“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
Romance’s Sweet, Savage Lady
Rosemary Rogers’ Life
Rosemary Rogers revolutionized the historical romance genre with the publication of her first book, Sweet Savage Love, in 1973. She is considered as one of “Avon’s Queens of Historical Romance.”
She was born in Ceylon, now modern-day Panadura, Sri Lanka, on December 7, 1932. Her life was as passionate as her romances, having had three husbands. The first was a track star 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 and lasted eight years. She took her professional surname from this union. After their divorce, Rogers was left to care for and support herself and her four children alone, as well as her extended family, on a typist’s income.
Later in life, she married a man twenty years her junior, but that, too, 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 years a story had been burning in Rogers’ mind, one that she had worked on since childhood. She had revised it many times, and after reading Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, she knew she could write as well or better.
After the release of The Flame and the Flower, Avon had received an influx of submissions for erotically charged romantic novels. Sweet Savage Love was their next huge hit. Unlike Woodiwiss, Rogers’ books had heroines with other sexual experiences besides only the hero.
For the next decade, historical romances would either be “sweet” in the style of Woodiwiss, with the heroine having only one lover (the hero could be either faithful or not, as well as physically or verbally cruel), or they would be more like Rogers’ “savage” romances, where the heroine would have sex–willingly or unwillingly–with other partners.
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.
Legacy and Death
Rogers was good friends with her co-worker, Shirlee Busbee. Roger’s success in writing would inspire Busbee to submit her manuscript to Avon, which would result in the publication of Gypsy Lady. This was followed by many other successful romances such as While Passion Sleeps.
Rosemary Rogers would write romances well into the 2000s, with her final book, Bride for a Night, released in 2011 for Harlequin.
My personal favorite of Rogers’, Wicked, Loving Lies is set on three continents and spans years in the thrilling, chaotic love story of Dominic Challenger and Marisa Radley.
In 2019, Rogers passed at her home in Monterey, California, surrounded by her loved ones. She was 86 years old and left behind four children, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and fans who cherish her memory.