Categories: The Bastard Children of Romance

Harlequins2 Last week on our message boards a discussion arose about category romances – specifically, whether or not one reads them and why. For those of you who don’t know, categories (a.k.a. “series romances”) are the shorter, usually numbered books released each month by Harlequin, Silhouette or Love Inspired(Steeple Hill) in the U.S., and Mills and Boon in the U.K. Currently, Harlequin publishes more than 2 dozen different category lines, and there are numerous obsolete lines in the publisher’s history. (Harlequin also publishes single-titles under the MIRA and HQN imprints.)

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Re-Reading Old Favorites

I first started reading romances around age 11, when I discovered my mother’s huge stash of category romances. I read gazillions of these books—seriously, I couldn’t get enough—reading roughly 6 per week for years. Because I never had to look further than the upstairs cupboards for my next fix, for years I didn’t even know that single-title romances existed.

Out of the hundreds of category romances I read, I have no recollection of 99% of them. Occasionally when I’m in the local UBS, I’ll recognize a cover, but when I read the blurb my memory isn’t stimulated in the slightest. They just didn’t stick with me over the long term. But there is that 1% that I not only remember, I adored. I may not have remembered the titles or authors, but I remembered bits and pieces of the stories themselves, and most importantly, I remembered how I felt when reading them. Continue reading