The Serious Readers Who Never Moved On

harlequins Most readers who come here often probably know that this blog has more than one author, and we tend to have more than viewpoint on things. On some issues, it seems like we need to do a bit of point and counterpoint because there are plenty of areas in romance that are great fodder for debate.

As I read the blog last Friday, I could feel myself nodding along at times. Yes, I’m not always on the “majority opinion team”, I like historical detail but I don’t need all my historicals to be dark and super-gritty, and even if Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t my cuppa, I’m not into bashing the people that read it. Heck, that book has made romance converts of more than a few of my offline friends. But then I reached the sentence,“I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t,” and stopped dead. Continue reading

Category Romance: A Theory

sinclairI’ve been very busy with work lately and a bit stressed out, as a result.  And then there’s the traditional fall increase in my television watching after the summer drought.  Add to that the fact that I seem to be having a hard time concentrating – and there you have it:  Someone who’s been reading a lot of older categories, thanks to Harlequin’s extensive digitizing of backlists.

I’ve written before about my (kind of inexplicable) affection for the Silhouettes of Tracy Sinclair.  And, yes, it’s true, I’ve been on a bit of a binge lately.  There’s something about a Tracy Sinclair Alpha man that’s comforting to me.

And then there’s the return of the Loveswept line.  How can I resist Iris Johansen and Sharon and Tom Curtis?  Well, I can’t.  And therein lies the  rub.

I’m not dissing categories here.  Well, since I can already hear the screams, let’s be honest and say that I’m introducing a bit of balance here since there is so much love for categories exhibited all over the Interwebs – here and elsewhere.

Truth is, in the past few years, I’ve taken recommendations and tried numerous HPs and other category novels.  Seriously.  I’ve tried.  Really.  And they are just not satisfying to me.  It’s been years since I’ve read a new category I enjoyed.

But the categories of the late 80s and the 90s?  They hit my sweet spot in ways that the categories of today just don’t.

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The OTHER Reading Slump

books Do you ever hit those points in your reading where you just don’t know where to start? Usually, at this time of the year, I’m brimming over with reading ideas and books that I cannot wait to dive into. I’ve actually read some VERY good books this year (One Was a Soldier, The Bride Finder, Unveiled and a few more), but for some reason I feel like I’m hitting a wall. I have plenty of books in my TBR, but I just can’t decide where to start.

I would distinguish this from a regular reading slump because my problem isn’t that I just can’t find anything that grabs me. My dilemma is more about being spoiled for choice. I’ve got books on my Kindle that sound fantastic, I’ve been getting fun-sounding review books and my print TBR hasn’t exactly shrunk all that much. I look at my books and feel myself being pulled into way too many directions. I always have a review book to read, but it’s what to read on the side that gets me.
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Princes and Princesses

willkate I’ll put it right out there – I own a commemorative mug of Charles and Diana’s wedding. I also still own a book commemorating the event. I tell myself these might be worth something someday (hence my need to keep them) but the fact is, fractured though the fairy tale was these items still remind me of those moments when I, as a young girl, dreamed that Prince and Princess stories could take place in real life.

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Silhouette in the Shadows

sinclairMany long-time romance readers didn’t know what to make when Harlequin announced that they were changing the name of the Silhouette line to Harlequin in April of next year. Until the details became better known, there was even fear that the Silhouette lines were being discontinued. Luckily, as it turns out, this was simply a name change.

I should have seen it coming. In June of this year, Harlequin announced that the Silhouette Nocturne was now the Harlequin Nocturne line. According to a post from a reader on GoodReads, Harlequin announced, “If you’re looking for the Nocturnes on eHarlequin, be advised that starting in June Nocturne is making a slight switch from Silhouette Nocturne to Harlequin Nocturne. Don’t worry, the authors, books and elements you love about Nocturne aren’t changing, they’re just trying it make it a bit easier for Harlequin fans to find more paranormal romances! There is now a page for Harlequin Nocturne on, and the backlist titles still under Silhouette are available here. ” As far as I can tell, this text is no longer visible on the eHarlequin site.

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Harlequin CEO To Win Award + Interview!

award_trophy This evening, at the YWCA of the City of New York’s 6th Annual Summer Soiree, Harlequin Publisher and CEO Donna Hayes will be presented with the “W” Award. This award is presented by the YWCA to women and companies that they see as embodying the mission of the organization to empower women, and Ms. Hayes has been selected for her work at Harlequin which the YWCA proclaims, “celebrates characters of all colors, ages, and backgrounds.”

Though she keeps a very busy schedule, Donna Hayes very graciously granted us an interview. We got to discuss how romances empower women, where Harlequin is going from here, and even those titles! It’s all below the cut:

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News and Musings

skip_to_end – The big news around the web this week has been the launch of Carina Press. They launched Monday and their books are now available in a number of places, including at their own site, where they’re offering a 20% discount. I bought a couple of the new releases this Monday, and compared to what I’ve encountered elsewhere, their site was very user-friendly. I’ve looked over their list of upcoming books through August, and we’re in for some treats – including reprints of some Hope Tarr historicals I’d almost given up on finding at the UBS!

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Books

neels There are certain books with which I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. Perhaps love-unease might be a better way to describe it, because I’m not sure my feelings ever quite fall to the level of hate. My love-hate books tend to be those which are unabashedly retro in their outlook, so I suspect my unease comes more from who I am rather than from the books all by themselves. I don’t speak here of the rape and/or abuse romances of old that I’ve discussed, but of some of the books I like that really are throwbacks to a very old-fashioned view of relationships.

For example, I’ll willingly confess to my Harlequin Presents habit. However, as a rather independent professional woman, I have to admit to a certain amount of discomfort with the whole “alpha billionaire sweeps dainty heroine off her feet and into a life of luxury” fantasy. Though there are definitely exceptions, the heroes in this line tend to be quite domineering, the settings exotic, the heroines delicate and fluttery. The plotting features over the top drama (think secret babies, forced marriages, dramatic business takeovers, amnesiac pregnant mistresses – well, you get it), and the dynamic between hero and heroine has a definite retro feel. And that’s not even getting into the bizarre plot acrobatics sometimes required to ensure that most of these heroines hold on to their virginity so that the hero can be swept away by magic virgin sex and they’ll live happily ever after.

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The Harlequin Horizons Debacle

disaster You know how people can remember where they first heard about a terrible disaster? The Harlequin Horizons debacle is like that for me. While most romance readers heard about it on a blog or a romance message board, I heard about it first on a writing site, Reading about scams that prey on writers is like a hobby for me. When I saw a warning for something called Harlequin Horizons, my first thought was “Some small publisher is going to get in trouble for using the Harlequin name.”

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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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