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in memorium

In Memoriam: Old School Romance Authors Who Have Passed Away

in memorium

Romance Authors Who Passed Away

Many romance authors who wrote books in the 20th century have left this mortal plane. Sadly, they have died recently or in the last twenty years. Romance authors Janis Reams Hudson and Mary Daheim just passed a few months ago

For that reason, Sweet Savage Flame has assembled a list of old-school romance authors who have moved to the great beyond. We’ll be dedicating an “In Memorium” page to these authors. Look for that in the upcoming weeks.

In Memorium


  • Janis Reams Hudson b. May 7, 1951 – d. January 15, 2022
    • Hudson wrote 40 books since 1991, many contemporary series, but also historicals.
  • Mary Daheim b. November 7, 1937 – d. March 31, 2022
    • Daheim wrote historical romances from 1983 to 1992. Then she wrote many successful mysteries.
janis reams hudson
Janis Reams Hudson


  • Miranda Lee b. 1945 – d. November 13, 2021
    • Lee, whose real name was Maureen, wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.
  • Valerie Parv b. 1951 – d. 25 April 2021
    • Parv wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.


  • Emma Darcy b. November 28, 1940 – d. December 21, 2020
    • Darcy was the husband-wife duo of Frank and Wendy Brennan and wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.
  • Donna Kauffman b. March 18, 1960 – d. April 9, 2020
    • Kaufmann wrote about 70 series and full-length contemporary romances since 1994.
  • Connie Mason b. 1930 – d. March 20, 2020
    • Mason also wrote as Cara Miles. She published historical romances with Avon and Dorchester.


  • Johanna Lindsey b. March 10, 1952 – d. October 19, 2019
    • Johanna Lindsey was one of the most successful authors of historical romance, one of Avon’s “Love’s Leading Ladies.”
  • Rosemary Rogers b. December 7, 1932. – d. 2019
    • Rosemary Rogers was a blockbuster bestseller of romance, also one of Avon’s original “Love Leading Ladies”
  • Judith Krantz b. January 9, 1928 – d. June 22, 2019
    • Her soapy, romantic fiction novels sold tens of millions worldwide and were made into successful miniseries.
JOhanna lindsey
Johanna Lindsey


  • Evelyn Anthony b. Jul 03, 1926 – d. Sep 25, 2018
    • A prolific British author of romance, mysteries, historical fiction, and more.
  • Mary Kay Simmons d. July 16, 2018
    • Since the late 1970s, she wrote about 20 historical and Gothic romances.


  • Nan Ryan b. 1936 – d. 2017
    • Nancy Ryan was a writer of historical romances for several publishers, including Kensington Zebra and Dell.
  • Sara Craven (Annie Ashurst) b. 1938 – d. November 15, 2017.
    • Craven wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.
Sara Craven romance writer
Sara Craven


  • Roberta Gellis b. September 27, 1927 – d. May 6, 2016
    • Since the 1960s Gellis wrote authentic historicals, mainly medievals, She also wrote mysteries & fantasy romance.
  • Jo Beverley b. Sep 22, 1947 – d. May 23, 2016
    • Beverley was a prominent author of historical romances.


  • Bertrice Small b. Dec 09, 1937 – d. February 24, 2015
    • Labeled the “Queen of Erotic Romances,” Small wrote lusty historical and fantasy romances.
  • Colleen McCullough b. June 1, 1937 – d. June 29, 2015
    • Author of epics like The Thorn Birds and romances like Tim.


  • Valerie Sherwood (Jeanne Hines) b. July 29, 1922 – d. August 23, 2014
    • As Jeanne Hines, she wrote Gothics, as Sherwood, wrote historical romances, selling millions of copies.


  • Mary Wibberley b. 1934 – d. December 29, 2013
    • Wibberley wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.
  • Janet Dailey b. May 21, 1944 – d. December 14, 2013
    • Dailey wrote category romances for Harlequin & Silhouette. She also wrote contemporary romances for Pocket Books, selling 100-300 million books.
  • Ida Pollock b. April 12, 1908 – d. December 05, 2013
    • British author of 120 romance novels.
mary wibbery romance author
Mary Wibberley


  • Maeve Binchy b. May 28, 1940 – d. July 30, 2012
    • Called Ireland’s best-known novelist, she wrote stories about regular people with heavy romantic elements.
  • Eva Rutland b. January 15, 1917 – d. March 12, 2012
    • One of the first Afro-American romance writers, she wrote about 20 contemporaries for Harlequin before ariting another 20 books.


  • Beverly Barton (Beverly Inman-Beaver) b. December 23, 1946 – d. April 21, 2011
    • Author of category romances and then romantic suspense and thrillers.
  • Penny Jordan (Penelope Halsall) b. November 24, 1946 – d. December 31, 2011
    • She wrote Regency romances and World War II dramas under the pen-names, Caroline Courtney and Annie Groves, in addition to being one of Mills & Boon/ Harlequin’s best-selling authors.
  • Jean Innes Saunders b. February 08, 1932 – d. August 03, 2011
    • Innes-Saunders wrote Gothic & historical romances under the names Jean Innes, Jean Saunders, Sally Blake, Rowena Summers & Rachel Moore.


  • Eva Ibbotson, (Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) b. January 21, 1925 – d. October 20, 2010
    • British novelist who wrote romance, young adult, and children’s fantasy.


  • Flora Kidd b. 1926 – d. March 19, 2008.
    • Kidd wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.


  • Kathleen Woodiwiss b. June 3, 1939 – d. 2007
    • Woodiwiss revitalized the historical romance and the entire romance genre with her publication of The Flame and the Flower in 1972.
  • Anne Weale d. 2007
    • Weale wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines.
anne weale passed away
Anne Weale


  • Charlotte Lamb (Sheila Coates-Holland) b. 1937 – d. October 8, 2000
    • As Lamb, she wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin category lines and romantic suspense. As Sheila Lancaster, she wrote historical romances & Gothics.
  • Barbara Cartland b. December 13, 1901 – d. May 21, 2000
    • Cartland was the bestselling romance author of all time, with about 1 billion books sold.
barbara cartland died
Barbara Cartland

Your Opinion

Did you know these romance authors had passed away in the last few years? Were you a fan of any in particular? Did we overlook any romance writer you know has died recently?

Please drop us a line and let’s talk romance.

Miranda Lee

Tribute To Author Miranda Lee (aka Maureen Lee)

Miranda Lee

Along with Charlotte Lamb, Miranda Lee was my favorite writer from the Harlequin Presents line. Sadly, she passed away on November 13, 2021. She was 76.

Lee wrote sensually charged romances that promoted the modern woman in all her forms.

An Author From Down Under

Miranda Lee, whose real first name was Maureen, was born in 1945 in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia. She was the youngest of four children.

Her older sister, Wendy, was also a successful writer for Harlequin under the pseudonym Emma Darcy. Wendy Brennan predeceased her sibling in 2020.

Lee’s father was a country school teacher and sportsman. Her mother was a dressmaker. At age 10, her father transferred to Gosford with the family. They moved to another rural town on the coast, much closer to the bustling Sydney metropolis.

Lee attended a convent school. She studied the cello and briefly pursued a career in classical music.

Following that, she moved to Sydney, where she studied computer tech. Lee worked as a programmer before marrying her dear husband, Tony Lee. Together, they had three daughters.

The family lived happily on a few acres of land with goats, horses, and greyhound dogs.

A Writer of Sexy Romances

While she raised her children at home, Lee craved an outlet for her creativity. Preferably one that would allow her to earn a living.

At her sister’s suggestion, she set her hand at writing romance novels. After ten years of trying, she eventually signed with the Mills & Boon/ Harlequin in 1988.

They released her first novel, After the Affair, Harlequin Presents #1362, in 1990 under her pseudonym of Miranda Lee.

after the affair

After a while, the Lee family had enough of country life. They relocated to the more lively Central Coast.

Tony assisted his wife’s thriving writing career by leaving his executive job. He would become a stay-at-home dad and partner. While Maureen wrote bestselling romances, Tony cooked, cleaned, and helped the girls with their assignments.

Lee’s sensual romances resonated with millions of readers. Her writing was provocative and daring.

In 1994, just a few years into her career, Harlequin Presents commissioned her to write a six-book series. This was only the second of its kind for the line. The series, called “Hearts of Fire,” had a tight nine-month deadline.

The first book, Seduction and Sacrifice, was officially released in July 1995. “Hearts of Fire” marked the love stories of six couples. The series had an overarching plotline about Gemma Smith’s search for her real parents.

Also taking center stage was her romance with the much older playwright, the controlling and tortured Nathan Whitmore. The ultra-wealthy Whitmore clan takes Gemma in as part of their family.

The cast of players included: Nathan’s actress ex-wife Lenore; the Whitmore patriarch Byron, Nathan’s adoptive father; Byron’s plump kid sister Ava; Byron’s wild daughter Jade; his reserved housekeeper Melanie; and the notorious cougar Celeste Campbell.

Like a glittering soap opera of old, the melodrama is high. Couples fall in love and secrets are uncovered.

My Miranda Lee Experience

The first Miranda Lee I discovered was Aunt Lucy’s Lover. Surprisingly, it was far more erotic than the usual books I’d encountered from the line.

After I picked up her “Hearts of Fire” series, I was hooked. The novels are a favorite guilty pleasure read.

Other Lee romances I enjoy are An Outrageous Proposal, Marriage in Jeopardy, Simply Irresistible, Marriage at a Price, and The Playboy in Pursuit.

Besides the steamy bedroom scenes–or whatever place the couple found to get it on–I appreciated her diverse heroines. They could be young and virginal or have typically active sex lives. They could be shy and reserved or spunky and spontaneous.

In contrast, most of her heroes were modern-minded–dare I say–beta males. But on occasion, she could create magnetic bad-boy heroes as well.

Lee’s personal favorite was Maddie’s Love Child, about an independent businesswoman with no desire for marriage. She plans to get pregnant by having a fleeting affair, only to have the tables turned on her when her lover demands to be part of his child’s life.

an outrageous proposal

Into the 21st Century

Each of Miranda’s novels contained her trademark style. They were quick-paced and passionate, with relatable characters and resonating storylines. Unsurprisingly, her ideology when writing romances was simple: “Don’t bore the reader!” If only all writers espoused that sentiment!

In 2002, Lee wrote a full-length follow-up to the “Hearts of Fire” series, titled aptly enough, Hearts of Fire. It told the parallel stories of Nathan’s daughter Kirsty finding love with her bodyguard and Gemma and Nathan trying to mend their rocky marriage on a cruise ship vacation.

hearts of fire

Lee would expand outside of the Presents line by writing a couple of romances for the more sexually charged Harlequin Blaze series.

Most of Lee’s books were set in Australia. Quite often in Sydney, as Lee considered it “the most beautiful, exciting, go-ahead city in the world.” She liked creating believable, fast-paced, and passionate stories that kept the reader engaged.

Besides entertaining millions of readers worldwide, what did she love most about writing? She once said, “Not having to travel or even dress when going to work.” Alternatively, she hated dealing with deadlines. I can relate!

Her advice for keeping a marriage hot: “Weekend getaways. Somehow, hotel rooms are sexier than home.” Her husband never forgot an anniversary, lavishing her with gifts.

Death and Legacy

Miranda Lee was one of Harlequin/Mills & Boon’s most influential and popular romance authors. She would author over 90 novels for them. Lee was a USA Today Bestseller, selling over 18 million copies worldwide. She delighted readers around the globe with her captivating love stories.

Lee’s editor, Carly Byrne, recalled: “Being Maureen’s editor for the past nine years has been a career highlight. Her books were my entry point into the wonderful world of Harlequin/Mills & Boon, and it was a dream come true to eventually work with her. She leaves an amazing legacy of alpha heroes, fiery heroines, and stunning Australian settings behind her that will have brought joy to so many readers and continue to do so through her incredible backlist of novels.”

Lee’s motto was “Life is what you make it.” By all accounts, she made a wonderful life for herself as a mother, wife, sister, animal lover, and accomplished writer of sizzling romances.

In 2020, she retired from writing for Harlequin/Mills & Boon. They published her final book, The Billionaire’s Cinderella Housekeeper, in March 2021.   

billioniare's cinderlla housekeeper

Her husband Tony, three children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild are her surviving relatives. Millions of fans mourn her passing.



Sweet Savage Flame Podcast Is Up

Valerie Parv & Emma Darcy RIP

Australian author Valerie Parv recently passed away at the end of April, joining her fellow Harlequin/Mills and Boon colleague, Emma Darcy, who passed away late last December. Combined, these two women accounted for over 100 million books sold worldwide. Despite being global phenomenons, their accomplishments did not receive the acclaim they deserved.

At our Sweet Savage Flame Podcast, we honor the memory of these two romance legends, Valerie Parv and Emma Darcy.

Valerie Parv 1950-2021

Emma Darcy 1940-2020

Access Our Podcast

The podcast can be accessed at the site below, or on Spotify, Google, and many other forms:

WordPress Podcast Site

emma darcy

Belated Farewell to Emma Darcy

Farewell to a Talented Author

After writing my review for Emma Darcy’s Don’t Ask Me Now, I found out the sad news that she had passed away four months ago, on December 21, 2020, at the age of 80. Emma Darcy was a pseudonym for the husband-and-wife duo of Frank and Wendy Brennan.

Emma Darcy’s Life

Wendy was born in Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia, on November 28, 1940. She was a bright student and achieved success in college. She was the first female computer programmer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wendy and Frank married in 1964, and after having children, Wendy chose to leave the workforce and stay home to raise them. Frank was a businessman and a pharmacist.

Both were lovers of reading and they decided to join forces to write books together. Frank and Wendy wrote several books which they submitted to Mills and Boon. The legendary editor, Jacqui Bianchi, aka bodice-ripper author Teresa Denys, accepted their submissions but asked for them to be tweaked a bit before publication. In 1983, the couple released their first book as Emma Darcy, the Mills, and Boon/ Harlequin Presents Twisting Shadows.

Frank and Wendy wrote 45 books together before Frank passed away in 1995. After his death, Wendy continued to write as Emma Darcy, even branching out to write longer contemporary works and mysteries. In total, Darcy published over 100 romances, in addition to her other works.

Her family was filled with talent, as author Miranda Lee, Wendy’s younger sister also wrote for Mills and Boon/ Harlequin.

Emma Darcy was Australia’s greatest-selling romance novelist, with over 70 million copies of her books sold.

Wendy Brennan

Emma Darcy’s Books and Legacy

From 1993 to 2004 Emma ran the Emma Darcy Award Contest in association with the Romance Writers of Australia. This competition offered to provide financial support for writers who needed help to finish their manuscripts, and the winner’s work was automatically submitted to a Mills & Boon editor for possible publication.

Emma Darcy was a wonderful writer with an attentive eye for details and emotion. Many of her plots included love triangles or couples already in relationships who were facing adversity. Some of my favorites books of hers include these Harlequin Presents: Don’t Ask Me Now; Marriage Meltdown; The Shining of Love; Bride of Diamonds; and Fantasy.

I have added an Emma Darcy page to the Contemporary/ Category Romance Authors list that you can access at the header Menu under Authors or by clicking here: