Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Wide Appeal of Contemporary and Category Romance

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?


Chris said...

I've read a few Harlequin category romances, but never really got into them. In fact, I've probably already more Carina Press titles than I ever read Harlequin categories.

But I've read a fair number of books from their other imprints - I think HQN is one of theirs? The Lords of the Underworld come out under that imprint, for example.

Tracy said...

My mom started me out reading Harlequins when I was 13 and bored one summer. I read her entire stash that summer and was hooked on romance novels for life. I don't read as many category romances today as I used to back then but there is definite appeal to some of them. I really like some of the books that HQN has come out with.

Artemis said...

I just started reading the Harlequin books and have found the Blaze line to my liking. Yes, I have read some in their HQN line and like those also. I'll have to look into the Spice line. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized what a gem these books were!

Lea said...

Hi Chris:

I really like the Carina Press titles too. I've not read one yet that hasn't been well done, and they seem to be offering such diversity with respect to genres as well.

HQN is Harlequin.

Thanks Chris!!

Lea said...

Hey Tracy!

Thanks, sounds like we started reading Harlequins around the same age. I've just discovered Harlequin Special Edition and loved the story, I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Thanks Tracy!!

Lea said...

Hi Artemis:

Blaze has some GREAT stories. Aside from the Spice and Mira books I think it is Blaze I've picked up most often.

Spice books are written the the first person but there has only been one so far that I've not been too keen about. Very well done IMHO..


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