My mother is turning 81 this year. She is an educated woman who worked in various business arenas well past 'retirement age'. And, she has always been a voracious reader of romance. In my earliest memory Mom always had a Harlequin on her bedside table or in her hands while curled up on the couch relaxing during off time.
She still steers toward Harlequins today and I've been surprised to see a couple of Blazes on her table when I go to visit. lol She looks at me and winks, "hmmm...sexy" she says! lol I realized after pondering for a while I was being quite ageist regarding my mother's romance reading preferences and introduced her to Julie James. She has read Just The Sexiest Man Alive, and Practice Makes Perfect, (published by Berkley Sensation), loved the novels, AND she is very keen to read Julie's more recent novels even with the warning, "the sex scenes are more graphic in the next two books Mom". To which she responded, "oh that's okay, the Blazes are bad!" LOLOL (If she only knew about the naughty reading her daughter likes. - yikes!)
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think my mother is ready for some of the more sexually explicit erotics out there, but I'm certainly surprised at her open mindedness. :) Which brings me to the overall appeal of contemps and category romance---including the various genres housed under that umbrella. I think Harlequin is especially good at addressing the preferences of a wide range and cross section of readers.
I was astounded to discover that Harlequin was founded in 1949 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and remains a Toronto, Ontario based company. Today, Harlequin publishes approximately 120 new titles each month in 29 different languages in 107 international markets on six continents. The novels are written by over 1,300 authors worldwide, offering readers a broad range of fiction from romance to psychological thrillers to relationship novels. I'm not surprised about this statistical data at all. You don't have to walk into a bookstore here in Toronto to find a Harlequin, their publications are everywhere, drug stores, WalMart, variety stores, grocery stores etc. And, most recently there is Carina Press for those of us who like eBooks and I have to say I'm so impressed with the publications that are offered by that Harlequin imprint.
I have to admit to being somewhat prejudiced with respect to Harlequin category romances for a time. I read so many years ago (I stole them from my mother's room from the time I was a pre-adolescent) and in later years felt they were "formula" and "boring", and spurned Harlequins to move on to more "sophisticated" romances. Well, in recent years I picked up a novel published under their Spice imprint and it was like nirvana! lol I visited the Harlequin site and it truly is like opening a cookie jar full of tasty treats for readers. No matter what genre or type of romance suits your fancy you most likely can find it.
What about you? Do you enjoy any of the category romances or any of the other publications from Harlequin? Given their longevity and influence on romance, do you remember any extra special ones you have read over the years?