Day 18 Mary Jo Putney – Fun, Adventure, and a Glass Half Full

Romance matters. Let me count the ways!

To begin with, romance is fun.

Sometimes a Rogue

In our high stress modern world, fun is a valuable commodity. It’s delightful to read about over the top characters, adventures, passion, lasting love, and happy endings. A woman with a way-too-busy life can sit in the middle of the family room with a food fight going on around her and escape to a world of romance to recharge her batteries.

Romance is positive.

It’s about the glass half full, not the glass half empty. Romance protagonists are people who may have been badly damaged bycircumstances, but who rebuild their lives and becoming stronger in the mended places. Romantic heroes and heroines are the kind of people we’d like to be on our best days. Plus, they can offer practical guidance as well as escape in areas such as communication, honesty, and respect.

Romance makes it possible to explore difficult topics.

With the safety net of the happy ending, authors can deal with subjects like addiction, family problems, physical disabilities, mental issues, even death and dying. (And I’ve done all of those!) The fact that romance is fun doesn’t mean it can’t tackle real world problems.

As a kid, I read everything, including masses of science fiction, mystery, and historical novels. No matter what the genre, I always liked a book better if there was a romance and a happy ending. I loved the romantic suspense of Mary Stewart and the amazing Lymond Chronicles historicals of Dorothy Dunnett, but my true gateway drug for the romance genre was Georgette Heyer. I loved the historical settings, the wit, the language, and the relationships. Heyer had a keen eye for the absurd and for social interactions, and her books reward numerous rereadings.

So it wasn’t surprising that when I bought a computer and discovered the magic of word processing, (“When you fix something, it stays fixed!”) my first attempt at a novel was a Regency that owed all too much to Heyer. But The Diabolical Baron quickly found an editor, and I was off.

The Rake

Twenty seven years later, I’m still writing romances, and immensely grateful to be part of the community of romance readers and writers.

Romance Rocks!


I just read a new historical romance by Maggie RobinsonIn the Arms of the Heiress is the first of her Ladies Unlaced series, and it has a fresh new setting: England in 1903. The heiress of the title, Louisa Stratton, adores motor cars and drives one, very badly. After a year kicking up her heels on the Continent with her maid and friend, Kathleen, she feels compelled to return to England for Christmas with her hypercritical family. Having invented a perfect husband to stop their nagging, she hires Charles Cooper, a down on his luck former Boer War veteran who is far from perfect, but who turns out to be perfect for her. Smart, funny, sexy, and with fresh, engaging characters, the book left me looking forward to the next in the series, In the Heart of the Highlander, coming from Berkley in October.

An author who is primarily e-book original these days is my friend Patricia Rice. Though she’s had a long and successful career in traditional publishing, she is now delighting in the possibilities of e-publishing. Besides making her backlist available, she is publishing e-book originals to continue some of her popular series, and is also venturing into new territory, as with her charming mystery-ish contemporary novel, Evil Genius.  


Questions for Mary Jo:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

I don’t know about ugly objects—familiarity is a pleasant patina for even the least aesthetic objects. But craziest? That would be the Mayhem Consultant’s cat, Reggie the Rascal, or sometimes Reggie the Rotten. Small, energetic, and not very bright, he harasses the older, staider cats, barfs up dry food largely unprocessed, and does his best to hurl himself outside into the wide, dangerous world. Occasionally he succeeds, leaving me anxious about his potential lifespan. So far, he’s always reappeared within a day or two, jaunty and unremorseful. Why do I keep him? Well, he’s entertaining, purrs like an outboard motor, and most important—he’s family. Reggie at Christmas 002

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

The title? It Never Hurts to Ask. Who to play me? Well, Diana Rigg is tall, gorgeous, and British, which limits the resemblance, but her wit and intelligence are traits I aspire to!

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

My mother lived in China as a girl, and she often told us stories about the country when we were little. She had a collection of beautiful Chinese objects that her own mother had bought when the family lived in Peking: embroidered robes, jewelry, delicately engraved brasses, and they’d been left to my mother. When I finished college and went off into the world, flying to the opposite coast to find a job and start my adult life, she gave me a carved white jade medallion. I have it still—a connection to my mother and the far-traveling grandmother I never knew. I inherited the love of travel, too!

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Probably I’d choose Reginald Davenport and Alys Weston, protagonists of my novel The Rake. Reggie was an alcoholic, Alys the strong, unconventional steward who managed the estate Reggie inherited. Their complicated developing relationship transforms them both. (And yes, Reggie Davenport was the namesake of Reggie the Rascal. We’ve wondered if he would have been a more peaceful puss if he’d been named after one of my better behaved heroes….)


You are reading this essay at Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

Mary Jo is generously donating one copy of SOMETIMES A ROGUE to U.S. reader and one copy of SOMETIMES A ROGUE to an International reader (International readers enter here). U.S. readers, to enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 18 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.

Mary Jo PutneyA New York Times bestselling author, Mary Jo Putney was born in Upstate New York with a reading addiction, a condition with no known cure. Her entire writing career is an accidental byproduct of buying a computer for other purposes. Most of her books contain history, romance, and cats. Her current Lost Lords series include No Longer a Gentleman, May 2012, and Sometimes a Rogue, September 2013. October sees the release of the mass market edition of Mischief and Mistletoe, a Christmas anthology by the eight authors of the Word Wenches blog, and also an e-book Christmas novella anthology called Christmas Roses. She has had ten RWA RITA nominations, two RITA wins, and in 2013 is the recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.


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  • Thanks for your words and for the international part of the contest. I totally agree with you, because I found in romances fun, relax, deep emotions, interesting thoughts and problem solving, and often deep cultural insight. Thanks a lot!

  • Tin

    (Please don’t enter me in the contest. I had the pleasure of reviewing an ARC copy and it’s amazing!)

    Hi! Loved both of your recommendations! Am a big fan of all three of you. ^_^

  • Nancy Huddleston

    I really like your take on romance. It does rock. Thank you for sharing.

  • Melanie Backus

    Great post! A book feels good in my hands. And the fact that women like you write such amazing books……I am in awe! Keeping my fingers crossed for a win!

  • Deb Hinshaw

    Romance is positive. Yes, it is! Love is a great thing for two people when they find it. Why critics think a romance story is a silly or not a piece of literature really must have no idea about the genre. Thanks for sharing your post today, Mary Jo. Just like your books/stories, your words flowed beautifully.

  • Kim Cornwell

    My favorite is historical romance. Love meeting new authors. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Polly

    I believe I have been a fan since the first book! Your writing came along when I really needed to read.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I read romance because of that guaranteed happy ending. You are right about being able to handle the difficult struggles & situations in a novel knowing that you have the HEA to look forward to.

  • Anna

    Looking forward to Sometimes a Rogue! Thanks for the recommendations, too! 🙂

  • girlygirlhoosier52

    Big fan of yours and Rice… And thanks for the promo of Maggie Robinson, I’d not read anything of hers and will now!

  • Ketta Peters

    Love your Lost Lords!

  • Carrie

    I’ve been a fan ever since I discovered Dancing on the Wind and had to learn more about those Fallen Angels.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I like happy endings!

  • Meredith Richardson

    Very well said about how positive romance books are. They usually contain strong female characters that helps us find the strength to deal with out own day to day lives.

  • Eileen Wetterstrom

    I liked your essay. You made me aware that romance novels do deal with life’s difficult problems. That idea hadn’t struck me before. It’s therapeutic for many who have the same problems. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karin Anderson

    If you think about it, most fictional books or movies have romantic elements in them somewhere. Everyone wants a happy ending and to most people love is a big part of that.

  • Jen C

    As I read through your article, I went “check” at each heading! Romance is positive, it can explore so many interesting areas, and it rocks! Rock on!

  • Ann Mettert

    Yes. Romance is all of these things. Oh. And thanks bunches, I now have another author, Maggie Robinson, to put on my TBR list. Really that sounds like my kinda book. 😉

  • Krysten Michelsen

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your books 🙂 And I completely agree with all of your essay!

  • Melissa Sullivan

    Mary the first book of yours i’ve ever read was “The Rake” and its still one of my all times favorites. I have such a soft spot for tortured heroes and Reginald really touched my heart. ^^

  • J.J.

    Your books were one of the very first romance novels I read (A Kiss of Fate, The Marriage Spell) when I first stepped into the world of romance books, I thought, “Magic n romance together?!?!! Well, now that’s just perfect!” Bec I like n read fantasy and sci-fi before romance novels took over. Well, am still reading all kinds of romance, but not so much sci-fi now, guess you can say you have a part in ruining it for them (sci-fi). 😛 😀 😉

  • Rowan Worth

    “Gateway drug”!! Love it!!! Georgette Heyer was mine as well–my mother and grandmother read her books. I read and reread and re-reread them…And then I discovered people like YOU wrote these sorts of books as well!! My book budget has never been the same.

  • kimmy lange

    I love reading your books, and after reading this post, I think I’ll dig them out to re-read. I have almost all every book that you have written and I can’t wait to read this one.

  • Martha Lawton

    I realized today after reading your essay… that I have only read one of your books. This is going to have to be addressed as I enjoyed it. I will have to find the others in the series and enjoy them. Thank you.

  • Mary Tapia

    The Rake was my introduction to your work. Iloved it!

  • Mary Tapia

    The Rake was my introduction to you work. I loved it and have been addicted ever since!

  • Anne

    Thank you for the wonderful essay! I have enjoyed all your books and just finished Sometimes a Rogue. I liked Rob and Sarah from their very first scenes and am very glad they got their own book.

  • Barbara E.

    I really enjoyed your post Mary Jo and since I’ve been reading romance for many years, I’ve been reading your work, and Patricia Rice’s for quite some time. I’ve discovered Maggie Robinson’s as well, so your recommendations are definitely spot on for me. 😀

  • Patty Vasquez

    Thunder and Roses was my introduction to your work. Nick and Clare, and their unique love story, are one of my all-time favorites.

  • Beth Re

    Reggie looks my daughters cat Sigh same markings and everything
    Same wild eyes LOL

  • MK

    Thank you for the recommendation! I have just ordered In the arms of the heiress

  • M Kuxhaus

    I love Georgette Heyer, too!

  • Kim

    Thanks for the essay. Besides your historicals, you also wrote some great contemporaries.

  • Robin Greene

    Mary Jo, I’ve been reading you since your Super Regency days new and I’ve read every word of yours that I could get my hands on. I’ve already pre-ordered your Sometimes a Rogue.

  • Ana Alina Negoita

    I really love your books.They gave me the chance to dream again in a world where you are to tired and busy to do that.

  • someproseandcon

    Mary Jo, I’m a big fan of your writing, but an even bigger fan of your mother — and was so happy that you mentioned her in this post. Mrs. Putney was my teacher for 1st and 2nd grade at Akron Elementary School, and she’s the best teacher I ever had (and as I hold a PhD, you know I’ve had A LOT). She was warm, funny, wise, and one of the most creative people I’ve ever known. One of my oddest memories from her class involves a clay sculpting project. With my blob of grey clay, I solemnly shaped a coffin containing a body and detached head. Your mom, always calm and collected, simply asked me about it, and I proudly explained that it was Mary, Queen of Scots. My love for romantic heroines started early. 🙂 Thanks to you for books that have continued to feed my addiction.

  • Sue G.

    Such pretty dresses on your covers. I should have born in that era to be able to wear those dresses!

  • Mary Jo Putney

    So many wonderful comments! I see familiar names. (Yes, Robin. )

    Someproseandcon, I LOVE that you were one of my mother’s students! She had a true gift for teaching. Long after she retired, she continued doing adult literacy tutoring. She never mentioned a student sculpting Mary Queen of Scots.

    Beth–Yep, that’s Reggie, the Wild One. But he’s also incredibly friendly, and I’d really miss him if he left for good.
    I’m in the final crazed stages of the next book, so it’s delightful to hear from so many readers! Bobbi Dumas has done a wonderful job of bringing together all of us romance lovers. Happy reading to all!

  • rebecca moe

    I absolutely agree. I always liked books more with romance and a happy ending!

  • Mary McCoy

    Thank you for all of the HEA’s you have given to your readers and I will definitely be looking for Maggie Robinson’s books.

  • jcp

    I’ve enjoyed your books!

  • Kareni

    Thank you, Ms. Putney, for the many hours of reading pleasure that you’ve given me. I’m looking forward to your next book.

  • Marcy Shuler

    Aww…I love the pic of Reggie the Rascal. I also had a not very bright kittyboy named Curry. LOL

  • Ann

    ‘Twenty seven years later, I’m still writing romances, and immensely
    grateful to be part of the community of romance readers and writers.’ – and WE are grateful to you. Thank you!

  • Britney Adams

    Such a great post! Thank you for sharing your gift of writing!!

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    I enjoy all types of books, but romance is my favorite. I love the happy endings.

  • ki pha

    Exploring different and difficult topics in romance is one thing I totally love about reading romances. It give hope to everyone who knows or might have some of those same troubles in their life and just makes everything positive. It also brings some understandings to those topics and give some light on it, that not all romance are jolly go happy all the time. And that not every character are perfect. Which gives them more depth and more realisticness to them.

  • MooMoo Cake

    Like you, I read books from many genres but like books with romance and happy endings the best. I’ve enjoyed your post here and the books of yours I have tried. I’d love to win a copy of Sometimes a Rogue. Thanks for the post and the chance to win!

  • Cindy A

    It may seem simplistic, but I want my books to have a happy ending. I started with Georgette Heyer, too, and I like all genres of romance. I identify with the characters as I’m reading, so it keeps me in a better mood.

  • QuenKne M

    I can’t wait to read The Rake and your other books. Thanks R- A-R-M for introducing me to Mary Jo.

  • Erlinda Mejia

    Petals In The Storm was my intro to Mary Jo Putney. Wonderful story and just the beginning! Thank you for sharing your talent and stories with us, your fans and avid readers of romance in all its forms.

  • Janie McGaugh

    Georgette Heyer was my introduction to Regency romance many years ago. I wrote on a previous post about how your books got me back into reading romance again after my father gave me one of your books to read. It really does make a difference in your outlook on life when you read romance.

  • Glenda

    One of the things I love most about romances is that they come in so many genres. Although historical is my fav, it is fun to be able to find contemporaries, SciFi, fantasies, mysteries and more historicals! Thanks for all the books you’ve written. I’m really enjoying the Lost Lords series!

  • BookLady

    I love the happy ever after endings in romance books. Your books sound wonderful and the covers are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on romance.

  • brhill2010

    The cat looks so adorable. I am not really a historical fan because I have never really read them. So you will be added to my TBR list. Thanks for being a romance writer.

  • Romance is positive, and fun and brings me a lot of joy. Thank you Mary Jo!

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Hi Mary Jo, it was recently my great pleasure to be present at the RITA Awards Ceremony in Atlanta when you received your very well deserved Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Many, many, congratulations, and may I say that I loved your acceptance speech! I did not see you after the awards or I would have congratulated you in person. If you are planning on attending RWA/San Antonio next year, I would love to meet you and tell you how much I love and appreciate your body of work.

  • Mary Jo Putney

    Thank you, Flora! I like San Antonio so there’s a good chance I’ll be there. Too early to plan, though!
    Yes, the cat is adorable.

  • Larena Hubble

    I love romances because you get an HEA. I pretty much read every time period there is.

  • Pam P

    Good post, Mary Jo. So many of your Fallen Angel series are favorites, but The Rake is my very favorite, an alltime favorite. Came up this past week on another blog as a highly recommended read, talking about romances to do with healing.

    • Hi, Pam – Could you please send me an email at bobbiwrites at att dot net, please? Hope to hear from you soon.

  • Kim

    Your cat is cute! I love that romance tackles serious topics.

  • Pamby50

    I love that you said in your post that romance readers can read in the middle of a food fight. There were no food fights but I could read while the kids were watching tv. My husband said how can you do that. It’s easy, you just block it out. Looking forward to reading one of your books.