Lissa had never heard of Luc Ferrier before. But he was well-known as Lucifer at the hotel casino where she worked. All her instincts cried out that he was dangerous--not only as a gambler, but as a man. She hadn't even known his name As an inexperienced drama student, Clare had been shocked and disgusted by the sudden and rough lovemaking of Luke, an older, handsome stranger.
She had turned away from love--for good. Now, nine years later, Clar Kate was finished with love for good Kate's new boss, features editor Eliot Holman, might have devastating charms--but Kate couldn't care less, even if it was obvious that he was interested in her. Everyone, including Eliot, thought Kate was g Lisa's former life was behind her now Lisa was not exactly happy working in Evan Wright's advertising agency. Competent herself, she found it unpleasant covering for Jon, Evan's inept brother-in-law.
Then Steve Crawford, a demanding new client, Her secret saved her from Alex's charms Sophie loved Crete. Working there as secretary to Madame Lefkas was like a dream come true. It was far away from England and the secret, impossible love for Simon that she had to forget. When Alex, madame He wanted his fun--with no commitments Nicola knew all the reasons why she should remain nothing more than Lang Hyland's secretary. That was all she ever intended to be Lang was a womanizer. He preferred big-eyed blondes, but his interest waned His sex appeal wouldn't sway her Not only did he plan to renovate the old house, but he wanted to intrude into her life; Paul was a man, but acted like a boy Helen's husband, Paul was handsome, charming and a gracious companion until one got to know him.
Helen's life with him was a long string of disappointments and heartaches. But she had married him, and in sp She wouldn't live her life in fear Claire knew Nick loved his job as newsman in the world's trouble spots, but did he love it more than he did her? She'd seen her mother suffer from her father's dangerous job and was determined not to go through t She couldn't refuse a dying man's wish It took just one phone call to shatter Lauren's peace. A peace painfully acquired through the years since her bitter divorce from Andreas Keralides.
His mother's frantic phone call was intended to bring La Why had Drew shown up in Paris now? Helen had managed to avoid Drew for the past six years, ensuring that if he was in one country she'd be in another. After all, theirs wasn't a real marriage anyway--Drew had wanted the business connection wit Joanne was a shadow of her lovely mother Everywhere she went, Clea Thorpe was the center of attention.
And Joanne had been content enough living in her shadows--until Ben Norris arrived at their villa in Nice. He seemed drawn to Clea, even offe Their worlds were light-years apart Sara Nichols was proud to be a painter Her landscapes were catching on, and though she wasn't making a fortune, she had enough to get by.
Nick Rawdon, on the other hand, had more money than he bothered to cou How could such a love have died? Caroline asked herself the useless question. Her marriage to the distinguished lawyer, James Fox, had been nearly ideal. Now there was nothing between them but cold contempt. In her loneliness Caroline turned Would the past ruin her future? In the chaotic world of a London television network, Natalie struggled to rebuild her life--and grieved privately over the death of her beloved husband, Angus.
When she was promoted to Jake Lang's production team Rachel was furious. As a night-club singer, Rachel had become indifferent to men's admiration. But young Nicky Hammond was special. His boyish admiration and need Leigh thought she could handle any man. Then she met Mattieson Hume. From their first stirring encounter, she was powerless to keep him at bay. Although she hated him, his caresses flamed her with desire. How could she pursue her planned future Laura should have realized earlier Why had it never entered her head? Her grandfather and Dan Harland planning her marriage--to Dan Harland!
All her moments of suspicion gelled into the ghastly realization. It was their answer to everythin It was hard to resist Alex He smiled arrogantly at her. Admit it, Deborah. It was true. She loved Alex St. James, a music-industry executive who Nothing would ever be the same again! Linden had been only seventeen when Joss crashed into her life.
Naively, she had offered him her friendship and trust. In return, he had aroused emotions in her she was too young to handle, wrenching her from It was true, so horribly true. She had married Philippe on a wild impulsve, to save herself from being humiliated by the man she had thought she lo There were two great loves in her life. Louise's love for her beautiful home, Queen's Dower, was as solid and unchangeable as the house itself. But her love for her stepbrother, Daniel, had subtly evolved over the years. While she had adored I don't want to hear any more of your lies.
What did he mean? He called her "Lyn," but she didn't Should she accept this second chance? Three years before, Selina's brief and disastrous marriage to Ashley Dent had ended in divorce. Now he had turned up and was pressuring her to marry him again. A busy tycoon carving out an empire, he had no time left for his young bride. In desperation she fled back to her father who needed her. Then, uninvi As long as she could remember, Laura had loved Dr. Tom Nicol, a gentle, self-sacrificing man, dedicated to serving the needy. Unlike him in every way was Randal Mercier--wealthy, powerful, taking what What the desert claims, it keeps Was the saying true, Marie wondered.
On the moonlit sands of a desert oasis, they were utterly alone. Did this arrogant stranger want only the Oriel Mellstock--wealthy, beautiful and a widow--could have any man she wanted. But she couldn't forget Devil Haggard, whose apparent rejection had once sent her across the world into the arms of a millionaire. Coming back to the Yorkshire dale wh And Leonie felt that anything was better than his intention of disinheriting her cousin, Paul, in her favor. For twenty years her mother's Greek family had ignored Leonie's existence. Then suddenly her ailing grea The family could be split in two!
Amanda had been frightened rather than flattered by Cesare Druetso's proposal of marriage when she was eighteen. She had refused to be a slave to his masterful ways. Now, five years later, she was back in his h I warned you at the start, but you wouldn't listen.
You're obstinate and willful. How he must dislike and despise her! Act professionally? None of her protestations changed his belief. And he called her a coward. Well, maybe she was, Katrine thought. She'd always been co Old Mrs. Butler didn't want her nephew Nicholas to marry his beautiful but selfish fiancee--and she unashamedly set about using her young companion, Kate Fox, to break up the romance. But someone was likely to get hurt in the process. First p Elizabeth was brokenhearted when she discovered that her fiance Dan was in love with her best friend Karen, and as there was nothing she could do but accept the situation as gracefully as possible, she broke off the engagement.
Then family circums It had been a big decision for Claire to travel to the South of France to visit her orphaned baby nephew and niece, as she had foreseen that she would meet with hostility from the children's French relatives. What she had not foresee was the overb Kate hadn't liked the haughty Greek, Marc Lillitos, from the first moment she met him, and it was only for the sake of her fiance Peter, a keen archaeologist, that she had accepted Marc's invitation to the two of them to visit his Greek island home.
Angry Desire. Dark Fever. Wild Hunger. Walking in Darkness. Haunted Dreams. Deadly Rivals. Secret Obsession. In the Still of the Night. Dark Fate. Dying for You. Body and Soul. Vampire Lover. Guilty Love. Wounds of Passion. Falling in Love. Fire in the Blood. Forbidden Fruit. Sleeping Partners. Barbary Wharf - 6 Harlequin Presents - A Sweet Addiction.
Barbary Wharf - 5 Harlequin Presents - Playing Hard to Get. Barbary Wharf - 4 Harlequin Presents - Too Close for Comfort. Barbary Wharf - 3 Harlequin Presents - Battle for Possession. Barbary Wharf - 2 Harlequin Presents - Barbary Wharf - 1 Harlequin Presents - Shotgun Wedding. Heart on Fire. The Threat of Love.
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Seductive Stranger. No More Lonely Nights. And so Harlequin was born as a sideline, "a filler for a nice, steady business," Bonnycastle's right-hand woman Ruth Palmour told Paul Grescoe in an interview for his gleeful history of the company, The Merchants of Venus. It's Palmour and Bonnycastle's wife Mary who deserve much of the credit for getting Harlequin off the ground. At first, the company published a mishmash of genres, with mixed success. Palmour, who ran much of the business day-to-day, noticed "nice little romances" were performing particularly well.
Meanwhile, Mary, a socially polished stay-at-home mother, had agreed to read over the company's titles for errors.
She began establishing her preferences she didn't much hold with "sex books," for instance , and soon emerged as de facto editor-in-chief. In , Palmour pitched a partnership, sending their reprint rates and suggesting Harlequin would be keen on "some of your doctor and nurse titles. When they received Ms.
They'd also formed a cozy postwar relationship with the English women's magazines, selling serial rights for upcoming titles. After all, the two businesses weren't that different: "You have to know who your reader is, be identified with him, know how to attract and hold him in bondage to the almost unbreakable habit and habit is everything of buying your product," Woman's Own editor James Drawbell told McAleer. Johnson—which allows you to put a couple in close quarters without anybody getting naked.
Harlequins from the 60s are lousy with MINOs. Author Esther Wyndham described the ideal Johnson heroine: "It was her character rather than her looks that attracted; she became beautiful only at rare moments, preferably when the hero was looking at her without her knowing it. Bonnycastle—have a very distinct tone. One imagines them narrated by the sort of smooth-voiced receptionists who pop up in B movies from the period. In my casual survey of books from the period, the heroine comes across as rather put-upon, sometimes to the point of spinelessness.
She is never vulgar, never flashy and wholly virginal. Generally around 19, she's forced to shift for herself and generally must work. If she's a nurse, she's fairly capable; if she's a paid companion, she's likely fairly hopeless. Things happen to the midcentury Harlequin heroine; she does not happen to things. She encounters a wealthy man whose moods she cannot read, whose motives remain mysterious until the last few pages when it's revealed that he's been desperately in love with her the entire time and they must marry immediately. I'm simplifying, but not that much.
Here's an excerpt from Maggy , a Sara Seale title about a girl who works as a lady's companion for a miserable woman until she's rescued by a paralyzed man who's basically settling down to die but figures he'll do one last good turn by providing this sweet child a better life. He eventually recovers, of course. He tells her he's bringing her on as a paid companion but has to marry her for it to work, because Ireland.
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She does not seem to understand that he has basically made her a very rich woman and all she has to do is kick back:. It soon became evident to Maggy that her services as a companion were not required. Garth wrote his own letters and attended personally to such matters arising out of the estate. Duffy ran the house and as yet, Maggy hadn't even penetrated to the kitchen regions. There was nothing in the world for her to do at Floyne and with each day that went by, she experienced a feeling of guilt.
There appeared to be no good reason whatever for her presence in Garth Shelton's household and her tentative efforts of help seemed to irritate him. Let me stress for anybody who's not a romance reader that for those of us who're accustomed to the more modern stuff, this seems alien. Today we expect in-depth insight into the hero's feelings, for instance. Without that inside track, the "Psych! He's been in love with you this whole time! Even more frustrating than the lack of POV parity are the villains, who seem disproportionately female, and the heroines rarely seem to have supportive women to whom they can turn.
Lotta instant friendships with junior maids, though. Books by Violet Winspear, for instance, fairly seethe; absolutely no premarital sex, though. And still, if Mary Bonnycastle didn't approve, Harlequin wouldn't touch it. Via McAleer:. There were other publishers, I'm sure, who would have been delighted to publish these books. But, we couldn't, because of Mrs. We couldn't offer them to another publisher. Previously, Heisey had spent 13 years at Procter and Gamble, selling things like Tide and Comet, hence the cliche that Harlequins are sold like soap.
But Harlequin had an undeniable hot streak under his tenure. For one thing, Grescoe says, it was the s when Harlequin invaded grocery stores. They'd always had a presence in places that carried paperbacks, like drugstores and newsstands, but distributing their books through supermarkets made them near ubiquitous. At the same time, B. Dalton was expanding aggressively in suburban malls across America, offering another sales channel.
And then there was the direct-to-customer Reader Service, launched in Subscribers got a bundle of the month's new releases sent straight to their homes. It was so lucrative it would make a modern publisher weep. Remember: this is before big-box bookstores spread across America, before Amazon and long before the rise of digital self-publishing.
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There just wasn't as much to read, and romance devotees are famously voracious. Harlequin promised consistently entertaining books you could read in a couple of hours, clearly packaged, available for purchase without so much as driving fifteen minutes out of your way. Imagine you're a woman with three kids and maybe a part-time job, on a budget that's far from unlimited, and think about the power of that promise. And, oh, the marketing! Never has a publishing company gone to such dedicated, batshit-crazy lengths to move its product.
They plowed money into TV advertising, sure, running commercials during prime-time programs like Kojak and Laugh-In , which catapulted Harlequin into a household name. But the variety and range of promotional capers is truly astounding. Other promotional ventures done on a contractual basis include a complete romance published in Good Housekeeping that was followed by a coupon the reader could send in to receive a free Harlequin; a romance packed in the large-size box of Kotex feminine napkins and Bio-Ad detergent; romances given away to customers at McDonald's restaurants on Mother's Day; romances given away with purchases of Avon products and Jergens lotion and a free romance given in exchange for a coupon found on the bottom of Ajax cans.
I would not be at all mad at more Kotex gifts with purchase.
New from Harlequin
It's pretty clear these sorts of wildly successful! It offends delicate literary sensibilities to see words packaged and sold so nakedly like a TV dinner, no matter how successful a moneymaking strategy. And too, Harlequin was unashamed about going where its customers were—and its customers were women, often housewives. They knew they were selling to women, and they chased women's dollars without embarrassment or apology. And let's face it, being associated with women is often the shortest route to being dismissed in the broader culture as fundamentally unserious.
But it damn sure worked financially. After the TV advertising push, sales jumped 30 million books in two years, hitting 72 million in Grescoe says that by the mids, the company printed , copies of every single fucking book.
By the end of the decade, Harlequin had spent several years perched atop a golden goose. In the book business, stores can return unsold inventory for a refund, which often screws with publishers' balance sheets. Harlequin's returns were the envy of the industry. Their market share was unrivalled. The world was theirs. And they'd done it all without especially dramatic changes to the books. Via Grescoe, here's author Violet Winspear explaining her approach:. I put all these cruel manly words into these men's mouths… and then work so as he makes a grab for the girl.
And then she's half fainting, you know what I mean, with a burning desire, which she doesn't even understand herself. And then he's bruising her mouth with his urgent, demanding kisses, and he's got this strange steely light in his eyes. And I get it so the girl says to herself, 'What does it mean, what does it mean?
Even outside Presents, it was increasingly explicit that the tension simmering between hero and heroine was sexual in nature, even if it was never consummated outside the bonds of holy matrimony: these were the glory days of the punishing kisses. His power over the heroine is exercised mainly through sexual domination, but he is also the richer and more powerful of the two; often, he is her boss.
There are always exceptions when you talk about something so diverse as Harlequin, but I think it's fair to say the s were peak jerk. The absolute low point of reporting this article was reading a Harlequin Presents by Anne Hampson, in which the "hero" kidnaps the heroine and tells her either they get married or he rapes her. I couldn't even make it halfway through. While they published authors from around the Commonwealth lord, the Australian romances!
KJ Charles – Words for sale
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