dive into Beach Hut Surprise. It sounds wonderful!

Andrea Penrose

Annette, so glad you enjoy this monthly feature. I learn about so many new books too, which is wonderful and I've discovered many new favorite authors. Enjoy!

Maybe you local library has many of these titles. I know it's hard to buy everything,so maybe you can check them out.


I, too, have just added WAY too many titles to my TBR mountain. I started Kate Quinn's The Diamond Eye this morning; I've loved all her other books, but they generally start a little slow, and this one is no different. I'm sure I'll be hooked in a day or two. In romance, I finished Abby Jimenez's new Part of Your World, and it was absolutely fabulous.

Teresa Broderick

Constance, I hadn't heard of Pull of the Stars and I think I'd really like it. I love books set here in Ireland. I've added it to my never ending TBR list!!

Joanna Maitland

Seconding Liz's thanks to Anne for recommending BEACH HUT SURPRISE. In my case, it was waaaay out of my comfort zone. I usually write Regency romance and here I was, writing about vampires! Yup, vampires. I blame Liz Fielding, Sophie Weston and Sarah Mallory for challenging me to do it. (Well done, gals)

For anyone who shudders, I should add that my vampire story is humour not horror. And I fell for my vampire hero, Theo, so much that I am currently finishing the second full-length story about him. Once #2 is in the bag, I'll be looking to get the vampire series out there.

Andrea Penrose

This sounds like SUCH a fun anthology, Joanna. A humorous vampire sounds great (I'm not so big on the dark side of fangs.) Really looking forward to reading al the stories.


Pull of the Stars does sound good, Constance!

Should you read Akin, I hope you'll went it.


Hmm, that should have been "...hope you'll enjoy it."


Love at First Bite is one of my favorite movies. Some great lines in it.

Anne Gracie

It was a most enjoyable read, Liz, and though your story was not too far away from your usual genre, a couple of the stories were surprising — in a really good way.

Anne Gracie

Joanna, I confess I did hesitate when I saw your story was a vampire tale — BUT, once I started it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think your vampire series will go down a treat with readers.

Jeanne Behnke

My life has been wild lately & I haven't been able to read or comment for a month I think! Of course, this is always my favorite blog, all comments included. I was finally able to get through my Richard III marathon. Whew! So interesting though. Now I'm on the newest C.S. Harris When Blood Lies. So so good. I can't put it down. Next will be The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James. Much needed.

Joanna Maitland

I'm not big on the dark side of fangs either, Andrea. So Theo is (shall we say) an unusually undark vampire. Hope you like him.

Joanna Maitland

Thanks so much, Anne.

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