Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday Talk Time: Why I Love Harlequin Romance

Today Fiona Harper tells us why she loves Harlequin Romance - little books with a big heart!

I read a smattering of Harlequin Romances in my teens (under the UK name of Mills & Boon). There were young, innocent heroines, brooding heroes and surprisingly intricate descriptions of what everyone was wearing. I loved them. I loved the escapism, the romance, the simmering sexual tension that culminated in a few crushing kisses.

Fast-forward a few years… I picked up some more of those little books, not knowing that now there was more than just one flavour, different lines with different promises. And I read about sheikhs and tycoons and Mediterranean men that made me go weak at the knees. The heroines were feistier, and the action didn’t stop at a few chaste kisses – oh, no!

And then I decided I wanted to write a romance, and I started researching the different lines that were available. I ordered my first batch of Harlequin Romances and tore the box open when it came through the letterbox. The first one I read was Jodi Dawson’s Assignment: Marriage. The hero and heroine meet when she whacks him over the head with an iron skillet after finding him snooping in her garden.

Hang on a minute! I thought. Where was the innocent heroine in her yellow sundress with cap sleeves and a scalloped hem? Surely romance heroines weren’t supposed to be this sassy, sexy and – most surprising of all – funny? I devoured the rest of the book in a couple of hours. And then got on the internet to order some more.

Then I read A Family of His Own by Liz Fielding. The gardening-mad heroine was generous-hearted, a little bit clumsy and swore using the botanical names for plants. The hero was dark and brooding, but he wasn’t as invincible as some of the heroes I had met before; he was wounded... sigh. The bath water went from hot to cool to icy as I read it. I laughed out loud, I cried, my heart broke and got mended again. And when I finally closed the covers, I knew one thing – these were the kinds of books I wanted not only to read, but to write.

Harlequin Romances are big stories in little books. Chocolate for the soul. And any chocolate connoisseur worth her salt knows: there are different types of chocolate for different types of mood. Want the 70% cocoa solids, dark stuff – almost too rich and dense to bear? Then choose a weepie and make sure you have a box of tissues standing by as your heart slowly splinters like cracking chocolate.

How about creamy milk chocolate, sweet and crumbly and impossible to leave alone until the foil is empty? Pick up a heart-warming tale in the same vein as films like ‘You’ve Got Mail’ or ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Smile and sigh and pout just a little when it’s all gone.

Or my favourite – white chocolate truffles with a cappuccino centre. Light, luscious mousse with a kick of caffeine to give you a zing, and a surprising depth once you get through the light and fluffy outer coating. These are the deceptively light stories that hook you in with great dialogue, a snappy plot, then, just when you’re lulled into a false sense of security – ZAP – suddenly the tears are streaming down your face and you’ve got the ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling so bad your toes are tingling.

But, the absolutely best thing we all love about Harlequin Romances is the down-to-earth characters and the identifiable situations they face, letting us believe that, given the blessing of fate and a following wind, maybe it could happen us too…. Sigh.

Look out for Fiona's next release, Saying Yes To The Millionaire, part of the Bride for All Seasons trilogy. Out June 2008.

When cautious Fern Chambers is challenged by a friend to say yes to every question she is asked, she never expects to spend four days with dreamy Josh Adams in a charity treasure hunt...


  1. Great post, Fiona. I love Harlequin Romance too. I was hooked about 15 years ago when I read Jessica Hart's 'The Right Kind of Man'. I love how so many of the books combine humor with emotion.


  2. Oh...I so agree. And sneaky of you to get chocolate in there too.

    And that's a gorgeous cover!

  3. Fabulous post Fiona,

    You made me laugh, you made me cry (tears of nostalgia for those scalloped hems!) and go running for my secret stash of chocolate. Everything a post should be really, a bit like one of your books.


  4. Great post, Fiona. And seems we're spiritual twins on the fave choccies :o)

    (I must introduce you to Hotel Chocolat...)

  5. Anyone who knows me knows I can't go too long without mentioning choccie! I have a Hotel Chocolate were I live, Kate! I just resist going inside...

    Since I inherited 'silly' genes somewhere along the line, i definitely need a good giggle now and then. And there's something about pairing humour with deep emotion that works so well. A bit like coffee paired with chocolate.

    See? I'm off again.

    Thanks for dropping by and reading everyone!

  6. Okay, give with the name of those white chocolate truffles!