Recently I had a conversation with someone that forced me to acknowledge that there are people out there who believe Harlequin romances have no literary merit. That if you read Harlequin, you would not know what good literature was if it smacked you in the face. I’m sure the good ladies over at ‘Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ would not agree with that sentiment. There’s also this notion that Harlequin is synonymous with bad, sappy romance novels. Or as Steve Donoghue put it:
“That’s because in its seventy years of life, Harlequin has been a continuous object of scorn, the Mills & Boon of North America, despised by the non-romance-reading world as a purveyor of quickie crap and disparaged even by romance readers as the bottom of the genre barrel (how often over the years have romance browsers been overheard saying “I have some standards – at least I don’t read Harlequins!”)”
Harlequin and I don’t have the most pleasant of histories. The few Harlequin novels I have reviewed on this site, I have reviewed negatively. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read Harlequin novels that I’ve enjoyed. Unfortunately, I read them all before I started doing my reviews, and the last few or so I’ve read have failed to impress.
However, I firmly believe Harlequin novels have a rightful place in this world. Just because they don’t fit your personal tastes, does not mean that there aren’t people out there who take great joy in them. And the people who write for Harlequin? The ones I’ve come across are passionate women with vivid imaginations who want nothing more than to share their characters with you. They enjoy what they do, they like giving other women the escapist fantasy they crave. And you know what? They enjoy their jobs. Not everyone can say they enjoy what they do for a living.
On a final note, I’m very picky when it comes to editing errors. I find typos in a book and I wonder how any editor worth a grain of salt let something so horrendous past their sensors. A fine example includes Sarah Poole’s Borgia series. In the first book, the first person narrator actually refers to herself as Lucrezia. One word, yet multiple mistakes. I’m pleased to note that out of the Harlequin books I’ve read, I’ve yet to come across something so grievous. Granted, Harlequin puts out a lot of books a month, so I may be missing things, but the publishing house itself has acquired some of the best editors in the business. For that alone they deserve your consideration.