Putney, Mary Jo (M.J. Putney)

views updated

Putney, Mary Jo (M.J. Putney)

PERSONAL:

Born in upstate NY. Education: Syracuse University, B.A., B.I.D.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Baltimore, MD. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Worked as an industrial and graphic designer beginning in 1970.

MEMBER:

Romance Writers of America (RWA), Novelists, Inc., Author's Guild.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Aphra Award for best book of the year, Romance Writers of America Published Author Chapter, for River of Fire; Career Achievement Award, Romantic Times, 1990; Rita Award for best Regency novel, Romance Writers of America, 1991, for The Rake and the Reformer; Rita Award for best long historical novel, Romance Writers of America, 1994, for Dancing on the Wind; Golden Leaf Award (four) for best historical novel, New Jersey Romance Writers, for Uncommon Vows, Dearly Beloved, The Rake and the Reformer, and The Diabolical Baron; Career Achievement Award for historical romance, New Jersey Romance Writers; second Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times, for historical romance.

WRITINGS:

The Diabolical Baron, Signet (New York, NY), 1987, Severn House (New York, NY), 1994, reprinted, Signet (New York, NY), 1999.

Dearly Beloved, Onyx (New York, NY), 1987, reprinted, 2004.

Lady of Fortune, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.

The Controversial Countess, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.

Carousel of Hearts, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.

The Rogue and the Runaway, New American Library (New York, NY), 1990.

The Rake and the Reformer, Onyx (New York, NY), 1991, revised as The Rake, Topaz (New York, NY), 1998.

Silk and Shadows, Onyx (New York, NY), 1991, Signet (New York, NY), 2000.

Uncommon Vows, Onyx (New York, NY), 1991.

Silk and Secrets, Onyx (New York, NY), 1992.

The Would-be Widow, Severn House (New York, NY), 1992, revised as The Bargain, Signet (New York, NY), 1999.

Veils of Silk, Onyx (New York, NY), 1992.

Petals in the Storm, Topaz (New York, NY), 1993.

Thunder and Roses, Topaz (New York, NY), 1993.

Dancing on the Wind, Topaz (New York, NY), 1994.

Angel Rogue, Topaz (New York, NY), 1995.

River of Fire, Signet (New York, NY), 1996.

Shattered Rainbows, Topaz (New York, NY), 1996.

One Perfect Rose, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1997.

The Wild Child, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1999.

The Burning Point, Berkley (New York, NY), 2000.

The China Bride, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2000.

Arco Iris Roto, Ediciones Urano (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.

Christmas Revels, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2002.

The Bartered Bride, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2002.

The Spiral Path, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Twist of Fate, Penguin/Jove (New York, NY), 2003.

A Kiss of Fate: A Novel, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(As M.J. Putney) Stolen Magic, Del Rey Books (New York, NY), 2005.

The Marriage Spell: A Novel, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Dangerous to Know, New American Library (New York, NY), 2007.

(With Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, and Karen Harbaugh) Dragon Lovers, (anthology), New American Library (New York, NY), 2007.

A Distant Magic, Del Rey/Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2007.

EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTOR

Faery Magic, Kensington (San Diego, CA), 1998.

Captured Hearts: Five Favorite Love Stories, Penguin (New York, NY), 1999.

Bride by Arrangement, Harlequin (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to numerous anthologies, including A Regency Christmas, Signet (New York, NY), 1991; Promised Brides, Harlequin (New York, NY), 1994; A Regency Christmas Carol: Five Stories, Signet (New York, NY), 1997; A Stockingful of Joy, Onyx (New York, NY), 1997; and In Our Dreams, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1998.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Bartered Bride has been made into an audiobook, Brilliance Audio, 2002. Audiobooks have been made of The Wild Child, The China Bride, The Burning Point, The Spiral Path, Twist of Fate, and A Kiss of Fate: A Novel, all by Recorded Books.

SIDELIGHTS:

Romance novelist Mary Jo Putney specializes in Regency period and Georgian tales featuring complex women characters. Putney told CA: "Romance is a woman's genre, powerful and life affirming. It's a pleasure to write books that not only entertain, but sometimes heal."

Putney's historical romances are generally respected for their strong characterizations, period detail, and solid writing. The winner of two Rita Awards and two lifetime achievement awards from Romantic Times, Putney has become "a favorite of romance fans," to quote Booklist contributor Diana Tixier Herald. As Ann Bouricius noted in another Booklist review, Putney's strengths "are her thoughtfulness and her well-drawn cast of compelling and very human characters."

Most of Putney's novels are set in the Regency period, early nineteenth-century England. This particular era is so popular as a setting for romance novels that it has its own category contests and frequently a separate section on bookstore shelves. In an online interview for All about Romance, Putney explained her own preference for Regencies. "I think the Regency is the most popular time period, as well as my personal favorite, because so many interesting currents cross then," she said. "It was the dawn of the modern age, where revolutions and industrial change were creating the society we recognize now." The author went on to note: "At the same time, the Regency is distant enough to have glamour." Putney's mastery of the period is one reason why so many of her early books remain in print or have been issued in revised editions.

Critics have been generally receptive to Putney's novels. Publishers Weekly reviewer Peggy Kaganoff praised Dearly Beloved's "spice and atmosphere," but suggested that Uncommon Vows relied too heavily on the plot device of amnesia. The same reviewer found 1992's Silk and Secrets too predictable but admired its "spunky, happily flawed heroine." Kaganoff again noted compelling characters in Thunder and Roses but found an "overload of extraneous historical detail." Maria Simson, writing in Publishers Weekly commended River of Fire for its "strong romantic relationship, good writing, and memorable characters." Library Journal correspondent Kristin Ramsdell found The Wild Child to be "another gripping, well-crafted story that readers are sure to request."

In the late 1990s, Putney began writing modern romances, the first of which was The Burning Point. Set in Baltimore and revolving around a demolition company, the novel explores the strained relationship between divorcees who are reunited in an effort to save the business. "This passionate love story unravels gradually, in trademark Putney style," maintained a Publishers Weekly contributor. "The author has created a realistic, well-crafted story, laced with elements of suspense and mystery and featuring sympathetic protagonists."

Putney's second romance novel set in modern times, The Spiral Path, tells of the failing marriage of two actors who are in the process of divorcing. Nevertheless, action hero Kenzie Scott still loves Rainey Marlowe and agrees to star in her directorial debut, which is based on a Victorian novel. Trouble brews anew, however, once Kenzie realizes that the script actually echoes secret parts of his own life, which a reporter is trying to uncover. Meanwhile, Rainey is dealing with some emotional turmoil from her own difficult childhood. When Rainey reluctantly steps into the role of female lead, they turn to each other for consolation from the pressures in their lives. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "handles her potentially melodramatic material with emotional honesty and insight while maintaining the taut romantic tension." Herald, once again writing in Booklist, noted: "Putney proves she's every bit as good writing contemporary romance as she is with historicals."

The Bartered Bride is the third book in a trilogy that also includes The Wild Child and The China Bride. The novel features Gavin Elliott, a ship's captain whose wife and daughter have died, and tells of his growing romance with Alexandra Warren, who is also widowed. Elliott meets Warren as she stands on a slave auction block after being captured by Indonesian pirates. He eventually is allowed to take her back to England after undergoing a series of trials, but the couple's relationship still must undergo further tests of its own as they go from being strangers to a married couple. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Both characters have vivid inner lives and thoroughly imagined personalities." The reviewer went on to call the story and the romance in it "utterly authentic."

In the novel Twist of Fate, Putney tells the story of Val Covington, a corporate attorney who receives a million-dollar windfall and decides to devote her life to justice. Her first case is to defend a death row inmate who is also a former lover of her longtime assistant. Val soon finds herself acting as a surrogate mother to a lonely young girl and becomes romantically attracted to the owner of the office space she rents. The novel follows Val's development and the drastic altered course her life has taken as she overcomes her emotional insecurities. Booklist contributor Herald called the novel a "well-crafted, suspenseful page-turner." Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted that "fans will enjoy her smooth prose and likable cast of characters."

A Kiss of Fate: A Novel is another historical romance by the author and features the romance between Gwynne and Lord Ballister, a Scottish laird. Gwynne is the daughter of a recently deceased Guardian, one of a group of people with magical abilities. A scholar of the group's history, Gwynne ends up marrying Ballister at the request of the Guardians, even though she has had visions linking Ballister with some kind of violence. On their wedding night, their passionate love making reveals that Gwynne is also a Guardian. The love between the two grows as they find that they are equally dedicated to the Guardians, a dedication that requires action on their part when Bonnie Prince Charles attempts to take over the throne. Herald wrote in Booklist that the author is successful at "creating an authentically detailed world." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Putney "does a fine job of weaving magical elements together with actual historical events to create a rich, romantic tapestry." Claudia Moore, writing in the School Library Journal, called the story "an excellent historical romance with a nice touch of fantasy."

Putney continues her Guardian novels with Stolen Magic, released in 2005, and A Distant Magic, in 2007. Stolen Magic features the Guardian bounty hunter Simon Malmain, who is tracking an evil mage gone rogue. In the process, he manages to rescue Meg, the woman destined to be his wife. A Distant Magic is set a few years on, though still in the mid-eighteenth century, and revolves around the slave trade of that era. Nikolai Gregori was sold into slavery when he was just a young homeless boy from Malta, captured by pirates while voyaging to England. Gregori always blamed Macrae of Dunrath, who had been accompanying him on the trip and, despite having discovered the boy had magical abilities, did nothing to save him from his fate. As a grown man, Gregori kidnaps Macrae's daughter, not yet aware that Jean is a Guardian and fated not only to help him, but to marry him as well. In this installment of the series, Putney has her characters traveling through time in order to ensure the end of slavery. Diana Tixier Herald, reviewing for Booklist, remarked that "this tale features admirable characters and a fascinating approach to slavery and the abolition movement." A Publishers Weekly contributor found the book to be a "diverting romantic fantasy."

In addition to her many novels, Putney has penned shorter works as contributions to anthologies, including the novella "The Dragon and the Dark Knight," which appears as part of the collection Dragon Lovers.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 1999, Ann Bouricius, review of The Wild Child, p. 1802; May 1, 2000, Diana Tixier Herald, review of The China Bride, p. 1655; September 15, 2001, review of Dearly Beloved, p. 212; January 1, 2002, Diana Tixier Herald, review of The Spiral Path, p. 823; August, 2003, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Twist of Fate, p. 1966; June 1, 2004, Diana Tixier Herald, review of A Kiss of Fate: A Novel, p. 1711; June 1, 2007, Diana Tixier Herald, review of A Distant Magic, p. 48.

Library Journal, August, 1999, Kristin Ramsdell, review of The Wild Child, p. 72.

Publishers Weekly, January 26, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of Dearly Beloved, p. 412; February 22, 1991, Penny Kaganoff, review of Uncommon Vows, p. 215; June 1, 1992, review of Silk and Secrets, p. 58; April 5, 1993, review of Thunder and Roses, p. 71; March 6, 1995, review of Angel Rogue, p. 68; September 23, 1996, review of River of Fire, p. 74; April 24, 2000, review of The Burning Point, p. 67; July 17, 2000, review of The China Bride, p. 174; December 17, 2001, review of The Spiral Path, p. 70; May 6, 2002, review of The Bartered Bride, p. 37; June 30, 2003, review of Twist of Fate, p. 63; July 5, 2004, review of A Kiss of Fate, p. 38; April 23, 2007, review of A Distant Magic, p. 34.

School Library Journal, November, 2004, Claudia Moore, review of A Kiss of Fate, p. 177.

ONLINE

All about Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/quickie5.html/ (February 26, 2006), interview with Mary Jo Putney.

Mary Jo Putney Home Page,http://www.maryjoputney.com (February 27, 2006).