McKee writes a thinking person's romance novel

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Some romance novels may be mainly about heavy breathing, but Roseanne McKee's first novel is different and more complicated. Call it the thinking person's romance novel.

McKee, a former writer for the Pawhuska Journal-Capital and the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, in July published a work of fiction titled "Oklahoma Roses: a tourist’s companion romance."

Woven into the text of the more than 360 pages of the novel are references to locations in Osage and Washington counties in Oklahoma. There are also multiple cultural influences at work -- Native American, Irish, Scandinavian; and it's also a Christian romance novel, so there's no heavy breathing.

“To be American is to respect the culture of your neighbors and friends and to sometimes marry and blend those traditions in a way that allows them to remain distinct," McKee said. “I think that’s one of the things that I love about our country.”

The novel is available in paperback at several locations in Pawhuska -- the Funky Pearl Boutique, Sister’s Attic, Krazy Kow, the Osage County Historical Society Museum, and the Hair Razors salon; and in Hominy at Cha’ Tullis Gallery and the Fred Drummond Home. McKee signed copies of the novel last Saturday at the Fred Drummond Home.

A Kindle Edition of the book is also available online, through

McKee began work on her novel a decade ago, after being asked by her young son, Nicholas, if she had written a book. The way he asked the question, he appeared to think that surely his mother had written a book. Her reaction was to think, “No, but I guess I better now."

She did not work on the novel for the entire 10 years. There were interruptions due to family events -- such as helping, in the aftermath of her mother's death, with the estate.

 “I never stopped working on the book in my mind," McKee said. "I worked through some of the story conflicts.”

A variety of considerations influenced her thinking about what to include in the book. One of those is that, while she lives in Bartlesville, McKee is passionate about Pawhuska and Osage County.

“I fell in love with Pawhuska right away," she said, recalling that her reporting duties in the town used to regularly prompt emotional reactions on her part. “I would just come back choked up about how much the community cared."

There were also Native American cultural elements McKee wanted to find ways to honor in her novel. During her occupational odyssey, she has done public relations work for the chief's office of the Delaware Nation, and for the Bartlesville Indian Women's Club. Among acknowledgements in the book is “a special thanks to Nagi Whiteowl and the members of the Bartlesville Indian Women’s Club for generously sharing their American Indian culture with me."

“This is a book where the female characters are strong and supportive of one another,” McKee adds. Her primary character, Noelle Sanders, is faced with a choice between two suitors, as well as the possibility of a new career.

The novel is intended to entertain, but also to interest the reader in locations to visit and events to attend in Osage and Washington counties -- thus, the appellation "tourist's companion romance."

From Osage County, you can find references to Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve, to Bad Brad's restaurant in Pawhuska, to the performance of The Nutcracker in Pawhuska, and to the Fred Drummond Home in Hominy. In Washington County, the Price Tower Gala, Yocham's Custom Leather and the Painted Horse are among the references made. The book cover photo is from Osage County.

McKee, who formerly served on Osage County's tourism committee, and who did tourism promotion work for Hominy, has consciously included elements in her story to encourage interest in a variety of local destinations.

So if you're new to northeast Oklahoma, or know someone planning to visit, McKee's novel may prove a helpful, entertaining introduction to place names and details.