Tag Archives: Sex and gender

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.”


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)


  • Felicia AndrewsCharles Grant


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • Lee Jackson – Donald Bain


  • Madeleine KerMarius Gabriel Cipolla


  • 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


  • 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


  • Christina NicholsonChristopher Nicole


  • Beatrice ParkerTom E. Huff


  • 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


  • 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



  • 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







love cherish me brandewyne

Why Read Romance? The Hero, Heroine, or Love Story?

why read romance

Why Do You Read Romance?

When you read a romance novel, what are you reading it for? Why do you read romance? Is it for the heroine’s journey? The hunky hero? Or something else entirely? We’ve talked about our personal journeys in romance. What about yours?

The Placeholder Reader

Recently, I came upon a quote by author Laura Kinsale. Rather than add it to the Kathleen E. Woodiwiss page, I thought it would make for a good conversation piece. In her essay “The Androgynous Reader” in Jayne Ann Krentz’ book, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, Kinsale cites the heroine of K.E.W.’s Shanna as proof that the average romance reader does not identify with the heroine, but rather, s/he imagines her as a placeholder for themselves to be with the hero, for:

“[A] sillier and more wrongheaded heroine than Shanna would be difficult to imagine… Feminists need not tremble for the reader–she does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of either a stupidly submissive or an irksomely independent heroine. The reader thinks about what she would have done in the heroine’s place.”

LAURA KINSALE, “The Androgynous Reader” from Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz

I agree and disagree with Kinsale’s assessment. As a woman, I do not internalize a foolish heroine’s poor decision-making. When it comes to reading romance, unless feminism is an explicit theme of the book, that topic doesn’t enter into how I judge the story. A stupid main character is a stupid main character regardless of their sex.

Is Kinsale claiming that a “blank slate” heroine is all readers need because they want to self-insert themselves into the story, fantasizing they are the object of the hero’s affections? That it’s easy to overlook the antics of a TSTL (too-stupid-to-live) heroine because ultimately it’s the hero who makes the book worth it?

Why Do Read I Romance?

It’s a cause for introspection. When I come upon a female MC (main character) who is “irksomely independent” or “stupidly submissive,” I hope that she changes for the better as the novel proceeds. If a love story is goofy and silly, I can accept a goofy and silly heroine AND hero.

I looked at my Goodreads shelves to see how I judge heroes and heroines differently. I picked fourteen shelves, one dedicated to each sex, and counted the net positive rankings. It seems that I examine the hero more harshly and admire heroines more than their male counterparts. However, there are no masculine equivalents for these shelves castigating females: heroine-so-perfect-she-farts-potpourri ‎(16); heroine-dumb-dumb-dumb ‎(22); heroine-feisty-in-a-bad-way ‎(18). Still, heroines come out on top. 😉

hero-deserves-a-better-heroine ‎(4)heroine-deserves-a-better-hero ‎(9)HEROINE (+5)
hero-greatest-hall-of-fame ‎(10)heroine-greatest-hall-of-fame ‎(14)HEROINE (+4)
hero-love-him ‎(28)heroine-love-her ‎(44)HEROINE (+16)
hero-needs-to-grow-the-beep-up ‎(18)heroine-should-grow-the-beep-up ‎(11)HEROINE (+7)
hero-loser ‎(27)heroine-loser ‎(5)HEROINE (+22)
hero-jerky-pig-hall-of-fame ‎(17)heroine-jerky-sow-hall-of-fame ‎(1)HEROINE (+18)
hero-hate-him ‎(37)heroine-hate-her ‎(32)HEROINE (+5)
On the left are the heroes’ shelves, in the middle are the heroines’, & on the right are the net positives.

The female protagonist doesn’t need to be a super-strong woman, or the very best at what she does, or even someone I like. Simply put, I need a heroine I can respect. That’s all. If she’s absolutely horrid, but the hero is swoon-worthy like in Highland Velvet then it depends on the writer selling me the plot.

Holding Out for a Hero

Kinsale argues that Romance readers want to see less of the heroine and more of the hero. They want to be inside his head, feeling his emotional upheaval as he falls in love. He is the object of the readers’ desire, not the heroine.

Her argument has merit. Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women was published in 1992. Romance has changed immensely through the years regarding how heroes express themselves. In the past, there was little, if any, head-hopping into his thoughts. The hero was inscrutable and stoic. At most, we felt his frustration or desire for the heroine. “I love you”s were not revealed mid-story but in the last few chapters or pages.

In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, the genre grew to show both perspectives. Rere was the book told only from the hero’s point-of-view (third-person omniscient, of course). Today there are a plethora of romances told strictly from the hero’s 1st-person-POV. If a book is written from the heroine’s side and sells well, expect a sequel that tells the same story from the hero’s POV.

The Universal Tale

I know straight men who read romance—gay men and lesbian women too. Not everyone who reads Romance does so out of wish fulfillment. Sometimes folks are just looking for engaging stories, which happen to be Romance. When looking for a cozy detective mystery or an alien-packed space opera, I’m not searching to find myself, but for an escapist adventure. It doesn’t matter who the characters are, so long as they engage me. Then again, some people appreciate an MC who is relatable, which enhances their reading pleasure.

Books are so very private yet wonderfully universal to experience. There’s no right or wrong in the way we enjoy or take part in them. It’s ok to judge or not to judge the characters or the plots, so long as we don’t judge each other as readers. Fiction is an alternate reality that can mean so many things to different people. There are multitudes of worlds for us all to experience in unique and deeply personal ways and we have authors to thank for that. (And editors, don’t forget editors. I wish I had one.)

Do you read Romance for the fantasy of being desired by the hero or of being the hero in pursuit? Is neither more important, and you enjoy the overall love story, the plot, or the character development? Or is it the sex, be it the anticipation or the consummation? There are no condemnations here; we do this for the shared fun! Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance!