Tag Archives: Barbara Riefe

male authors

The Male Authors of Vintage Romance

male authors of romance

Romance Is For Everyone

In the past, Sweet Savage Flame has focused on authors who used pseudonyms. We’ve posited reasons why romance writers would use pen names. One possibility given was that men were romance writers. As romance is often considered a woman’s topic, it’s understandable that male romance writers would favor an opposite-gendered moniker when publishing.

The realm of fictional violence has been historically masculine. Romance, on the other hand, has been consigned to the feminine sphere. Upon closer inspection, the matter is not so black-and-white. While females account for 82 to 85% of the romance genre readership, that still means many men enjoy love stories with happy endings.

Consider that romance is a billion-dollar industry, with a 30% market share of paperbacks alone. Romance lags (barely) behind only the suspense/thriller genre in total sales for adult fiction. In the United States, about 25 million romance books are sold annually. Despite being a primarily women’s domain, that means there are quite a few male romance readers. What about the writers?

male romance writers
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Men Who Wrote Romance Novels

Men were part of the 1970s romance revolution, and to this day, they remain part of it as writers and readers. Most male writers published books under pseudonyms in the early years of historical romance.

A few years after the release of The Flame and the Flower, in 1976, Avon’s competitor Warner Books published Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde. Wilde had released Gothics under the names Edwina Marlow and Beatrice Parker.

In reality, he was Thomas E. Huff of Texas, and his 550-page saga became a huge hit, receiving dozens of printings and selling multi-million copies. Written in the “savage” style of romance, it told the tale of indentured servant Marietta Danvers and her rocky relationship with the purported hero, Derek. However, Marietta had other lovers along the way.

Love's Tender Fury Jenneifer Wilde

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Huff was among many men who were romance writers working under pseudonyms. Subsequently, we decided to find out who were the authors behind the names.

Robert Vaughan’s Take on Being a Male Romance Writer

“I wrote [them] as Patricia Matthews, made number one on the list. In 1981, I sold 6 million books. In my lifetime, I have probably sold 40 million books, but nobody knows who I am. Now, my wife Ruth and I are co-writing romance novels as Sara Luck.  She’s actually quite good at it, and I’m proud of her.  And though the Sara Luck books don’t have my name, Ruth and I at least own the name.”

ROBERT VAUGHAN

Men Who Write Romance

Below is a list of male writers who authored romance novels during the 20th century.

There are men since 2000 who now write romance but are not on this list. For example, men like Ilona Andrews or Sylvain Renard.

Nicholas Sparks, Robert James Waller, and similar authors are also not included, as they were/are not writers of the Romance genre in general.

List of Male Romance Writers (or Male & Female Duos)

A

  • Felicia AndrewsCharles Grant

B

  • Monica BarrieDavid Wind
  • Emma BlairIain Blair
  • Jessica Blair Bill Spence
  • Stephanie BlakeJack Pearl
    • Cousin to author Donald Bain aka Lee Jackson
  • Madeleine Brent –Peter O’Donnell
    • Brent had successfully published Gothics for years before the new bodice ripper era.
  • Elizabeth BrightTim Myers

C

  • Tori Carrington Lori Karayianni & Tony Karayianni
  • Shana CarrolKerry Newcomb & Frank Schaeffer (both men)
  • Lucy ClarkLucy Clark & Peter Clark
  • Jan CoffeyNikoo McGoldrick & Jim McGoldrick

D

  • Emma DarcyWendy Brennan & Frank Brennan
    • Until Frank’s death; then Wendy wrote by herself.
  • Fancy DewittPaul Fairman
  • Jennifer DaltonDavid Wind
  • Marilyn DavidsDavid Wind
  • Marilyn Davidson – David Wind
  • Diana DouglasRichard Wilkes-Hunter

F

  • Paula FairmanPaul Fairman & Robert Vaughan
    • Fairman passed away in 1977. He was a prolific science fiction editor and writer who lived from 1916-1977. Fairman published two romances as Paula Fairman before he passed on. Later, Pinnacle Books, his publishing house, would continue to release Paula Fairman novels through a ghostwriter, a la V.C. Andrews. That “ghostwriter” was the even more prolific Robert Vaughan, author of the bestseller Andersonville.
  • Caroline Farr Richard Wilkes-Hunter

G

  • Emma GoldrickEmma Sutcliffe-Goldrick & Robert Goldrick
  • Victoria GordonGordon Aalborg (We’ve reviewed one of his romances here)
  • Leigh GreenwoodHarold Lowry
    • Greenwood openly writes a man but uses a gender-neutral pseudonym

H

  • Caroline HartCharles Garvice
    • Unheard of today, but Garvice was the best-selling British romance author of his era, from the late Victorian to the Pre-World War I era, releasing over 150 romance novels.
  • Shirl HenkeShirl & Chuck Henke
    • Actually, Henke wrote all her books, but her husband would often guest-write a love or action scene, and Henke would leave you guessing which one it was.
  • Melissa Hepburne – Craig Broude
    • Broude is the only romance novelist to appear in his own book and have relations with the heroine, that scamp! I recommend reading his books with your butt unclenched, as his books are silly romps.

J

  • Lee Jackson – Donald Bain

K

  • Madeleine KerMarius Gabriel Cipolla

L

  • FabioFabio Lanzoni may have come up with ideas for his books, but he has at least two ghostwriters, one being Eugenia Riley.
  • Laura LondonSharon Curtis & Tom Curtis
  • Janet LovesmithPaul Fairman
  • Sara LuckRobert Vaughan & Ruth Vaughan

M

  • Edwina MarlowTom E. Huff
  • Shauna MarloweRichard Wilkes-Hunter
  • Patricia MatthewsPatricia Brisco Matthews & Clayton Matthews, and Robert Vaughan
    • The Matthews and their publishers claim she wrote her novels by herself, sometimes with the help of her husband. Matthews was labeled as “America’s First Lady of Historical Romance” after producing million-selling blockbuster after blockbuster. Interestingly enough, journeyman author, Robert Vaughan, claims responsibility for several of her bestsellers. We’ll follow up on this interesting discrepancy in a further article.
  • A.E. MaxwellEvan & Ann Maxwell
    • Author Elizabeth Lowell wrote some romances with her husband by combining the initials of her real name Ann Maxwell and her husband’s first name Evan.
  • May McGoldrickNikoo McGoldrick & Jim McGoldrick
  • Paula MoorePaul Fairman; Robert Vaughan

N

  • Christina NicholsonChristopher Nicole

P

  • Beatrice ParkerTom E. Huff

R

  • Barbara Riefe Alan Riefe
    • Riefe published many books with Playboy Press and other publishers, selling millions of copies.
  • Clarissa RossW.E.D. Ross
  • Marilyn RossW.E.D. Ross
  • Vanessa RoyallMike Hinkemeyer

S

  • Christina SavageKerry Newcomb & Frank Schaeffer (both males)
  • Gill SandersonRoger Sanderson
  • Con SellersConnie Sellers (male writing as a male)
    • Sellers was a rarity in that he used his real name to write Pulps, Western and Historical romances, such as Marilee and Sweet Caroline.
  • Janette SeymourMichael Butterworth
    • We’ve reviewed of his bodice rippers and they’re quite entertaining.
  • Katherine St. ClairTom E. Huff
  • Jessica StirlingHugh Crawford Rae & author Peggy Coghlan
  • Pamela SouthDonald Bain

W

Y

  • Alison YorkChristopher Nicole

**Saliee O’Brien & Francesca Greer** – Not a male, but often attributed as one. She was a woman named Frankie-Lee Griggs Weed Zelley Janas, who used several pseudonyms, male and female, especially Francis Leroy Janas.

Some Books by Male Authors Reviewed on Sweet Savage Flame

https://sweet-savage-flame.com/category-romance-review-dont-ask-me-now-by-emma-darcy/

https://sweet-savage-flame.com/category-romance-review-arafura-pirate-by-victoria-gordon/

https://sweet-savage-flame.com/book-review-passions-proud-captive-by-melissa-hepburne/

https://sweet-savage-flame.com/book-review-tempt-not-this-flesh/

https://sweet-savage-flame.com/historical-romance-review-emmies-love-by-janette-seymour/

 SOURCES:

LOVE’S TENDER FURY, NY TIMES
THIS RAVAGED HEART

Historical Romance Review: This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe

barbara riefe historical romance review
This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe
Rating: three-stars
Published: 1977
Illustrator: Betty Maxey
Book Series: Dandridge Trilogy #1
Published by: Playboy Press
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Paranormal Romance, Time Travel Romance, Romance with Rape Element
Pages: 414
Format: Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader


Historical Romance Review: This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

The Book – This Ravaged Heart

This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe–aka Alan Riefe–is a 1970’s Playboy Press bodice ripper. This weird work of fiction sold almost two million copies; no joke!

While it wasn’t a great book, it had enough bizarre twists to qualify for a grudgingly positive review.

This was one freaky-deeky read.

A Weird, Wild Trip

This Ravaged Heart opens up with Ross Dandridge aboard a ship that is headed from England to the USA. He has brought his bride, the English Rose, Lisa, to meet his wealthy shipbuilding family in Rhode Island.

They make love on the ship while sailors bet on when the pair will finally leave their room for some fresh air. And that’s it for romance.

That’s right. The hero and heroine have already met, fallen in love, and gotten married before the book starts, so what the hell else is there?

I tend to enjoy bodice rippers penned by male authors as they usually bring a lot of crazy fun into their works.

However…

Unlike Mr. Melissa Hepburne, who knew how to keep the pages turning with rompy, rapey/forced seduction stupidity…

Or Mr. Janette Seymour, who threw bodice-ripping tropes one after another, handled with surprising grace and sentiment…

Or Mr. Jennifer Wilde, with his penchant for verbose purple prose and clothes porn…

Barbara Riefe/ Alan Riefe is like a monkey banging away on a typewriter, putting letters onto paper in random chaos, attempting for anything remarkable to appear.

And sometimes it does, but there are a lot of dull parts to trudge through to get to them.

The Plot?

Ross has zero personality and is really quite stupid. Lisa has a good head on her shoulders, but the situations she’s in aren’t that engaging, despite how bat-guano-crazy they seem. Don’t expect any fun between Lisa and Ross; they’re separated for almost the entire book. Yup, this is a romance novel, just one without any romance.

The best thing about This Ravaged Heart is Lavinia. In her early 40’s, Lavinia is Ross’s aunt, who is engaged to her brother-in-law, Ross’s father. However, she hungers for her nephew, Ross–and shockingly, it’s revealed she is actually his mother!

Her twin sister was unable to conceive, so Lavinia switched places with her. She slept with her sister’s husband and gave birth to Ross in secret while the wife pretended to be pregnant.

And Lavinia’s a witch. Not just any old witch, but one in league with Satan’s minions, a witch who engages in sexual romps with other local witches, and has the devil’s demon, Ledion, lusting after her for hot demonic sex.

Her lack of remorse for her evil deeds and incestuous love, her unwillingness to surrender in the face of failure, and her tireless efforts to get what she wants, made Lavinia the star of the show.

Lavinia plots to get rid of Lisa and does so in a completely unexpected way. Lisa is retro-incarnated back to England in the 1660s into the body of a dying blonde. Lisa awakens to a confusing world that her post-Enlightenment, Industrial-Age mind has trouble accepting.

Then Lisa is raped various times by wicked men, makes some friends and loses them, is jailed for murder, and becomes a witch so that she can get back to her beloved (but absolutely boring) Ross.

Sounds exciting, right?

My Opinion

Well, it’s okay, but not great.

Plus, the last third of this book really draaaaagsss. Thank the Devil for Lavinia’s malicious, murderous and incestuous shenanigans. She knows how to get what she wants.

He had adored her, reveling in her body, in her movements, unable to control his passion. She laughed…a man half her age, in the prime of his youth and in one hour she had worn him down to the brink of exhaustion. It was fantastic, too beautifully barbarous to be believed. Her own flesh and blood, her own fetus grown to manhood had fallen in love with her!

It’s so freaking sick, but that’s Lavinia.

Warning to Book Collectors About the Paperbacks

Sidenote: These 40-year-old Playboy books were made of really crappy material.

My edition looked as if was in good condition but literally disintegrated in my hands: falling apart, piece by piece, the glue cracking in the spine, the cover chipping and tearing until it fell off completely.

Even my old Zebras have withstood the test of time and various re-reads with ease.

Fortunately, I had 3 extra copies of this “romance “(don’t ask me how or why!). This Ravaged Heart is notable for being one of the first romance novels to have a full-stretch cover clinch instead of a smaller image centered in the middle.

Either Barbara Riefe ‘ripper or Kathleen E. WoodiwissShanna was the first to have this style. Both novels were published in 1977. In my opinion, Betty Maxey‘s artwork isn’t as memorable as H. Tom Hall‘s illustration.

Final Analysis of This Ravaged Heart

So This Ravaged Heart by Barbara Riefe is the first in a series of three novels. Which I have to read since I own them.

Although I’m not feeling compelled to do so anytime soon. Alan–that is, Barbara–may have gotten the WTF factor of bodice rippers right. But there are no romantic elements or engaging leads to draw me in.

This was supporting character Lavinia’s book to shine. The main characters blew.

Still, I had to give this an overall positive rating. If not for the romance, just for Lavinia’s wicked, son-loving heart, with her ridiculous Satan-worshipping, witchy antics, and of course, her cat, Mody, who was all kinds of awesome.

Rating Report Card
Plot
3
Characters
3.5
Writing
2.5
Chemistry
2
Fun Factor
3.5
Cover
3
Overall: 2.9

Synopsis:

Lisa Allworth Dandridge, a young English bride, came to America as mistress to a vast shipping fortune. Desperately in love, she and her dashing husband, Ross, never dreamed that they would soon be parted by malevolent forces beyond their control.

A powerful story of one woman’s tender love and another’s overwhelming jealousies. Their struggle for the same man sweeps across continents and across time – from the 19th century world of aristocratic splendor to plague-ridden London; from the heights of passion to the darkest pits of hell. It is a magnificent novel of star-crossed lovers caught in a web of horror.

THIS RAVAGED HEART by BARBARA RIEFE