Obituary: Janet Dailey / Romance author of international best-selling books

May 21, 1944 - Dec. 14, 2013

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Janet Dailey, a romance writer who featured everyday women in bodice-rippers that provided lusty escape for hundreds of millions of readers and made her one of the best-known authors of her genre, died Dec. 14 at her home in Branson, Mo. She was 69.

Her stepdaughter, Linda Scheibe, confirmed the death and said she did not know the cause.

Ms. Dailey was described over the years as the best-selling female writer in America. According to various estimates, she enforced a writing quota of 10 pages per day to produce novels at a rate of about one per month, with an occasional work knocked out in just over a week and others taking longer.

The covers of her books featured chiseled or bare-chested men, lushly romantic portraits of feminine beauty and evocative scenes from secluded locales. Titles included “The Mating Season,” “The Bride of the Delta Queen,” “The Widow and the Wastrel,” “Separate Cabins,” “Terms of Surrender” and “Touch the Wind.” Ms. Dailey’s final book, “Merry Christmas, Cowboy,” came out in September.

The appeal of romance, as recounted by Ms. Dailey, also spanned national boundaries. In 1986, the Chicago Tribune reported that her books sold in 90 countries at an estimated rate of 43,000 per day. Promotional items included sweatshirts with the phrase “Love Is a Dailey Affair.”

She distinguished herself from some other writers of her genre by placing at the center of her stories ordinary women — women, observers sometimes noted, not unlike herself before she achieved celebrity in the 1970s.

“I couldn’t stand writing about weak women,” she once said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “My heroines say ‘No’ to men — when they want to.”

She attracted controversy in 1997, when she was accused of plagiarizing passages from books by the romance novelist Nora Roberts. Ms. Dailey admitted that she had borrowed from Ms. Roberts’ writing in two novels and said that it had happened during her husband’s treatment for cancer and other personal pressures. A lawsuit was settled out of court, and Ms. Dailey continued her writing.

Janet Ann Haradon was born May 21, 1944, in Storm Lake, Iowa. Her father died when she was a girl, and her mother later married again.


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