Romance’s Sweet, Savage Lady
Rosemary Rogers’ Life
Rosemary Rogers helped revolutionize the historical romance genre with the publication of her first book Sweet Savage Love in 1974. She is considered as one of “Avon’s Queens of Historical Romance.”
Rogers was born in Ceylon –now modern-day Panadura, Sri Lanka–on December 7, 1932.
Her life would be as passionate as her romances. She had three husbands. First, she married a track star. He was known as the “fastest man in Asia,” who was also “fast” with women. They had two children.
Her second marriage to an Afro-American man would also result in two children. In time, their differences and passionate natures proved too much to bear. The marriage lasted eight years. But as a result of this union, would Rogers obtain her professional surname.
After their divorce, Rogers had to care for and support herself and her four children alone. This, as well as her extended family, all on a typist’s income.
Later in life, she married a man twenty years her junior. That marriage also ended in divorce. It seemed Rogers’ passionate nature rivaled that of her heroines:
“I’d like to live with a man… But I find men in real life don’t come up to my fantasies. I want culture, spirit, and sex all rolled up together.”ROSEMARY ROGERS
Her Revolutionary Books
For many years a story had been burning in Rogers’ mind, one that she had worked on since childhood. She had revised it many times. After reading Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, she knew she could write just as well or better.
Upon the release of The Flame and the Flower, Avon had received an influx of submissions for erotically charged romantic novels. Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love was their next huge hit. Unlike Woodiwiss’s romance novels, Rogers’ heroines had sexual experiences with other men besides the hero. There was more violence, more rape, more of everything in Rogers’ epic, than in the tamer Flame and the Flower or The Wolf and the Dove.
Rogers’ series about the tumultuous, passionate romance between Virginia “Ginny” Brandon and Steve Morgan sold millions of copies worldwide. Her next books were also blockbuster hits. Rogers also wrote several contemporary books similar to the style of Jackie Collins.
For the next decade, historical romances would be “sweet” in the style of Woodiwiss, with the heroine having only one lover. The hero could be faithful or not, as well as physically or verbally cruel to the heroine. On the other hand, many historical romances were more like Rogers’ “savage” love stories. In these books, the heroine would have sex–willingly or unwillingly–with other partners.
Legacy and Death
Rogers was good friends with her co-worker, Shirlee Busbee. Roger’s success would inspire Busbee to submit her manuscript to Avon. This resulted in the publication of Gypsy Lady. Following after for Busbee would be many other successful books, such as While Passion Sleeps.
For over thirty years, Rosemary Rogers wrote romances. She worked well into the 2000s, with her final book, Bride for a Night, released in 2011 for Harlequin.
My personal favorite of Rogers’ is Wicked, Loving Lies. Set on three continents and spanning years, this novel would tell the thrilling, chaotic love story of Dominic Challenger and Marisa Radley.
In 2019, Rogers passed at her home in Monterey California. Her loved ones kept vigil at her side until the end.
She was 86 years old and left behind four children, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and fans who cherish her memory.
“Oh damn men and their superior ways. From now on I’ll stand on my own two feet and fight for what I want–anyway I have to, with my body and my wits… Why not? It’s a man’s world, what other choice do you leave a woman who possesses a mind?”WICKED LOVING LIES
- Backlist at FictionDB
- Rosemary Rogers on Goodreads
- Rosemary Rogers Wikipedia
- Sri Lanka Times Obituary: “The Queen of Historical Romance is No More”