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Interview & Giveaway: Patricia Gaffney, Putting Characters Through the Wringer for...

Pat Gaffney


Here are the winners of one of the re-released Gaffney titles:   1) Karenmc 2) Vidhya 3) Asia M 4) Evangeline Holland 5) Danielle D 6) Brenda C   7) EmilyW   8) Kathryn 9) TaraR 10) Frekki

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Jennie and I are the original Patricia Gaffney fangirls. Back in 1997, I read my first Gaffney, the brilliant and controversial To Have and to Hold, and proceeded to write its author an embarrassingly long and gushy fan letter. Around about 2001, we were reprimanded for discussing her books too much on the AAR boards. And, I’m not sure I should be relating this — Jennie stop me if I shouldn’t — but in those days, Jennie was fond of referring to Ms. Gaffney (along with Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory) as part of “the Holy Trinity.”

Needless to say, when Jane emailed the two of us to tell us that some of Patricia Gaffney’s historical romances were being reissued electronically, and ask whether we were interested in doing an interview, we leapt on the chance like terriers on a gourmet dog biscuit. (Ms. Gaffney is surely worthy of a classier analogy, but the enthusiasm of a true fan knows little of class).

Here are the questions we came up with, and the author’s answers:

Janine: Open Road has recently reissued six of your historical romances in e format: Fortune’s Lady, Another Eden, Crooked Hearts, Sweet Everlasting, Lily, and Outlaw in Paradise. Are there plans to also reissue Sweet Treason, Thief of Hearts, Wild at Heart and the Wyckerley trilogy, which consists of To Love and to Cherish, To Have and to Hold and Forever and Ever?

Pat: Yes, eventually.

Janine: Any word on when those will be available as ebooks?

Pat: No, not yet. Soon, I hope.

Jennie: Do you miss writing historical romance? If so, what do you miss about it?

Pat: Well, first, I really miss being part of the Holy Trinity.

After that, I miss knowing what I’m doing.

You know there’s an f-word associated with romance. Not “formula”— framework. A romance is a courtship story with a happy ending, so I always knew, before writing a word, that I was going to have a heroine and a hero (vs. “protagonists”), they would fall in love, overcome the obstacles keeping them apart, and live happily ever after. On that framework you can hang a thousand different stories, but underneath them all, there it is, the scaffolding. Steady as a rock.

Now—now I can write anything. I can kill off your favorite character in Chapter 10! I’ve still got a framework, but it’s widened out to “tell a coherent story and try to make it interesting.” Those are really all the rules I have to go by. Which makes the whole enterprise much harder.

Janine: In a video you recently made, you discuss the way a cancer diagnosis gave you the impetus to write your first book, Sweet Treason. What was it that kept you from writing before you got that diagnosis—

Pat: Fear.

Janine: –and how did thinking you might not have long to live affect the way you viewed writing?

Pat: Nothing to lose. Fear (of failure) had kept me from even trying to write, even though it was just about all I’d wanted to do since age 8. Now I was almost out of time, with nothing to show for my life. I was horribly depressed, positive it really was curtains for me. I figured I had about two more years. Might as well go for it, try to write the sort of book I’d been having so much fun reading—historical romance novels.

Jennie: Sweet Treason has a rather controversial rape scene – how do you feel about that today? Do you think you’d write it differently today?

Pat: What can I say? It was the ’80s.

Yes, I’d write it differently now, 25 years later. But readers were different then, too, don’t forget—Sweet Treason won the Golden Heart award. She said defensively.

Janine: Fortune’s Lady was inspired by the Hitchcock movie “Notorious,” which stars Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. What was it about the movie that made you want to write your own version?

Pat: Oh, I love “Notorious,” especially that final scene when Cary Grant finds out evil Claude Rains and his mother have been poisoning Ingrid Bergman. So he rescues her, and they can’t stop kissing long enough to say how much they love each other, and then he carries her down the stairs while evil Claude and his mother watch helplessly as their Nazi cronies close in on them, and then Cary and Ingrid drive away and live happily ever after.

I just moved Fortune’s Lady to the 18th century and pretended it was my idea. The evil villain doesn’t try to poison the heroine, but he does try to hang her.

Janine: It’s been over a decade since I read Thief of Hearts and what I remember is that the hero impersonated the heroine’s husband, the setting was aboard a ship, which made a stop in Italy, and eventually, there was sex in a closet. How am I doing?

Pat: You’re bringing it all back to me. Keep going.

Janine: The setting of this book makes me think about your settings, which were a bit more varied than the Regency, Regency, Regency, Victorian, Regency that we get in today’s historicals. Did you have fun researching those settings, and do you have a favorite?

Pat: Some fun, but I’m not a historian, so I’d eventually get impatient to move along to the writing part. One of the nicest things about book-writing is the balance among the three components, conception, research, and composition. By the time I’d get sick of dreaming up the idea for a book, it was time to research for it, and just when I’d get sick of that, it would be time to write it. Ideal job for the short attention span.

As for the variety of settings, chalk it up to a low boredom threshold. Except for the Wyckerley trilogy, I don’t think I’ve ever set two books in the same time and place. It used to worry me. “Shouldn’t I be trying to get associated with something?” I’d ask my editor, and she’d say, “You’re getting associated with being versatile.”

Favorite setting . . . whenever women’s clothes were the prettiest. So—Regency? No, Gilded Age. I think.

Jennie: Lily was one of my early favorite romances, and still holds a warm place in my heart. Do you feel like a romance like Lily – long and tempestuous, with separations and an ultra-tortured hero – could get published today? Or has romance changed too much?

Pat: I haven’t been keeping up with the market very well lately, so you’d know better than I. Lily is one of my favorites, too, and it was great fun to write. I just kept throwing trouble at that poor girl. (She has a baby in a cave!) Not sure why, but sometimes I really enjoyed making my heroines suffer. Maybe it’s that I knew they were going to win big in the end, and I was looking for balance. Heroine-ly equilibrium.

Janine: Another Eden featured a heroine trapped in an abusive marriage – and the hero was the architect her husband had hired to build their summer house. In Sweet Everlasting the heroine had also been abused – by her stepfather. Though the hero, a doctor, fell in love with her, he wasn’t certain that love could transcend social barrier of class.

There’s some similarity in the themes but these two books also marked a transition for you because Another Eden was your last book for Dorchester under the Leisure imprint and Sweet Everlasting your first book for Penguin under the Topaz imprint. I have always found your Penguin books more sophisticated and wide ranging. Does that have to do with the editors you worked with at these houses or with your development as a writer?

Pat: Must be the latter, because I’ve had fantastic luck with editors from the beginning. Alicia Condon edited my books at Leisure, and I have nothing but warm thoughts and good things to say of her. Her assistant was the wonderful Audrey LaFehr—who moved to Penguin just before I did and became my editor there. Smooth transition: one great editor to another great editor. Lucky me.

Speaking of themes—looking back, I see that class as social barrier is an enormous one in almost all my romances. Class, or some form of mistaken identity—those are the two I came back to again and again.

Janine: Crooked Hearts and Outlaw in Paradise are both humorous westerns with con artist protagonists. Your recent novella, Dear One, in the J.D. Robb headlined anthology The Unquiet, has a “psychic” main character. What is it that appeals to you about con artists?

Pat: And in the anthology before that, The Other Side, my story’s hero was a fake ghost detective. So I guess I do love con artists. The trick is making them likeable in spite of their profession. I think Crooked Hearts works because they’re both con artists, so you never feel one’s being taken by the other. They’re flim-flamming each other simultaneously.

Janine: The heroine trapped in an unhappy marriage was a theme you returned to in To Love and to Cherish but this time your heroine fell in love with her husband’s friend, who, to make matters worse, was a minister. To Love and to Cherish is a book which many consider among the finest books written in the romance genre. Christian Morrell (Christy for short), the hero, is such a sweetheart, and yet for all his innate goodness, he’s more appealing than many romance rakes. What gave you the idea to make a romance hero out of a vicar and how did you pull it off?

Pat: I think what prompted this story was that, in the 20 or so years I’d been reading romance novels, I’d never come across a hero or heroine who gave a moment’s thought to whether sleeping with his/her beloved was a “sin,” in the old-fashioned sense. They had plenty of misgivings, doubts, second thoughts, fears, neuroses, and qualms, but no moral reluctance to hop into bed. As a former Catholic schoolgirl, I found that odd. As if there were an elephant in the room no one was acknowledging.

So, rather than give some poor heroine a religious conscience, which would just be dull, I decided to give one to the hero. And to make it extra hard on him, I put him in the business of morality—a minister. I guess it’s that sadistic streak in me again. At least it’s not gender-specific: I like ’em all to suffer.

Janine: Anne Verlaine, the heroine of To Love and to Cherish, was a cynic and an atheist. I loved the role reversal in this book — that the hero was the trusting innocent, and the heroine was the cynical one. Was it risky to write this type of book in 1995? And looking back on it, why do you think it stands the test of time?

Pat: I think I was starting to get the hang of this writing business, and beginning to feel confident enough to ignore some of the conventions. Anne Verlaine—except for being prettier, smarter, younger, and nicer—is me. I was writing about myself. In first person, even, via her journals. Anne’s journals were the most fun I’d had in writing up to that point, and it was because, turns out, first person is my natural voice. I’ve written three of my five contemporaries in first person since then. In fact, one of them I wrote originally in third, then went back and changed it all to first. (Nightmare.)

Janine: To Have and to Hold is my favorite book in the romance genre, and topped our Top 100 Romance List here at DA. To say that its “hero” is morally ambiguous is perhaps an understatement. Sebastian offers Rachel, a convict released from ten years of imprisonment, the position of his housekeeper, in order to have her at his mercy. I think it can be fairly stated that Sebastian is the villain of the story for half the book. My heart was in my throat during the scene in which Sebastian turns on a dime (I don’t want to give away how and why) and changes the course of his life.

What was it that drew you to make a protagonist out of a true, corrupt rake, and how did you get so many readers to root for him despite his many transgressions against the heroine? What do you think makes his ultimate redemption convincing to so many readers?

Pat: Saintly Christy needed an antidote?

It’s hard to reconstruct all my choices and motivations for that novel, and other people—you and Jennie, for instance—have written about it so eloquently, I feel comparatively inarticulate. Speaking just for myself, what makes Sebastian bearable, even likeable, is that (a) he’s very funny, (b) he’s self-aware and never makes excuses, and most of all, (c) being bad doesn’t make him happy. Oh, and (d) after he reforms he gives Rachel a puppy. What a guy.

One little writerly trick I used, not a very sophisticated one but still effective, I think, was to introduce him first. I could easily have started with Rachel getting out of prison, but I wanted you to imprint on Sebastian and assume he would be your hero. Because I knew he was going to need every bit of stored-up goodwill he could possibly get.

Janine: You “went there” in To Have and to Hold – Sebastian uses Rachel’s dependency on her position in his household to force her to sleep with him, and something that makes him unusual in the genre is that he doesn’t try to make excuses for himself. It’s not a case of mistaken identity. He doesn’t think she’s a slut. He’s not out for revenge. As far as we know, he wasn’t abused as a child. He’s not so overcome with passion that he can’t control himself. Can you speak to why you made this choice with his character?

Pat: I didn’t want him to have any excuses. That would’ve been copping out on his character. Plus I was sick of borderline rapist heroes having all those excuses—your list is excellent. (I used one myself, the old “But I thought she was a prostitute!” in Sweet Treason. ) I think with Sebastian I was testing myself, seeing how far I could go. I remember, during the writing process, repeatedly asking myself, “Are you really going to do that?” And each time the answer was yes. I just kept pushing it, pushing it. It was a little bit perverse, a little bit in your face. It’s a wonder the book worked.

Janine: Rachel was also a fascinating character because of her horrifying experiences in prison. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered another romance heroine like her. Before To Have and to Hold, no other romance had made me so deeply conscious of the inequities inherent in the class system. Reading about the conditions Rachel faced – having her hair shorn, being given a number in place of her name, being forbidden to look at or even smile at other inmates – horrified me and made me angry. She’s probably my favorite heroine in the genre so I’m curious about how she came to be and why you chose this background for her.

Pat: Thank you. It’s true, Victorian prison conditions were utterly appalling, beyond “Dickensian,” completely barbaric. And my research was accurate, I didn’t exaggerate anything. If she’d been a man, or a woman in some prison other than Dartmoor, Rachel might have had to climb on a treadmill. A treadmill. The mind reels. Why did I choose that background for her? Same reason I made Lily give birth in a flooding cave, or made Cass almost die from hanging in Fortune’s Lady. The worse the better! It raises the stakes, it puts the reader on the edge of her seat, it conflicts your characters within an inch of their lives. It’s fun.

And Sebastian needed an opposite number as unlike him as I could think up. Again—balance. Powerful and powerless; decadent and pure. Rachel had to be helpless, “erased,” reduced to a figure of her own basic survival, in order to make her final “victory” over Sebastian, if you will (and that works if you’re right and he’s actually the villain for the first half of the story), succeed in narrative terms.

Janine: Forever and Ever had a heroine who was a mine owner and a hero who was a union organizer. What started out as a clash over mining conditions grew into a romance. You also dealt with miscarriage and depression in this book. Are those subjects as heart wrenching to write about as they are to read about?

Pat: Not at all. As you may have gathered by now, I enjoy putting my characters through the wringer.

But if I had to do it again, I think I’d let Sophie Deene keep her baby. Why did I make her have a miscarriage? That was so terribly sad. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Which I’m not ashamed to say, because isn’t that phrase, “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” almost the definition of growth?

Janine: Before I close the subject of the Wyckerley trilogy I want to ask about William Holyoake, the secondary character whose story is woven throughout the three books. I loved William! And I thought it was wonderful to see a bailiff get such a significant role in the story. Was the triangle between William, Sidony, and Jack something you’d planned on from the beginning of To Love and to Cherish? Because I have to tell you, by Forever and Ever, I was completely in William’s corner.

Pat: I know, he was lovely. I modeled him on one of my favorite characters in fiction, Gabriel Oak in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. I like his stalwart patience, his steady intelligence, and under all that, his passion. Gabriel gets the girl in the end—and, yes, I planned from the beginning for William to get Sidony. They had some rough sailing before their happy ending—but hey, that’s my job.

Jennie: I once read that you wrote Wild at Heart in part in response to Alice Hoffman’s Second Nature, not liking the lack of HEA in Hoffman’s book. Since moving into a genre where more ambiguous endings are the norm, have your feelings about the HEA changed?

Pat: Such interesting questions.

No, I still love the HEA. All of my women’s fiction novels have, if not 100% delirious, at least extremely upbeat endings. Still, a part of me worries that that’s not very grown-up. Real grownups read books with “realistic” endings. There’s a new play out with the fun title Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies. Yes, that’s the most realistic ending for a book I can think of, but would I want to read it? Not much.

But that doesn’t stop me from making fun of my friends who have to read the last page of any book they’re considering buying lest, God forbid, they should get depressed. I make fun of them, and yet—I feel the same way. Right now I’m looking at a newspaper article on “50 Notable Works of Fiction” for 2011. Here’s a novel about abused children. This one, about Hurricane Katrina, “evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy.” This one is “a harrowing portrait of men at war.” Here’s another one about abusive priests. This book’s “sad heart” is about a couple whose lives unravel after the loss of their infant son. This one is “Savage with a soupcon of tenderness.” I think I’d rather read one that’s tender with a soupcon of savagery. If that.

All of which is to say, I’m still that same ultra-sensitive—okay, cowardly—Gentle Reader who wanted to fix Alice Hoffman’s book. (I mean, really. Have you read Second Nature? What a horrible ending.) So as a writer, one of my responsibilities is to create stories whose satisfying endings are, in their own contexts, deserved, believable, and just right.

Jennie: Do you have a favorite among your historical romances?

Pat: To Love and to Cherish.

Jennie: Why?

Pat: I just had it all going on.

Jennie: You are best known for your women’s fiction novels, including the bestselling The Saving Graces. Do you approach writing women’s fiction differently than you did writing romances? What are the differences?

Pat: I’ve talked about the absence of the romance “framework” making mainstream fiction harder to write. That’s the downside. The upside is the broader range of stories I can tell. I can write a whole book about mothers and daughters (say), or friendship, and even though I’ll probably include a romantic relationship or two, simply because that’s life—there is such a thing as romance, after all; it’s not just a fantasy!—I don’t have to make it the book’s focus. Unless I want to. So that’s freeing.

Otherwise, no, I don’t approach the two kinds of stories differently. That surprised me at first, finding out that a book is a book. They’ve all got beginnings, middles, and ends; they all need compelling characters and smart pacing, plenty of conflict, and themes people care about.

Jennie and Janine: What are your favorite books? Who are your favorite authors/literary influences?

Pat: Recent favorite books—I loved Room by Emma Donoghue. Loved The Help. Anything by Alice Munro, the best short story writer in the world, IMNSHO. Elizabeth Stroud’s Olive Kittredge. Anything by Ann Patchett. Jane Smiley’s The Age of Grief. The Master, by Colm Toibin.

Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy were my literary influences when I wrote historical romances.

Jennie: Had you stayed in romance, can you see yourself following some of the trends now proliferating – e.g. paranormal, vampire, steampunk?

Pat: Paranormal’s never been exactly my cuppa (all my characters in Nora’s paranormal anthologies are faking it), but I can certainly understand the appeal. Steampunk is pretty cool. Maybe I’ll start a new subgenre: geriatric steampunk.

Jennie: Are there other genres you’d like to explore?

Pat: I’d like to write a murder mystery.

Jennie: How much do you consider saleability when you are deciding what to write?

Pat: Honestly, not at all. Writing’s hard enough, even when it’s your passion. If I threw money into the mix, I’d be paralyzed.

Janine: Would you ever consider writing historical romance again? And would it help if we offered to come to your house and do your chores?

Pat: What I really need is dog walkers. Let’s talk.


Dear Author would like to introduce new readers to a classic author.  To that end, we’ll gift 10 readers a digital copy (either from BN, Kobo or Kindle) of Patricia Gaffney’s digital re-releases: Fortune’s Lady, Another Eden, Crooked Hearts, Sweet Everlasting, Lily, and Outlaw in Paradise.  Just drop a comment in the comment box.  You can find out more about her books at

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.


  1. Patricia
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:18:10

    There are books that you read and forget 10 minutes later and there are books that you read and never forget. To Have and to Hold is in the latter category. I have been looking to replace my copy that I lost in a move and I will be buying a digital copy when it is available.

  2. Donna
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:19:27

    THATH is the single most powerful romance I’ve ever read–and it’s because Gaffney never pulls her punches. The storytelling really goes for the throat. Hurrah for an e-edition! My battered paperback has seen better days.

  3. Nicole
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:21:24

    I love to read about an author who can look back at her books and appreciate them for what they were, instead of gnashing her teeth and apologizing for differences in tastes and standards. I have no interest in reading a rapetastic book, but I found it fascinating to hear “it was the 80s” as an explanation. Did you see the clothes that people wore then? Enough said.

  4. Jayne
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:29:57

    “Outlaw in Paradise” was one of the first romance books I read when I got back into the genre. People looking for a nice Western, which really are hard to find now, should check it out.

  5. EmilyW
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:46:03

    Great interview! I’ve yet to read Gaffney but have one of her books in my TBR. I think my hesitation in reading her is knowing I’ll love the books, read them all, and then realize there’s none left. The tragedy of being a reader… ;)

  6. Brenda C
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:50:43

    I regret to say I’ve never read Patricia Gaffney. Good to know her books are being digitalized, makes it easier to get my hands on a copy :)

  7. Jen G.
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:06:24

    I just went and added the Wyckerley trilogy to my TBR list :-)

  8. Karenmc
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:08:25

    THATH managed to leave me feeling battered and uplifted at the same time. What a great, great book. Crooked Hearts had me snorting with laughter. I’m SO pleased to hear that the historicals will be available for everyone’s e-reading pleasure (some books you just want to be able to carry around with you at all times).

  9. Darlynne
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:16:21

    What a great conversation. Thank you so much for introducing me to Ms. Gaffney and her books. I’ve never read any of them and look forward to learning more about her new-to-me world.

  10. TaraR
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:23:40

    To Have and to Hold wrung me out, in the best way possible. One of my most favorite books. Great interview and giveaway.

  11. Elyssa
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:26:55

    This is a fabulous interview. I went through a Gaffney glom a few years back after reading and loving WILD AT HEART (a commenter, whose reading taste were somewhat similar to mine, had talked about WAH on a now-defunct forum and I immediately ordered it). I love TO HAVE AND TO HOLD and how Patricia Gaffney went there–especially since I would think, she’s not going to go there, is she? immediately followed by, yes, yes she did. But I’m totally going to have to reread TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH now…hopefully I didn’t lose my copy. *crosses fingers*

    And I’m really excited that her books will be available digitally!

  12. Jennifer M (OR)
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:36:55

    I’ve never read Ms. Gaffney before but it sounds like I’ve been missing out and I will have to rectify that. I’m glad they are going to be available digitally.

  13. Danielle D
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:47:57

    OMG, I love her books and the books that I have by her are all on my keeper shelf. Love the interview.

  14. Diane Mc.
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:53:37

    Making a list of what I need to read.

  15. Janine
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:54:41

    @Elyssa: Wild at Heart is a huge favorite of mine too. I can’t wait for it to be reissued, to say nothing of To Have and to Hold. I could have easily asked more questions about the Wyckerley trilogy but I didn’t want to be too greedy since we hit Gaffney with so many questions and at such a busy time of year.

  16. Laura P
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 10:56:32

    I love historical romances and look forward to reading Gaffney’s books. I read mostly on my Kindle now; so I’m glad to see so many older books re-released electronically.

  17. Robin Bayne
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:03:01

    Pat’s early books were among some of the first historical romances I ever read, and I loved them all.

  18. Christine Rimmer
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:06:17

    Oh, this was fabulous. Thank you, Janine–and Patricia Gaffney. Heading for Amazon to buy me some Gaffney historicals. Yum!

  19. Janine
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:13:16

    @Christine Rimmer: You’re welcome, so glad you and others enjoyed it — and half the questions were Jennie’s, so I can’t take all the credit for them. I think Pat Gaffney had the hardest part of all though!

  20. LSUReader
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:14:31

    Thank you for such an interesting interview. I’m still fairly new to historical romance(3-4 years) and I can see I have a lot of catching up to do! I appreciate these new-but-old adds to my TBR list.

  21. Connie M.
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:16:54

    How have I managed to never read a Patricia Gaffney book? I’m so looking forward to this new-to-me author.

  22. rhonda lomazow
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:38:49

    Ilove her books!!

  23. Lynn S.
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:39:39

    Reprimanded at the AAR boards? And all this time I thought Jane was the dangerous one in these parts. Then I make the mistake of reading the rest of the interview and want all her books, not just the Wyckerley Trilogy that is already in my TBR stack. Troublemakers.

  24. erinf1
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 11:59:14

    Thanks for such a lovely interview! I haven’t read Ms. Gaffey and like someone else mentioned, I feel that I’m missing out :)

    Happy Holidays everyone and thanks so much for the giveaway!

  25. Kim
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 12:17:29

    Thanks for the giveaway. I don’t think I’ve read any of Ms. Gaffney’s books.

  26. Meri
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 12:21:28

    What a fantastic interview, both the questions and the answers. I’m so glad that Ms. Gaffney’s books are being reissued (had I known this would happen, I’d have passed on the used copy of Lily and waited for the e-book).

  27. Collette
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 12:35:23

    Great interview–I think I just read one of her books (but I read a lot and can never remember titles–nice, huh?) and liked it. I’d love to read more. I’ll have to check out the digital copies (and I just put 2 on hold at the library).

  28. Lorenda Christensen
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 13:21:47

    This is me squeeing for joy. EGaffney!

  29. RLJ
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 13:31:09

    Excellent interview. It’s refreshing to read an author speak candidly about her stories.

  30. Frekki
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 13:46:48

    Thanks for this interview. I love Patricia Gaffney’s historical romances, and have them all still on my keeper shelf, which is actually a stack of boxes in the basement. I’d love to get the ebook releases, but they’re priced too high, so I’m going to go dig the paperbacks out of their boxes instead for a re-read.

    To Have and to Hold would rank pretty high on my list of all-time favorite romances too, because she doesn’t make any excuses for Sebastian.

  31. Beverly
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 13:47:06

    Thanks so much for this wonderful interview with a truly great author. To Have and to Hold and To Love and to Cherish are among my favorite romances. And she is one of the few authors who I’ve followed to more mainstream fiction. I really enjoyed Flight Lessons and The Goodbye Summer, which aren’t at all the types of book I normally read.

  32. HollyY
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 13:48:20

    I don’t think I’ve read Patricia Gaffney before, but these sound like some really entertaining reads. Thanks for this insightful interview with the author. Great job!

  33. Kerry
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 14:00:29

    I’ve never read any of her books, but she sounds really interesting and I liked the interview a lot. I’ll have to check out some of her work.

  34. maered
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 14:07:26

    Great interview. Really want to read To have and To Hold now.

  35. Asia M
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 14:19:07

    I know Patricia Gaffney’s name, but I must say I never read any of her books. This interview really made me want to change that… And I appreciated her candidness in the interview as well.

  36. meoskop
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 14:27:03

    All these people who have never read Gaffney make me sad. Sad because they have some excellent reading to do. I have to wait for fresh books.

  37. Estara
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 14:34:34

    Wild at Heart is my one true Gaffney love – lovely to know that I’ll be able to get it in e soon.

  38. jennifield
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 14:36:07

    Thank you, thank you for this wonderful interview. So great to hear from an author who has given me so many hours of bliss. Totally made my day. This and hearing about the re-releases.

    I moved about a zillion times after college and through grad school, took a long hiatus from reading romance, lived in a 400 square foot house for seven years with only one small bookcase, and through it all I kept only a few romances, some Heyer, some Austen and To Love and to Cherish.

    I’m a little freaked out because I’m realizing that there are a few books on the newly released list that I don’t think I’ve ever read…must go check!

    And can I just say how much I love that scene from Notorious–with the ultra tight close-up of those two gorgeous faces and the throb in Ingrid Bergman’s voice… Makes my heart beat fast thinking about it.

  39. msaggie
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 15:17:55

    Thanks to Janine and Jennie for sharing this wonderful and informative interview with one of my favourite authors. I was introduced to Patricia Gaffney’s books from reading posts on AAR, and remember all those posts on their messageboards – but I can’t remember the reprimands for discussing her books too much. I remember the huge controversy about Sebastian’s treatment of Rachel initially in To Have and To Hold. It is deservedly No.1 in DA’s top romances. However, in today’s market where all the wallpaper historicals and recurrent identical fake-regencies sell so well they are being recycled again and again, I wonder if the poll for top romances was held again in, say, 10 years’ time, we would have one of those as No. 1?

    So, is Patricia Gaffney seriously thinking about writing historical romances again after your persuasions? Which among her more recent women’s fiction books are your favourites, and why? I confess I have not read any of her women’s fiction yet.

  40. Janine
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 16:17:57

    @msaggie: I don’t know if you were there at the time of that AAR incident. It was ages ago. There was a complaint that too many of the posts were about the same books and authors, which snowballed into a big brouhaha that resulted in LLB posting the Netiquette rules. A bunch of people (including one AAR reviewer) left AAR over it. I took that incident philosophically and perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it in my intro, but I wanted to get across the degree of the fandom at that time. We were a little obsessive in dissecting some of those books. I absolutely had a great time on those boards in those days and am grateful to this day that I had a place to talk to other romance readers (not an easy thing to come by back then).

    I have no idea if Patricia Gaffney is thinking about writing historical romances again, but one of my dreams would come true if she ever did return to the genre. Her women’s fiction is quite good, but as I’m not nearly as drawn to that genre, I’ve only read three of those books — The Saving Graces, Circle of Three and Mad Dash. Of these, I liked Circle of Three best. I think The Saving Graces was the most popular with readers. More recently Gaffney has also written three novellas in J.D. Robb headlined anthologies. I’m partway through “Dear One” at the moment and enjoying it, but haven’t read the other two.

  41. Merrian
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 16:55:39

    I missed a lot of these stories the first time around and would love to read them now. Thanks for the interview.

  42. MarieC
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 17:07:43

    Wow! great interview! flash from the past (geez, do I feel old)!

    I’m still giggling over ‘geriatric steampunk’!

  43. cleo
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 17:37:45

    What a great interview. I haven’t read any of her books yet. I think I will try one.

  44. Lynz
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 18:12:25

    I lucked out and managed to find a copy of To Have and To Hold one glorious, wonderful day – it’s in my top five books of all time, not just romances – but I’ve yet to find a copy of Crooked Hearts, so I’m thrilled that I’ll soon be able to buy it! I read a summary of the opening somewhere, sometime, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

  45. Janine
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 18:37:47

    @Lynz: Crooked Hearts has a great opening line (quoting from memory): “Sister Mary Augustine’s little silver derringer was cutting into her thigh.”

  46. Kathryn
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:39:07

    Great questions that led to one of the most enjoyable author interviews I’ve seen. DA postings got me to read THATH a few years back, to my great delight. But I’m with Gaffney – To Love and To Cherish is my favorite. Approachable books about struggles of faith and one’s own boundaries on morality are so rare. Thanks for reminding me of this treasure.

  47. Leah Ashton
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:46:07

    Wonderful interview! I have Crooked Hearts, Lily and Wild at Heart on my keeper shelf, but somehow I’ve never read To Have & To Hold! How is that possible?

  48. Alyson H
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:48:40

    My first or second RWA chapter meeting ever featured Patricia Gaffney and Jenny Crusie together. I will sheepishly admit I didn’t know them, I was such a newbie. But even in my ignorance, I knew I’d stumbled into something special, and I still count that day as a treasure. Pat is as hilarious and smart and authentic as I remember, and this interview was a joy. Thanks, Pat, Jennie, and Janine!

  49. 3beans
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 20:15:05

    I have to tell you that since my recent discovery of this site I have added waaay too many books to my TBR pile. And it looks like I have a whole Gaffney backlist to add.

  50. Ducky
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 20:27:18

    I remember reading THATH for the first time. How I hated Sebastian Verlaine. How I loved him. How he bothered me.

  51. Tabs
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 21:09:39

    Ooh, I’m really excited about the digital re-releases. I’ve enjoyed both the contemporary fiction and historical romances by Gaffney that I’ve read.

    I especially love how she pulls off plots that just shouldn’t work at all. Non-excused rape? Check. Man literally raised by wolves? Check. Awesome.

  52. SeaGrace
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 21:49:01

    I’m pretty sure Lily was my first Pat Gaffney book, read many years ago. I immediately glommed her entire backlist and they are all on my keeper shelf.

  53. Kaetrin
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 22:15:59

    I’ve read To Have and To Hold (which I really liked) and Wild at Heart but haven’t read any other of Gaffney’s books. It’s good news indeed that the Wyckerley series will (eventually) be released electronically – I had to borrow THATH from the library and no-one seems to have had the other two books. :(

    Please count me in. I’d love to try another of her historical romances.

    thx ladies for a fascinating interview! :D

  54. Laurie Douglas
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 22:19:56

    Great interview, and I’m so glad to see some of the authors I’ve been reading for years writing and still be appreciated. I loved her stories back then, and love them today. Thanks so much for reintroducing us and reminding me why I loved her books so much. Must go reread them now…

  55. Laura Lee Bayne
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 23:38:12

    Thanks for the interview! I am going to see if I can find a copy of _To Have and To Hold_ right now. :)

  56. Jennie
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 23:51:38

    From the interview:

    Yes, I’d write it differently now, 25 years later. But readers were different then, too, don’t forget—Sweet Treason won the Golden Heart award. She said defensively.

    Just to expand on that, I will say that I really liked Sweet Treason. And the rape worked for me (in a fictional context, obviously), because she gets her revenge, and it’s a serious, big revenge. The whole book is over the top and I can see why some people might find the h/h unlikable, but one thing I really liked about it was that they are equal in treating each other badly. I love angst, but I hate it when one character dishes it out and the other one just takes it. At a certain point, there’s not enough groveling in the world to make up for that.

    Similarly, I can handle Devon’s many misdeeds in Lily because in the end he makes a huge, HUGE sacrifice for her. He gives up something that means almost everything to him, and he does it sincerely, because he knows he has wronged her. That was just one of the things that made me love, love, love that book.

    BTW, I will be rereading some of the Gaffney backlist and posting reviews. Lily is first up.

  57. willaful
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 00:05:21

    Ms. Gaffney, if you’re reading this — I’m so loving seeing you writing romances again in the anthologies, and was wondering, was “Dear One” inspired by “The Shop Around the Corner” at all?

  58. Selene
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 01:12:14

    Oooh, wonderful news! Can’t wait for To Have and to Hold to be re-released as e-book. Please, please, please, have it copy-edited properly, or it will break my heart!

    I just read the e-book version of Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Philips, and it was so obvious that it had been scanned from paper and then not copy-edited properly. The book is littered with “f” instead of “r” (like “hef” instead of “her”), “i” instead of “l” (the memorable “Ail-American” comes to mind), and even “o” replaced with “d” or “p”. And for this I paid 5.99$?


  59. MaryK
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 01:58:00

    Sadly, I have read Second Nature. I wasn’t pleased. All that, and this is the ending I get? Bah, humbug! That book and Juniper Time strongly influenced my dedication to HEA only books. I don’t exactly end-peek, but I require HEA confirmation.

    I really enjoyed Wild at Heart, and I’m in the “it worked for me” camp on To Have and to Hold. They’re the only two Gaffneys I’ve read for some reason though I’ve never gotten around to any of the Ivorys, so . . .

  60. Lorraine from CA
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 03:10:56

    I haven’t read any Patricia Gaffney books. I have the Wyckerly trilogy in my paper TBR pile. I’d love to win some digital copies of her work!. Thanks for the lovely interview and giveaway.

  61. Rosie
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 05:57:53

    I’m excited that her books are being released in ebook format! I’ve always been curious about the Wyckerley trilogy, but never gotten my hands on copies. I’ve only read Ms. Gaffney’s Wild at Heart, so far, but I definitely plan to catch up on her backlist. Winning them would be terrific.

  62. Evangeline Holland
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 06:09:48

    While I did enjoy the experience of reading To Have and To Hold, I just can’t get over the motives of “villain” enough to root for the h/h. Their plight completely overshadowed the book because their past was just so horrific and painful, I was a bit angry that they were the Big Bad of the story. However, I do love, love, love To Love and To Cherish and Forever and Ever, and count Crooked Hearts as my favorite Gaffney title.

    On a more general note, I am struck by the questions about marketable/sellability. It’s something I’ve seen in a lot of romance sites/blogs during interviews with veteran romance authors, and it leads me to speculate that the “Golden Age” of romance glittered so because the genre was relaxed and free. Books like To Have and To Hold or Cuevas’s Bliss, among many, many others, were written in the spirit of adventure so to speak, and nurtured by an industry and readers hungry for good stories, not just books based in certain parameters.

    Hence, a reader wouldn’t care if their favorite author added supernatural elements to a romantic suspense, or wrote one book in 1859 China and the next in 1126 England, or wrote a book whose first half comprised solely of letters between the h/h! I don’t romanticize the “Golden Age,” since I’ve read a number of turkeys from back then, but I do believe there is a definite reason why those sort of books not only would not be considered marketable/sellable today, but probably wouldn’t even be written at all!

    But thank you Jennie and Janine for such an interesting interview with Patricia Gaffney. Her voice and storytelling are missed in the genre, and I hope she does get a dose of inspiration to try one more romance novel.

  63. Vidhya
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 06:58:01

    I have to confess that I’ve never read Gaffney before. Though after the DA Top Ten, it has been on my TBR for a long, long while. And I’ve been hearing about THATH for a long, long time. But, I have to read the first before proceeding to the second. Is TLATC a good place to start Gaffney?

  64. Maili
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 07:35:41

    @Evangeline Holland:

    Her voice and storytelling are missed in the genre, and I hope she does get a dose of inspiration to try one more romance novel.


    (Yes, I’m receiving a phone call from the 1990s who wants that word back.)

    Edited: Please don’t count me in for this giveaway. Thanks.

  65. Dee Feagin
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 08:21:40

    I rarely read author interviews mainly because I am more interested in the books rather than the writers, but this interview has shown me that I am missing out on a part of the enjoyment of a book by ignoring the writer’s personality/motivation/background..etc. Color me reformed. I already know Ms Gaffney. To Have and To Hold is one of my favs and worthy of a reread or three.

  66. Janine
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 09:08:42

    @Vidhya: I think TLATC is an excellent place to start, keeping in mind that THATH is very different from it. She’s a very versatile author.

  67. Lizzie R.
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 09:21:16

    I read a review of THATH that peaked my interest and managed to find a used copy on Abebooks for about 2 pounds which still worked out to about 5 or 6 euros with postage but it was totally worth it and I actually managed to track down the rest of the trilogy which now resides in my keeper shelf. Absolutely lovely trilogy. Fantastic to know that her back list will be available in ebook format.

  68. Victoria Zumbrum
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 11:45:39

  69. JenM
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 12:30:49

    I love morally ambiguous lead characters, so after hearing so much about THATH, I finally read it last summer. My impression is that these days, the genre seems much more rigid than it used to be and a book like this would not only have a hard time being published today, but many readers would condemn it out of hand because Sebastian is just a bit too “villainy” for today’s PC tastes. I was a teenager in the 1970’s and was raised on bodice rippers, so I had no problem at all with it. Thanks for a great interview, I’d love to win more of Patricia’s books.

  70. Lennette Daniels
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 15:59:58

    This was a wonderful interview. I would love to read her books.

  71. Ducky
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 16:58:21


    The thing about THATH’s Sebastian is though that he – even at his worst – isn’t a typical romance villain. During the first half of the book he isn’t so much “villainous” as decadent and morally corrupt. And for all his sins towards Rachel he does help her even in the early going – without really intending altruism of course. Without Sebastian’s dubious “attention” there is a good chance Rachel would have remained an emotionally dead woman for the rest of her life.

  72. Zara
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 19:06:20

    Dear Janine and Ms. Gaffney:

    Thank you! This interview, and the news your books are going digital, made me happy.


  73. Turtle
    Dec 23, 2011 @ 10:34:01

    I have never read any of Patricia Gaffney’s books. Thank you for giving me a new author to discover ! Great interview !

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