December 29, 1975 12:00 PM

Two years ago Rosemary Rogers, a divorcée with four children to support, typed and filed for the Solano County Parks Department in Fairfield, Calif. She spent her lunch hours at the library studying French and Mexican history. At night, while the phonograph played classical music, she wove her research into an exotic tale of rape and romance set in the mid-1800s.

Four weeks after Rogers sent her unsolicited manuscript of Sweet Savage Love to Avon—the first publisher she’d contacted—the book was accepted for publication. Presto! Rosemary Rogers has become the golden girl of the erotic gothic. Up to the bedroom door, her formula is not very different from standard historical fiction. But while other gothic authors tend to stop there, Rogers plunges boldly in. Her readers devour it. Mostly female, they profess love for Steve Morgan, the tall, dark and rough-with-women hero of Sweet Savage Love and Dark Fires, her third novel. “One woman wrote that the books changed her sex life,” says 40-year-old Rogers. “It had been so dull until she got her husband to read them.”

Dark Fires (published last August) is a best-seller, and Sweet Savage Love, now in its 14th paperback printing, will be put out in hardcover by the Literary Guild in April—something that rarely happens to paperback originals.

Raven-haired Rogers was born in Ceylon where her father ran a school outside the capital city of Colombo. “It was a very luxurious life with lots of servants,” she recalls. “I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 18 and in college.” An English and history major at the University of Ceylon, Rogers got married in her junior year. The marriage failed, and she fled with her three children to England. There she met and married an American airman who brought her to the States. Their son was born in 1963, but that marriage ended the following year.

Today Rogers saves all her romance for her novels. “The men I see I’m not too impressed with,” she says. “I’m not lonely. If I need a plumber I can call one. I don’t need a man for that.”

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