Tag Archives: Romance Authors

black historical romance

Hidden Gems & Crown Jewels: The Rise of Black Historical Romances in the 1990s

The rise of Black romance novels–especially historicals– in the 1990s provided a platform for diverse representation in a genre that had long ignored this socio-demographic. 

black historical romance

The Advent of Black Romance Novels

Since the romance revolution of the early 1970s, these books have depicted heroes and heroines from varied nations and of almost every race, with a notable exception. The paucity of Black and/or African American protagonists motivated readers to create stories of their own, with characters of their own heritage.

One of the most significant developments in African American literature during the 1990s was the emergence of historical romance novels with Black protagonists and settings. The stories offered a much-needed look into the past.

These books highlighted the challenges people of African heritage faced and the accomplishments they achieved in American and Global history.

As the decade wore on, more and more writers began to include Black characters in their stories, creating stories that talked about issues relevant to these characters’ lives, experiences, and identities.

black couple in love

Some Early Black Romantic-Fiction Authors

The first romances with African-American protagonists date back to the 19th century. Jessie Redmon Fauset was an African American editor, poet, and novelist in the first half of the 20th century. A prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance, her book There is Confusion is considered one of the first Black romantic novels.

Frank Yerby wrote swashbuckling historical epics and Southern plantation romances about primarily White characters. But it was the 1968 novel, The Dahomean, a tragic tale of an African ruler betrayed and taken into slavery, that was his most personal and arguably best work. It was followed up with a sequel in 1979.

Black romances The Dahomean

Towards the End of the Century

The last decade of the twentieth century was a time of great change and progress for African American fiction. Terry MacMillan debuted her first book in 1989 and would have a long and successful career. She had two blockbusters, 1992’s Waiting to Exhale and 1996’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back, both made into hit films.

Omar Tyree’s Flyy Girl was a Young Adult sensation, spawning two sequels.

These books portrayed relationships featuring African American characters written by Black authors and allowed readers to explore different perspectives on love and relationships.

Many writers whose careers started during this era have had a lasting impact on the genre.

waiting to exhale

A Look Back at the Black Historical Romance Boom of the 1990s 

The historical romance novel has seen constant transformations in the stories it tells. The 1990s would introduce stories set in the past that told love stories from the point of view the industry had largely ignored. 

The first mainstream category romance with African American protagonists was Dell Candlelight’s Entwined Destinies by Rosalind Welles in 1980. Historical romances with Black main characters wouldn’t see mainstream release until over a decade later.

In 1989 Anita R. Bunkley self-published her first novel, a historical romance titled Emily, The Yellow Rose of Texas. The book is based on the legendary Emily D. West, the mulatto woman who was a Texian spy

Mildred E. Riley, a psychiatric nurse from New England, began writing after she retired from a 40-year career. In 1990, she published her first historical romance, Yamilla, which featured an African heroine in the American South. In 1992, she followed that up with the romance between a Native American heroine and a Black hero in Akayna, Sachem’s Daughter

black romance

Riley is known for her ability to create powerful, compelling love stories steeped in history. She would go on to write more historical romances with Arabesque several years later.

1994: Arabesque Romances Are Born

In 1994, Pinnacle Books–an imprint of Kensington Publishing–launched Arabesque romances. This was the first line of romance novels to focus on Black couples. Arabesque released both contemporary and historical books that explored African-American life and culture. 

black romance books

The credited mastermind behind Arabesque was Monica Harris, an editor at Kensington who worked under legendary founder Walter Zacarius. 

In July of ’94, Arabesque launched their first two romances, both full-length contemporaries: Sandra Kitt’s Serenade and then Francis Ray’s Forever Yours

It wasn’t until several months later, in February of 1995, that Arabesque released their first historical romance, Journey’s End, by Mildred E. Riley.

black historical romances

The line greatly impacted the publishing industry, inspiring other publishers to sign African-American authors and release similarly styled works. 

When Kensington shut down Pinnacle in 2000, they sold Arabesque off to BET-TV under Robert Johnson. Kensington would still publish the books, but BET controlled distribution, marketing, and promotion. Many Arabesque novels were adapted for television movies that would air on BET-TV.

Under their management, BET added the Sepia line for mainstream commercial fiction and New Spirit for inspirational books and nonfiction. 

In 2005 Harlequin Enterprises purchased all BET-TV Books titles and continues to publish many of them today.

Beverly Jenkins, “The Queen of the Black Historical Romance”

Today, Beverly Jenkins is a legendary name in the romance genre. In 1994 Avon Books signed her on for a contract. Her first novel, Night Song, came out in July–the same month Arabesque launched–to much critical acclaim. It was also the first actual Black clinch cover.

beverly jenkins

After several more successful novels, such as Topaz and Indigo, Jenkins became the first African American romance author to make bestseller lists in the late 1990s. From there, more women like Jenkins followed in her footsteps with their own historical romances, spawning an entire subgenre.

Beverly Jenkins writes of people from varying professions: sailors and soldiers, ranchers, doctors, abolitionists, and teachers. Jenkins’ books are known for their richly drawn characters and historical accuracy, and she has been praised for her representation of diverse characters and cultures.

“I stick to the actual history and include a bibliography at the end of each book for readers who may want to delve deeper into the subject matter. I always set my stories where Black people actually walked, worked, and lived.”


Twenty-nine years later, Beverly Jenkins is still writing romances. She has written over 50 books, including historical and contemporaries, plus young adult and inspirational books.

Out of the rising tide of romance novels written by Black writers, 1994 is known as the year when Black romance novels were born.

indigo beverly jenkins

The Pioneers of Black Historical Romance: How They Paved the Way

Other authors were writing historical romances in the 1990s that featured Black protagonists.

Shirley Hailstock wrote historical romances for Arabesque. Clara’s Promise, Hailstock’s first historical romance, won the Utah Romance Writers’ bestseller of the West Award. Her other novels made the bestseller lists and garnered awards, including the Romantic Times Award for Best Multicultural Romance.

Hailstock holds a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times Magazine, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York City Chapter of RWA, and an Emma Merritt Service Award from RWA. Her novel, Legacy, is listed as one of the 100 Greatest Romance Novels of the 20th Century.

Roberta Gayle is another famous author of African American historical romance novels. Her books for the Arabesque line included Sunshine and Shadows and Moonrise. Some other notable works include The Last Round-Up and Truly Yours. Gayle has a strong ability to bring history to life and create engaging, well-drawn characters.

Patricia Vaughn wrote for Pocket Books two wonderful romances featuring Black couples, 1996’s Murmur of Rain and 1998 Shadows on the Bayou. Her books featured captivating and well-rounded stories with deep, meaningful themes driven by tales of love, resilience, and strength.

Authors like Riley, Jenkins, Hailstock and the rest gave readers insight into a side of history that is not often discussed: the romances of people of African descent. These books have since set the tone for other writers to explore these topics from their unique perspectives by showing the beauty of multiculturalism. 

shadows on the bayou dominick finelle

Celebrating Black Historical Romance Today

As for contemporary African American historical romance writers, there are more today than were in the 1990s! Many of these authors are often on the bestseller lists and have garnered awards and acclaim.

Here are some names and books you may be interested in.

  • Vanessa Riley‘s multicultural Regency series, The Rogues and Remarkable Women trilogy features the novel’s Black heroines in a Regency setting. Her books include A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby; An Earl, the Girl, and the Toddler; and A Duke, the Spy, an Artist, and a Lie.
  • Alyssa Cole‘s diverse books include the historical romances An Extraordinary Union and An Unconditional Freedom.
  • Kianna Alexander‘s The Roses of Ridgeway historical series features African American heroines in the American West. These women find love with diverse heroes in Kissing the Captain, The Preacher’s Paramour, and Loving the Lawman.
  • Piper Huguley writes Inspirational Historial romances such as The Preacher’s PromiseA Virtuous Ruby, and Sweet Tea.
black romance

These are just a few talented African American historical romance writers working today. If you’re interested in this genre, there is an abundance of great books for you to enjoy!

Final Thoughts on Black Representation in Historical Romances

Throughout the twentieth century, there would be books telling love stories about Black characters. But it was in the 1990s that this Black romance really took off. The rise of these novels helped create a more inclusive landscape for romance.

As a predominantly African-American genre, depicting Black characters as protagonists and heroines in historical romance novels posed a unique challenge. Writers emphasized the details and personalities of their characters while also working to address the prejudices they faced in the past.

However, a remarkable aspect of these stories is how they helped normalize Black characters outside traumas related to slavery and oppression. Black historical romances offered an opportunity to celebrate the totality of the African-American experience in the past and love.

Your Opinion

Are you familiar with these authors and their works? If so, what are you are your favorite romances featuring Black protagonists? Who are your favorite Black romance authors?

Beverly Jenkins is undoubtedly up there for me, and I also love Patricia Vaughn’s books.

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!

Author Spotlight: Nora Roberts

nora roberts

The Best Selling Romance Author Alive

Anyone familiar with the romance genre knows about Nora Roberts. She is the best-selling author of romance novels alive. Roberts has been at the top for a long time, as Barbara Cartland–who sold over 1 billion books–has been deceased for almost twenty years.

She started out writing short series romance, then branched out into single-title works of fiction, then exploded on the futuristic scene with her “In Death” series.

Roberts writes as J.D. Robb for the aforementioned series. In addition, she has also written books under the pseudonyms Jill March and–in the U.K.–Sarah Hardesty.

promise me tomorrow

Nora Roberts: Early Life and Career

Superstar author Nora Roberts was born Eleanor Marie Robertson on October 10, 1950, in Silver Spring, Maryland. She was the youngest of five children.

After her Catholic school education, she married soon after high school. Roberts had two sons from that marriage which ended in divorce.

She worked briefly as a legal secretary. That would not be her calling, however. “I could type fast but couldn’t spell; I was the worst legal secretary ever,” Roberts has said.

After her sons were born, she stayed home and tried her hand at crafts.

A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six-year-old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.

After achieving success as a category romance author, Roberts branched into other romance genres. Her skillfully writing and prodigious output would garner a massive following of fans.

Roberts met her second husband, Bruce Wilder when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Since then, they’ve expanded their home, traveled the world, and opened a bookstore together.

A Silhouette Sensation

Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born.

She was able to churn out several romantic manuscripts. Then she sent them out to publishers and was soundly rejected by most of them.

Roberts was famously rebuffed by Harlequin, Ltd, as they already had one American author in their stables: Janet Dailey. Dailey would eventually leave Harlequin and join Roberts to write for their rival, Silhouette, the Simon and Schuster imprint.

Decades later, Dailey would be involved in a plagiarism scandal, where she copied parts of Roberts’ works and passed them off as her own.

Nora Roberts’ first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.

La Nora

The first writer inducted into the Romance Writer of America Hall of Fame, Nora Roberts, is known as the queen of romance fiction. She writes under other pen names, such as J.D. Robb. She is also known as “La Nora.”

Through the years, Nora has always been surrounded by men. Not only was she the youngest in her family, but she was also the only girl. She has raised two sons.

Thus having spent her life surrounded by men, Ms. Roberts has a reasonably good view of the workings of the male mind. This is a constant delight to her readers. She’s been quoted as saying, “It was a choice between figuring men out or running away screaming.”

Nora is a member of several writers’ groups and has won countless awards from her colleagues and the publishing industry. The New Yorker called her “America’s favorite novelist.”

“I know they say write what you know,” Roberts told a Publishers Weekly interviewer in 1998, “But I write about what I want to know.”

Indeed, her category romances rely less on realism and fully fleshed-out plots than on idealized characters and romanticized settings. Roberts views her works as appealing to readers on an emotional level. The books evoke feelings of first love, regrettable loss, and tender, fulfilling romance.

“That’s what people want to learn about,” the superstar author says.

once more with feeling nora roberts

Beyond Category Romance

After a decade of writing category romances, Nora Roberts released many single-issue full-length romance novels, from historicals to romantic suspense.

Then in 1995, using the pseudonym J.D. Robb, Roberts released Naked in Death. This was the first in a futuristic procedural series about police-woman Eve Dallas and the handsome Irish billionaire, Roarke.

The long-running series has been an astonishing success, with 67 books out so far.

naked in death nora roberts

Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including HideawayUnder CurrentsCome SundownThe AwakeningLegacy, and The Becoming.

There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print with no end in sight.

nora roberts
7 category romance authors who made it big

Category Romance Authors Who Made It Big

7 category romance authors who made it big

Category Romance Writers Who Became Bestselling Sensations

Many famous mainstream fiction authors were originally writers of series or category romance. Category romances are a staple of the industry. Nevertheless, they get little respect because it’s a subgenre seen as derivative due to a reliance on tropes.

These slimmed-down editions forced authors to write tight plots within a limited amount of pages. This constraint actually helped sharpen many authors’ skills and enabled them to branch off into other genres.

The following seven authors wrote Silhouette, Harlequin, Loveswept, or Dell Candlelight romances before garnering widespread acclaim.

1. Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown
Author Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is a former category romance author who rose to fame.

She has written over 80 novels, including 73 New York Times bestsellers. Over 80 million copies of her books are in print worldwide. They have been translated into 34 languages.

Her blockbusters include Blind Tiger, Thick As Thieves, Seeing Red, Outfox, Tailspin, Seeing Red, and Mean Streak.

mean streak

Sandra Brown got her start with Silhouette in 1982 with Not Even for Love. She wrote it using a pseudonym, Erin St. Claire. The book has been re-issued as Sting. She also penned many excellent romances for the Bantam Loveswept line.

Not Even for Love, Erin St. Claire, Silhouette, 1982, cover artist unknown

Brown has written historical romances as well as full-length contemporaries and mysteries.

She has made several television appearances on Ture Crime programs. Her novels French Silk, Smoke Screen, Ricochet, and White Hot resulted in television films.

Our Sandra Brown category romance recommendation: A Secret Splendor, Silhouette Intimate Moments #29, 1984

secret splendor
A Secret Splendor, Erin St. Claire, Silhouette, 1984, George Jones cover art

2. Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr
Robyn Carr
Photo credit: Michael Alberstat

Carr’s A Virgin River Christmas was her first New York Times success in 2008.

Since then, her romances and women’s fiction books have spent nearly 250 weeks on that list. Her 20-book Virgin River series has produced more than 13 million copies.

Bring Me Home for Christmas, the 16th entry in the series hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Fans of Carr’s Virgin River books can now enjoy them as a Netflix series.

Carr has sold over 27 million books which have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

Virgin River

In 2016, the Romance Writers of America awarded Robyn the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid-1970s, an Air Force wife, and educated as a nurse when she started writing fiction. She published her first book in 1980, a bodice ripper historical called Chelynne.


Almost a decade later, she wrote her first category romance for Harlequin. It was 1989’s Informed Risk, Harlequin Special Edition #517.

Informed Risk

Carr has published more than 45 books with Harlequin.

3. Iris Johansen

iris johansen
Author Iris Johansen

With her category romances, Iris Johansen broke into the romance genre at the beginning of the 1980s and quickly rose to fame. Her first book was Bantam Loveswept #14 Stormy Vows.

stormy vows

Iris Johansen had been writing category romances for a decade when she switched gears in 1991. She started to create long-length, suspenseful historical romances. The first was The Wind Dancer, which was a great hit.

In 1996 Johansen changed genres altogether, turning to crime fiction, where she has had smashing success. Titles include What Doesn’t Kill You, Dark Summer, Sleep No More, and Shadow Play.

shadow play

Johansen has over 30 consecutive New York Times bestsellers.

Johansen divides her time between Florida and Georgia. Her son–and frequent collaborator–Roy Johansen is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.

Our Iris Johansen category romance pick: The Delaney Series duo Wild Silver & Satin Ice from 1988.

4. Joan Johnston

Joan Johnston
Joan Johnston

Yet another New York Times bestselling author to have written series romances is the prolific Joan Johnston. Johnston’s books have also appeared in the top ten USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

Her backlist consists of over 40 contemporary and historical romance novels. She has over 15 million books in print worldwide.

Johnston creates gripping family dramas and romantic adventures. Her popular series include her Bitter Creek and Blackthorne family novels, which overlap.

Joan Johnston

Johnston’s first two novels were historical romances, A Loving Defiance, and Colter’s Wife. Then she entered the contemporary genre in 1988 with Silhouette Desire #424 Fit to Be Tied. Over the years, Johnston would alternate writing category romance with full-length contemporaries and historicals.

Fit to Be Tied.

Before dedicating herself to writing full-time, Johnston had many careers. She was an attorney, a newspaper editor, a drama critic, a theatre director, and a college professor.

Johnston has combined her passion for travel to conduct research for her novels and has been to Italy, England, Greece, and Scotland, as well as traveling across the United States.

My favorite Joan Johnston book is the Scottish-set historical romance, The Bodyguard.

delaney jackson

5. Heather Graham

heather graham
Author Heather Graham

Heather Graham, also known as Heather Graham-Possezzere and Shannon Drake, is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. She spent several years in dinner theater, performing backup vocals, and bartending. After the birth of her third child, Graham stayed home and began to write.

Her first book was published in 1983, When Next We Love, Dell Candlelight Ecstasy #117.

romance writers when next love graham

Her first category romance for Silhouette was Night Moves, Intimate Moments, 1985.

Since then, Graham has written over two hundred novels and novellas. They include series romance, suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas family fare.

Graham has 60 million books in print, published in twenty-five languages. She has written over 200 novels, more than half for Harlequin and Silhouette.

She was the launch author for Harlequin’s MIRA Books with her 1994 romance, Slow Burn.

romance writers slow burn graham

Graham has won a multitude of awards from prestigious institutions. She received a Silver Bullet from Thriller Writers and the Thriller Master in 2016. Graham is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA.

6. Brenda Jackson

brenda jackson
Photo credit: Blue Franswa Fotografia

Brenda Jackson is a New York Times and the USA Today bestselling author of over 140 books and novellas, with 15 million books in print.

Jackson’s professional writing career began in 1995 with the release of her first Madaris family book, Tonight and Forever, for Pinnacle‘s revolutionary Arabesque Line.

tonight and forever brenda jackson

In 2002, she signed with Silhouette to create steamy romances for their Desire line. Delaney’s Desert Sheikh, #1473, was the initial book in her super popular Westmoreland family saga.

delaney jackson

Since then, Jackson has received numerous national and literary awards and accomplishments. She was the first African-American author to make the New York Times Bestseller’s List and the USA Today’s Bestseller’s List in the romance genre. Jackson earned the Romance Writers of America’s Nora Robert’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012.

Jackson has been involved in numerous charities. She promoted scholarship programs to enable low-income students to access higher education.

Jackson has been featured in magazines such as Essence, Sister-2-Sister, Today’s Black Woman, Ebony, Romantic Times, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, and Cosmopolitan.

She has released full-length contemporary romances to great acclaim, including her Catalina Cove Series.

forget me not jackson

Her novels, One Special Moment and Truly Everlasting, have been made into movies by BET and Five Alive Films, respectively. Passionflix produced A Brother’s Honor from her Granger Series.

7. Sherryl Woods

Sherryl Woods Photo credit: Nina Subin
Sherryl Woods Photo credit: Nina Subin

Sherryl Woods has published millions of romances and mysteries. In addition to her, more than 120 romances for Silhouette and MIRA Books, Woods has written thirteen mysteries. There are 9 in her Amanda Roberts series, and the rest are part of her Molly DeWitt series.

Her first book, Restoring Love, was published in 1982 by Dell Candlelight Ecstasy under the pseudonym of Suzanne Sherrill.

romance writers Restoring Love

Her second romance novel, Sand Castles, followed later that year under the pseudonym of Alexandra Kirk. Woods would use her real name when she moved to Berkley Publishing to write for their Second Chance at Love line.

Then in 1986, she started her long career for Silhouette Desire with Not at Eight Darling set in the world of television.

Like many prominent romance authors, Woods’ books have made it to the small screen. As a result, fans of her Sweet Magnolia Series can now enjoy them as a program on Netflix.

Sweet Magnolia

My first Sherryl Woods was baseball romance Fever Pitch, a 1991 Silhouette Desire that I heartily recommend.

romance writers Fever Pitch

Your Opinion

Have you read any of these romance writers’ category books? Or are you more familiar with their mainstream full-length releases? Did you know these romance writers got their start in the category romance?

Please, drop us a comment, and let’s talk romance.



Author Spotlight: Robert Vaughan


A Romance King (and Queen)

Robert Vaughan, An Author with Many Names

Robert Vaughan isn’t a household name as a romance writer. You might be surprised to learn that in the 20th century he sold tens of millions of books. However, as he used dozens of pseudonyms, many readers do not know who he is.

His pen names include Paula Fairman, K.C. McKenna, Paula Moore, Fancy DeWitt, Patricia Matthews, Jonathon Scofield, Lee Davis Willoughby, Kit Dalton, and Sara Luck.

Vaughan has written more than 300 to 400 books using 30 to 40 aliases.

He has penned various genres of fiction, including romance, action-adventure, military, and westerns.

Robert Vaughan Paula Fairman

Early Life and Military Career

Robert Vaughan was born in 1937 in Morley, Missouri, and raised in Sikeston, Missouri. His father served in the military. Robert followed in his father’s tracks in the late 1950s, entering Army Aviation. 

He served a distinguished career in the US Army as a soldier for 23 years. He had tours in Korea and Germany and three combat tours in Vietnam.

Vaughan would participate in the atmospheric nuclear bomb tests in 1957.

He engaged in the civil-rights deployment of James Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi. Vaughan was stationed to Homestead AFB as part of the potential invasion force during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Vaughan received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, The Bronze Star, the Air Medal, and other medals.

During his military career, his creative talents came to the forefront. Vaughan wrote training manuals for the US Army and was the recipient of the Most Outstanding Military Writer six times. 

robert vaughan

A Journeyman Author Begins His Travels

Vaughan sold his first book when he was 19. It was a story of the US Army along the DMZ in Korea.

After Vaughan was discharged from the Army, he began his prolific writing career in earnest. He worked in almost every genre.

Sometimes he would publish under his real name, write under a pseudonym, or he would ghostwrite for other authors.

brandywine's war

Paula Fairman & Paula Moore

Under various pen names, including “Paula Moore” and “Paula Fairman,” Vaughan wrote romance novels that were extremely popular at the time they were written.

In 1977 Paula Fairman achieved massive sales with two bodice rippers, Forbidden Destiny and In Savage Splendor.

The books sold millions of copies for Pinnacle, who published many successful historical romances in the 1970s.

When Paul Fairman–the real Paula–passed away late that year, he left behind one unfinished manuscript. Robert Vaughan stepped in to continue writing as Paula Fairman.

He wrote a dozen more Paula Fairman bestsellers from 1978 to 1991.

southern ros solie

Some of those books would be republished in the 21st century under the name Fancy Dewitt.

As Paula Moore, Vaughan also authored historical, contemporary, and Gothic romances.

Patricia Matthews

Patricia Matthews was another best-selling Pinnacle author. The publisher even labeled her as “America’s First Lady of Historical Romance.” Matthews earned many awards, and her books sold millions of copies.

Patricia Matthews was–ostensibly–the working name of the husband and wife team, Patricia Klein Ernst Brisco Matthews & Clayton Matthews. Patricia also wrote under the pseudonyms of P.A. Brisco, Patty Brisco, Pat A. Brisco, Pat Brisco, Laura Wylie, and Denise Matthews with a friend.

Clayton passed away in 2004, and Patricia followed him in 2006.

However, Robert Vaughan is on record claiming to be the author of at least two of Matthews’ novels, Love’s Bold Journey (1980) and Love’s Sweet Agony (1980):

“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.

love's bold journey

All the Work, But Little Credit

Vaughan has been candid about being the creator of two dozen bestselling romances from the 1970s into the 1990s, including the aforementioned Matthews novels.

“[T]wenty-three romance novels, writing as Paula Moore, Paula Fairman, and Patricia Matthews, total sales of over fifteen million copies. Two of these romance novels, Love’s Bold Journey and Love’s Sweet Agony, were number one on the NYT and PW bestseller lists.”  


As a journeyman ghostwriter, Vaughan never owned the rights to those names. As a result, he never received his due acclaim for his success.

Other Works of Fiction by Robert Vaughan

Among his notable non-romance books are: Survival: A Novel of The Donner Party; Brandywine’s War; The Valkyrie Mandate; The Power and the Pride; Gravedancer; When Honor Dies; and The Broken Covenant.

Vaughan was very proud of his work for the novelization of the television miniseries, Andersonville.

robert vaughan

He won the 1977 Porgie Award (Best Paperback Original) for The Power and the Pride.

powerand the pride vaughan

Sara Luck

He and his wife, Ruth, collaborate on their writing projects. Of course, they write romance!

“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.”


In the 2010s, Robert and Ruth co-wrote nine novels together.

sara luck

Life Today

Vaughan enjoys classical music and loves football, particularly college football. He also enjoys cooking and public speaking and will “accept invitations at the drop of a hat.”

He and his wife split their time living on the Alabama coast, residing in places all over the country, such as Oregon, Wyoming, and Chicago.

For many years Robert Vaughan taught the writing craft to many aspiring authors.

Although Vaughan has retired from the official speaking circuit, he is still active today.

Writing Legacy

A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Vaughan has won many prestigious writing awards. They include the Western Writers of America Spur Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Golden Triangle Writers Club, the Best Novel of the Vietnam War from Canadian University Symposium, and the Porgie Award from West Coast Books.

He was named the Best Military Writer of the Year by Army Aviation Digest for six consecutive years. Vaughan was an on-air Television personality in Portsmouth, VA, and Phoenix, AZ. In addition, he has been a national military consultant for FOX NEWS and CNN.

Robert Vaughan was inducted into the Writers’ Hall of Fame in 1998. His memoir, Random Thoughts of an Old Writer, was released in 2021 by Wolfpack Publishing.

Random Thoughts of an Old Writer

Robert Vaughan Covers

Your Opinion

Are you surprised to learn how prolific and successful a romance writer Robert Vaughan was? Have you read any Robert Vaughan romances?

As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!

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

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