Day 9 Mary Jo Putney – Romance IS Celebration


Years ago, my friend Robyn Carr said that romance is the sizzle of the steak, the crazy, wonderful feel of falling in love. The love story is how you feel about him fifteen years later when he throws his socks under the bed.

Mary Jo PutneyRomance novels are about both those things, and so much more; not just the thrill when a boy you really like takes your hand in a darkened movie theater, but also the warmth and tenderness of a smile from the love of your life after decades of shared experience. And it’s also the friends who love and support us as we love and support them.

Romance is not only entertainment but a useful coping mechanism, and the same is true of other varieties of genre fiction. In murder mysteries, the villain is caught and justice triumphs. In epic fantasy, good triumphs over evil. In a Western, the good guys shoot the bad guys or drive them out of town. The moral order is reasserted after being out of whack.

The reason we need this, of course, is because the real world so often seems out of balance, and this is magnified by a toxic atmosphere of broadcasting and cable channels and internet news dedicated to screaming and outrage ALL THE TIME. Even the weather channel seems to have orgasmic fixations on tornadoes (and let’s not follow that image too far!)

Romance celebrates not crime or tornadoes, but humanity. Jennifer Cruise said that she discovered romance novels when she was researching a dissertation on the different ways men and women tell stories. For the female research, she decided to read a hundred romance novels. 90% of them were awful, a percentage she says is true in all genres. 10% were terrific.

But what really intrigued Jenny was that she recognized the world in which those romances were set. That world centered on women and their concerns. It’s a world where emotion and how you feel about something really matters. A world where love and commitment are celebrated.

Reading a good romance novel can light up our lives by making us smile and laugh even on bad days. In a challenging world, a good romantic story reminds us that many of the best things in life are small and personal.

We don’t need to celebrate romance. Romance is celebration!


I very much enjoyed the first book by a new author, Jael Wye. ( She successfully blends smart, tough science fiction romance with–fairy tales. <G> Ice Red was the first in her Once Upon a Red World series, in which Mars is a flourishing colony and giant elevators travel from the surface of Earth and Mars to great space stations. It was also a very fun fairy tale with futuristic versions of an innocent princess, a wicked stepmother, a charming prince, and an innovative twist on the poisoned apple. I bought the second in the series, Ladder to the Red Star as soon as it was released, and I look forward to reading it.  *Jael created RARM content you can read here.

Lillian Stewart Carl ( is not new, but the variety of her books and the way they often cross genre boundaries means she’s not well known even though she’s an excellent writer. She’s written fantasy, suspense, romantic suspense, and mystery, all of it romantic, and usually with wonderful history woven in. A good place to start is with The Secret Portrait, first in her seven book Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron mystery series. The series has an American heroine transplanted to Scotland, a Scottish police detective, and a wonderful sense of Scottish atmosphere and history. I love Jean’s wry asides as her curiosity leads her into unexpected places. Reading the books is like a delicious visit to Scotland!

 Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

The most daring, not to mention clueless, thing I’ve ever done was graduate from college with my degree in industrial design, pack up my portfolio, and buy a one way ticket from Syracuse, NY, where I went to college, to San Francisco. I didn’t have a job or a place to stay, but I figured I could work something out. As indeed I did.

When I landed in San Francisco, I took an airport bus into the city to the YWCA where I’d booked a room. It was night time and the great rolling hills were spangled with lights and the dark sweep of the bay was to our right. I’ll never forget how the bus driver, who had a deep velvet voice, said, “Welcome to Baghdad on the Bay.”

Pure romance! But looking back, I marvel at how crazy I was. <G>

SometimesaRogueMMTell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I always had stories in my head. I thought everyone did. I read stories at every available moment, and when classes were boring, I developed romantic adventure sagas in my head. But I was a kid in a small rural school, and the world of publishing might as well have been Mars. So I read and daydreamed, and couldn’t even imagine being a writer.

Then I bought my first computer, and after mastering the word processing program, I thought it would be fun to try to write a book. I’d been reading as many traditional Regencies as I could find, so that’s what showed up on my monitor.

I realized I was a writer three months later when I was offered a three book contract for Signet Regencies based on a partial manuscript. I mean, I must be a writer, they were willing to give me money! (Though not very much. <G>)

Even now, there are times when I blink and think, “Wow, am I really a writer? How did I get so lucky?!!”

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

That’s a hard one! Perhaps it could be Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings, first in what became her epic Lymond Chronicles. The story was dazzling–lush with language and atmosphere and what is perhaps the most complex and fascinating hero ever created. Dunnett’s throwaway lines were so intelligent that I didn’t understand half of them, but no matter. I was well and truly bewitched. And after an amazing journey across sixteenth century Europe–the series gives a happy ending.

Mary Jo is generously giving away a copy of her current release Not Quite A Husband for one U.S. reader (entry form below) and one copy for an international reader (enter here).

Mary Jo PutneyMary 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. She has had ten RWA RITA nominations, two RITA wins, was the recipient of RWA’s 2013 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and she’s so distractible that she’s amazed that she ever finishes a book.


You can find her online at and

Buy Mary Jo’s Books:

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  • Sheryl N

    New author for me, thanks for the intro. I am going to check the books out on Amazon

    • Mary Jo Putney

      I hope you enjoy my books, but the lovely thing about Read a Romance Month is how MANY kinds of romance we can discover!

  • angryreader

    I cannot even leave a reasonable comment because I love your books so much. And I am generally a most calm and balanced person. Thank you for the countless hours of enjoyment your books have given me.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      How nice to know that you aren’t always an “angry reader!” *G* Comments like yours are particularly welcome when one is locked in a death struggle with a new book, as I am now, so many thanks.

  • Fern Martin

    I love your books!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Thanks so much, Fern!

  • disqus_AkumBOXW38

    I loved your Guardians series! They were some of the first paranormal historicals I ever read. I particularly liked The Marriage Spell and Stolen Magic. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book too!
    Jael Wye

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Jael–I’m glad you like my paranormal historicals! A lot of historical readers like getting their fantasy fix from the history, but they were great fun to write.

      As for your books–what a great mash-up of science, adventure, sizzling romance, and fairy tales! I love the way boundaries between subgenres are coming down.

  • May

    Love your novels!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Thanks, May!

  • Anna

    Yay Upstate New York!! I too was born there, with a reading addiction. Must be something in the water.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Or the long winters! Great for reading as the snow whips by the windows. (I grew up between Buffalo and Rochester.)

      • Anna

        I grew up near Utica. Yes, definitely the winters!!

  • Emmel

    “Romance is celebration!” This is undeniable. And I love to celebrate it every day. 🙂

    While I’ve read MJ’s Regencies since the Signets, with particular fondness in that group for The Would-Be Widow and Carousel of Hearts, I’ll second the love of the Guardian series. I do hope we get more in this world one day, perhaps as ebook novellas…..

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Emmel–I’ve actually written a novella, a novelette, and several short stories in the Guardian world. Some time in the next year or so I plan to to a collection of them, though I’m not sure exactly when. But I love the world, and maybe some day I’ll write more there.

      • Emmel

        Fantastic! I would love to be able to get that collection!

        • Mary Jo Putney

          Emmel–I only just got the rights back to the full length novella, so the collection is some time off. But since you’re interested, you might want to subscribe to my newsletter. I only send out a few a year, when I have a new release, so it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to be on the list:

  • Susiecat

    You’re one of my favorite authors. I’m looking forward to reading the new one as soon as you’ve wrestled it into submission!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      The one I’m wrestling with won’t be out until next year, but book 6, NOT QUITE A WIFE, will be out on August 26th. That one is nicely tamed. *G*

  • Patty Vasquez

    I’m certainly glad you bought that computer and tried your hand at writing! Thunder and Roses, Dancing on the Wind, and The Rake are books I celebrate on a regular basis.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Patty–so am I. *G* Reggie is great, but he might be harder to live with!

  • Deb Hinshaw

    I love the quote “Romance IS celebration.” Thank you for posting today, Mary Jo.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      You’re welcome, Deb! Romance is very much about the glass half full–about the good days.

  • Laurie Skinner Gray

    Thanks for becoming a romance author! I love your books, especially the interconnected stories.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      You’re very welcome, Laurie! Most of my books have been connected since the beginning of my career, but none more than the Lost Lords series I’m doing now. I’m working on book 7/

  • Barbara E.

    Loved the post. Thanks for the recommendation, I’m going to pick up Ice Red right now. 😀

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Barbara–there aren’t many science fiction romances out there, and I loved the way she wove her story around a fairy tale. *G* Fun.

  • Judy Goodnight

    It’s been a while since I read one of your books; time to correct that! Thanks for the Lillian Stewart Carl recommendation; the Scottish detective series sounds fascinating.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Lillian has a wonderful sense of Scottishness, plus the ability to do meticulous plotting that mystery requires. But she’s also written fantasy and romantic suspense–very versatile! And most of her books are available in e-editions.

  • Kim

    Do you get back to Syracuse for any college reunions?

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Kim–I’ve never been a reunion person, alas. SU is BIG, and I had bachelor’s degrees from two different years (degrees in England and Industrial Design), so I would have known what you to go. *G*

  • Janie McGaugh

    Thank you for the introduction to a couple of new (to me) authors. Their books look really interesting.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Janie–They’re very different writers, but both very good. I hope you enjoy them.

  • Glenda

    Thanks for the author recommendations, Mary Jo! Great article as well!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Thanks, Glenda! I hope you enjoy the authors I suggested. A great thing about Read a Romance Month is that all of us are suggesting new authors, and there are bound to be some you’ll like.

      • Glenda

        The author recommendations alone would make it worth following along, Mary Jo! Last year I discovered a ton of wonderful new authors!!

        • Mary Jo Putney

          Great! That’s one of the reasons RARM exists–it’s a benefit for readers and authors both.

  • Quinn Fforde

    Totally agree with you and love the weather reference!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Quinn, my dh loves the weather channel, and whenever I pass the den in the evening, there are hysterical tornado stories on *G* Those guys LIVE for catastrophic weather!

  • alisha woods

    Have stories in my head too, but don’t have ability to transfer to paper

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Alisha–that’s why getting my first computer was essential. I have terrible handwriting and I’m rather dysgraphic, meaning my typing isn’t very accurate. But with a word processor, when you fix it, it stays fixed. If you don’t have access to a word processer now, I hope you gain one in the future so you can get those stories down!

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I took a few trips on my own when I was in my 20’s, but I never got the nerve to move! Glad it all worked out for you!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Sharlene–there are advantages to being young and clueless. *G*

  • Anne Hoile

    I have always read. I remember reading Gone With the Wind in a weekend when I was 16. I adored Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Oh, yes, Anne! I also loved Jean Plaidy under all her names. And Norah Lofts, and others. Magical tales…

  • rebecca moe

    LOL–I will never look at the Weather Channel the same way again!

    Thanks for posting 🙂

    • Mary Jo Putney

      ++I will never look at the Weather Channel the same way again!++

      Then my work here is done!

  • Julie

    I love your books, thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Martha B

    Total aside, I just finished Not Quite a Wife. (LOVE your Lost Lord series). Backing up, I totally agree with your sentence, “Romance is not only entertainment, but a useful coping mechanism…”

    Reading romance novels has transported me to other fantasy worlds, different time periods, peak at life in European countries (entertainment) and helped me cope with grief, sadness or times I procrastinate tackling a tough project.

    WOW, leaving Syracuse, MN and flying cross country to San Francisco was an act of courage. Quite admirable.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      So glad you’re enjoying my Lost Lords, Martha! It was Syracuse, NY, not MN, but the basic wintry principle would be similar. I wasn’t brave to move to San Francisco. More like clueless and ready for a change. *G* But it all worked out.

      • Martha B

        ​Oops – I typed TOO fast. (Meant to type NY) Since you’re from upstate NY, it makes sense that you attended college in Syracuse, NY. 🙂

        • Mary Jo Putney

          I thought it might be a typo. (I make lots of them. *G*) SU was not only a local school, but the family school: My father, brother, and sister all went there, so it never occurred to me to apply anywhere else. Which is fine–SU served me well. But after 6 years and two bachelor’s degrees, I was ready for a change. Hence, Califonria!

          • Martha B

            Final comment (promise). We used to live in MN (hence the mistake when I first commented). Now, we live in Tucson, AZ. OMG, there is life after winter, snow & ice. I could never go back there to live! Many, many, many family members still live there (like 42 immediate family from my husband’s side and 18 from mine). He is the only one not living there out of 7 siblings.

            Anyway, we fly to MN every Christmas to spend it with family over a 2 week visit. That is enough winter for me. Two years ago, the high (which will make perfect sense to you,) was MINUS 11 degrees below zero. That was actual, not the wind chill. Brrrr. Give me our dry heat any day (including summer).

          • Mary Jo Putney

            From Minnesota to Tucson! Talk about your weather extremes. *G* I had a boyfriend from Minneapolis and visited there one college break. It was right nippy. *G* Minnesota is colder than Upstate NY, but we got more snow. Either way, a LOT of winter. I like Maryland because it’s moderate, with four distinct seasons. Not too hot, not too cold, but juuuuust right!

          • Martha B

            Oh, goodness. I’M from Minneapolis. Born and raised near Lake Nokomis (in the southern part of the city). Minnehaha Falls was nearby. Of course, telling you that might mean nothing! Minneapolis, (alone) has 22 lakes. I graduated from the University of MN (Twin Cities campus) although most of my classes were in Mpls. Classes in St. Paul were on the “farm” campus. All agriculture, farming, poultry science and some P.E. courses were held “over there”.

            Your comment about living in MD reminded me of Goldilocks – – – “it’s juuuust right!”

          • Mary Jo Putney

            One of the things I loved about Minneapolis was all the wonderful lakes! The best legacy of the glacier age. And yes, Maryland is usuall a Goldilocks state. *G*

  • Joan Varner

    I totally agree with you that “Romance is not only entertainment but a useful coping mechanism”. I have often dived into a romance novel to just escape from the humdrum and stress of every day life. Thank you for your books, they are always a treat.

  • Gayle O

    At one time, you and Mary Balogh were my favorite authors – you are both still favorites, but have to admit I’ve added a few more to the list — it keeps getting longer and longer…still reading you though, Mary Jo!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      There’s nothing wrong with having lots of favorites, Gayle! It’s a blessing. *G*

  • Ellen

    I’m laughing about being born in Upstate NY with a reading addiction…I was born in Syracuse and reading is my favorite pastime.(addiction) I’ve enjoyed many of your books.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      I spent six years at SU climbing ice covered drumlins to get to classes, and I think the weather definitely contributes to a love of reading. *G*

  • Marcy Shuler

    I agree, some of the best things in life are the small things…the moments that are special just to me. That’s why I love to read romanceeeee.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Marcy, I think the small, special moments are important in making a romance work, whether on paper of in real life.

  • Brenda E

    Great post. The romances I read absolutely have to make me smile and laugh, and of course, have that happily ever after.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      When I’m reading for pleasure (which is not NEARLY often enough these days!), I want that happy ending. For reality and misery, I have the newspaper. *G*

      • Brenda E

        For sure. 🙂

  • Angela

    Love your work! Must admit that I haven’t seen this latest book in any stores around here. Looks like it’s time for a trip to Barnes and Noble!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Angela–NOT QUITE A WIFE, the book pictured above, won’t be released until August 26, which is why you haven’t seen it in stores. But soon now!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Great post & enjoyed your story. I love Jenny Cruisie’s books. They were one of the first contemporary romance books I read after years of historical romances. I read to escape the stress & demands of everyday life. Even now that I’m retired, reading allows me to fantasize & dream.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      And the nice thing is that since you’re retired, you can read MORE!

  • Hope Stern

    Thanks for your comments about Romance because I agree, it lights up many a dim day and has so many amazing qualities….as I have said, why not Romance? I have read almost all your work and just started a series I had missed the Angel series? I am loving it, but frankly, my all time fave is The Rake….I adored your heroine Alys, to the point I was dreaming about what she would do…..and what you did with Reg was simply magic….awesome read….

    • Mary Jo Putney

      “What would Alys do?” It’s a good motto! I love all my stories and characters, but none are more visceral than THE RAKE. I’m so glad it still resonates.

  • Sue G.

    Wow! Can’t believe you just packed up and left NY for San Francisco! That takes guts!

    I love my happy endings too! I usually read every night before bed. It puts me in a good, relaxed, happy mood!

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Sue, it never really occurred to me that moving to San Francisco was unusual. I was young and ready for a change, so why not??? It was only later that I realized that I’d been maybe a little reckless. *G*

      • Sue G.

        My first house I moved 5 minutes from my mom. My second house was 13 minutes but then she ended up moving only 5 minutes away. We laugh because my mom, my brother and my sister all live within 10 minutes of me!

        • Mary Jo Putney

          There is nothing wrong with living near people you love! It sounds like in your family, people like each other, so it sounds like a great arrangement. I wish my sibs were closer.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I love my happy endings in romance novels and they definitely put me in a better mood after a bad day. I completely agree that “Romance is a celebration!” What a great sentiment and I love reading your books 🙂

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Thanks, Courtney! Romance really is about joy, connection, and celebration. What’s not to like???

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for helping us celebrate romance! When I was in high school, we moved from Albuq., NM to Aurora, CO. Then, six months later we moved to the SF Bay Area. I will never forget seeing SF for the first time. Other than the fog, I still love living in the area. 🙂

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Stephanie, even the fog is rather lovely in moderation. Not so much on cold gray winter mornings. But you’ve lived in some pretty nice places! I love New Mexico, and Colorado is pretty amazing.

  • Pamby50

    Wow. I can’t imagine just picking up & moving across country with no job. You get to write romance books that we fall in love with.

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Pamby–at the time, it made perfect sense. I’d already hitchhiked around Europe one summer with my college roommate, so California seemed easy. Ah, the confidence of youth!!!!

  • Marie Campbell


  • Judy C

    I enjoy reading your books. Thanks!!

  • Jen C

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Great addition to RARM!

  • Denise Christensen Metcalf

    Thanks for the great post! I have been reading your books for over 20 years and am hooked. The book group I used to lead would always get excited at the prospect of a fresh release from you. 🙂

    • Mary Jo Putney

      Denise–how nice that your book group didn’t stick to depressing literary books! One can learn just as much from a good genre book–and they’re a lot more fun. *G*

  • mariannewestrich

    Romance does provide a great balance to our day-to-day. It’s the place to hide and refresh!

  • Angela H

    I enjoyed reading about you and your books. Thank you for sharing with us

  • LSUReader

    Mary Jo, I am so looking forward to reading your newest book! Thanks so much for the post.

  • Diane Sallans

    I totally relate to the idea that we use reading, particularly romance, as a coping aide – I know I have.

  • Ann Mettert

    I think you were really brave to just pack up and go to SF like that. Never could do anything like that.

  • MK

    I love this point- it’s so true and so well put
    romance is the sizzle of the steak, the crazy, wonderful feel of falling in love. The love story is how you feel about him fifteen years later when he throws his socks under the bed.

  • Erin F

    thanks for such a fun post! That’s exactly how I feel and what gets me so excited to read a new romance 🙂

  • Adaffern

    I love how you explained the difference between romance & love.

  • librarypat

    Romance is the escape valve we all need in this crazy world of ours. As you said, reading is a “coping mechanism,” and it never hurts to have one. It doesn’t mean we are refusing to face reality. Just that we are setting it aside for a few chapters.

  • Terri C

    My love story has made it through Fibromyalgia (me) and PTSD and TBI (him). Still love each other through all that and 33 years.

  • Gretchen

    I love those covers!