Monday, June 22, 2009

Highlight Reel From Harlequin Famous Firsts!

Today the Bat Cave is most pleased to welcome Harlequin editor, Marsha Zinberg, who has been on a blog tour promoting Harlequin's Famous Firsts collection. We have the most excellent honor of being her last stop on what has been a very busy month for the Harlequin Digital Team! So sit back, relax, and gorge on the Harlequin goodness. Oh, and be sure you don't skip over the contest information. So without further's Marsha!


I’ve been on tour, a blog tour, which is something completely new to me since June 1st. In discussing the Harlequin Famous Firsts novels, I think I’ve learned just as much from reader’s comments as I’ve been able to share about the Famous First authors.

From reviewing all the posts, a few interesting facts keep popping up:

• The majority of our readers start young (this is supported by our research)

Presents is often the first series read and while many authors were mentioned, Anne Mather is mentioned most often as the first author.

• Many readers shared how many books they owned (lots!) and their storage challenges.

• Several readers said they had started reading Harlequin romances more recently and that their first exposure was as an eBook! (We are keeping up with the times, and all of our titles are published as eBooks.)

• Many had fond memories of lines that aren’t part of our current offerings: Harlequin Temptation, Silhouette Shadows (we were ahead of the times!), Love & Laughter

• Others mentioned their experiences with critiques from and meetings with Harlequin and Silhouette editors

I pulled a few comments that I thought were representative:
“The very first romance I read was a Harlequin Presents when I was sixteen–so about 23 years ago. It was a book by Anne Mather and after that I was hooked on Harlequin. I’ve collected over a hundred books since then, mainly Presents. I treasure them…although some have been neatly stored in boxes because I don’t have any room left on my bookshelves. I’m a fan of the ethnic series like the Greek Tycoons because I adore dark, alpha men and lovely Mediterranean locales. I’ve also been enjoying the new eBook lines, mainly Spice Briefs–hot stuff!”
-- Celia Jade

“Fun facts, huh? Two of my favorite authors, Kathie DeNosky and Patricia Davids both received THE CALL on my birthday, although different years. My call came on my wedding anniversary.”
-- Roxann Delaney

“I’ve been reading Harlequin since 1970. My first one was The Arrogant Duke by Anne Mather. Most of my books are on my keeper shelf, and soon my grandchildren will read them! Great list, many of my favorite authors still write wonderful books!”
-- Eva S
“I have been reading Harlequin books since the early 90s. I thought they were strictly sweet romances until I spotted a Harlequin Intrigue in a Kmart store by my house. Ever since that first Intrigue novel (called Dominoes), I’ve been hooked. I still love the Intrigues, but over the years I’ve also enjoyed Silhouette Shadows, Silhouette Romantic Suspense (Intimate Moments), Steeple Hill Suspense and more. Some of my favorite Intrigue authors past and present are/were: Anne Stuart, Kelsey Roberts, BJ Daniels, Dani Sinclair, Amanda Stevens, and Carla Cassidy.

I will always be a Harlequin fan!”
--Sandra M
“I remember being about twelve and sneak-reading a Harlequin from my older cousin’s bookshelf during a summer visit… and being caught at it by my dad and having the first of many (many!) “discussions” about age-appropriate reading material…

Alas, poor Dad, he never had a chance! I’d solemnly listen to his lectures and go right on reading romance. Though to this day, when my parents enter the room, my first reaction is to hide the book/cover.”
-- Ms BookJunkie
“I’ve always been such a voracious reader that it’s quite possible I read Harlequins very early on, but I don’t recall many of the publishers of the books I read as a young girl. My first official foray into Harlequin was actually as a part of this anniversary celebration. I’m glad for the introduction, too. I’ll be reading more. Unquestionably.”
-- Carolyn Jewel
“Actually, I just recently started reading Harlequin. Until I received my Sony Reader, I mostly went for longer novels, historicals usually. However, then I found a bundle on the bookstore website and decided to try! Now I am addicted to them, particularly the Presents line. I am curious about Lowell’s book, since I have mostly read her recent releases.”
Thanks so much to everyone for sharing their memories about Harlequin. The Harlequin Digital Group tells me that they are going to gather all the posts and comments and either pull together an eBook or place it in the community – or both! – so we can enjoy the Famous
Firsts overview and your memories.

If you have any feedback or memories you want to share, please do so that we can include you as well!

Contest, Contest, Contest! I have a supremely awesome Harlequin tote bag filled with eight books from Harlequin's Famous Firsts collection. To enter, leave a comment on this post and share a fond memory you have of a Harlequin author and/or book. Maybe it's that Harlequin Presents you found at the library one summer when you were 14, or maybe it's the Harlequin author that sent you on your first, mad glom. Whatever it is, share that memory for a chance to win the awesomeness. Contest Ends Monday, June 29.

Previous stops on the Blog Tour can be found at Bookbinge, Plot Monkeys, Blaze authors blog, Romance Junkies, Romancing the Blog, Dear Author, Cataromance, Teach Me Tonight, and The Pink Heart Society.


joykenn said...

Oh, those old Halequins. I was living in upstate NY near the Canada border & we seemed to get them before anyone else. i picked up so many of the old ones too. i liked Joyce Dingwell because Australia seemed (and is) so far away --similar yet exotically different. All those Mills & Boon authors from Australia & New Zealand have left me with a craving to visit. Then Lord of the Rings movie came along and I'm adding it to the top of my got-to-do-before-I-die list.

Sarah said...

I picked a Harlequin Presents up during high school when I worked as a shelver in the library. I loved them because I read like one a night, return it, get a new one. I still read them because I like getting a complete story in under 200 pages. I also remember being completely shocked when I found out writers like Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, JAK, etc started out by writing category romance.

EllenToo said...

My first experience with Harlequin is a little ex-sister in law and my niece moved in with me while she and my brother were getting a divorce (long story short..he asked me to do it) and brought with her a box of books from the Romance category. They were special deal with several in a book covered in a golden hardback cover. Up until then I had never even heard of Harlequin.

raesalley said...

I remember my first - pirates, bodice ripping and general insanity.

Lori said...

The first ones I read were also Presents. The 50 Janet Daileys that used a different state for each one. Not getting involved in the controversy here, just saying that they totally got me hooked on the genre. I read every single one. I remember waiting and waiting for the next one to come out. I was a goner from then on.

sandi said...

I don't remember what my first Harlequins were. Maybe Intimate Moments or Special Editions? I was late to the party, and was reading some authors who were single titles, when I went backlist hunting and discovered the world of Harlequins.

Now, I'm totally hooked. I was disappointed with the demise of the Love and Laughter line, and was heartbroken with the demise of the Everlasting Love line.

Harlequins are great reads, and especially when I want a nice comfort read that's where I turn.

Alie said...

My first Harlequin was an Anne Mather as well, I believe. The one I most remember when I was 15 or 16 was Playboy McCoy. Good times :)

I still read old backlists of my fave authors in Harlequins (i.e. Nora Roberts, Anne Stuart, etc.).

CathyR said...

My introduction to Harlequins was in middle school - a fellow student was reading one aloud in gym one day, with a group of girls gathered around. I remember a lot of gasping and giggling over what was, to our middle school ears, very racy romantic encounters.

maered said...

My first Harlequin was a Lynne Graham book. Can't remember the title but I was hooked after that. I've still got a box full of "classics" that I just can't bear to throw away!

Nikki said...

I was reading Harlequins back in the early-to-late 70's B.C. (Before Children). I liked that I could pick them up at the grocery store. :) When things slowed down, I started back up with the Presents line. They sure can take me away. And I have read nearly all the other lines as well. I especially like the Silhouette Desire books, too.

corrie71 said...

The first romance I ever read was a Silhouette by Nora Roberts called Partners. I snuck it out of my mother's library bag. According to her website, it was published in 1985 so I was about 13 at the time. I continued to sneak my mother's romances for several more years until she figured it out and let me start getting them out of the library on my own.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't read very many Harlequin's until recently, when I got into them in a big way because of their availability as ebooks. But I think the first I remember reading and loving was Justine Davis' "Clay Yeager's Redemption". What a great book! I still pull it out and read it occasionally.
Jane A

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite memories was my Mom giving me a subscription to Harlequins to receive in the mail each month 6 books or so. I lived in a small town and I loved walking to the post office hoping the Harlequin order had arrived.

Regards, Ruth

SandyH said...

I found Harlequins just after my first son was born in 1975. My mother came to visit and brought several books with her. She left them with me. Then she gave me two large boxes full of books she had read. I devoured them that winter when it was too cold to take my son out. I really like Nerina Hillard especially Land of the Sun. I have five books by her. I don't think she wrote many more but I am still searching.

sula said...

Alright, I'm game. Growing up as a missionary kid on the other side of the planet, my reading choices were pretty much limited to whatever other missionaries thought to buy, pass along, etc. (Which, as you can imagine, did not include anything hinting at teh sex.) One day when I was at the little 'library' bookshelf, I came across a slim book. I can't recall the title but I do remember that the hero was named something like Piers and it was set in Elizabethan England. Our young heroine imagines herself in love with her neighbor boy but is married off to an older man against her wishes. She spends most of the book despising him and being bitchy. He is dark, mysterious and misunderstood. They fight and keep secrets from one another and make passionate love and fight some more. ....and I loved every minute of it. le sigh. I don't believe that book ever got returned to the shelf. lol. And a young romance reader was born.

Barbara said...

Wow, I'm actually fairly new to Harlequins (shockingly) but I can tell you that the very first book I read was a Blaze and it was by, Hope Tarr. It was given to me by a friend. I loved it and have been buying and reading anything from the Blaze series to the Spice Briefs to the new Historicals Undone--which I know Wendy loves.

Beyond Bambi said...

From as long as I can remember my mom was a romance novel junkie. I can always picture my mom with a folded paged book with a super shinny cover. When I got past being say 8, I started noticing some hot couple spitt'n game on the front cover. With boxes towed away and others leisurly stacked around, I think I can say I picked up my first romance novel around 7th grade. I remember it was a Harlequin about some younge ranch girl falling for this Native hunk.
And alas, at first only to see why my mother had boxes of boxes of these books came a new romance junkie and a constant quest to hide them from my dad.

lauren said...

One thanksgiving, when I was a teenager, I was slightly annoyed to be trapped by rain and cold weather inside the family cottage where I had already read every book on the shelves more than once. My mother went into town to buy some groceries and returned with a box full of Harlequins from the 60s and 70s. I probably read 10 in two days and have been hooked ever since.

Gail said...

Some of the first Romances I read were from the now defunct Love & Laughter line. What was funniest was that several years later I was on serious tear through Jennifer Crusie's backlist, pulled Anyone But You out of the library and went "wait... I own this!". It was one of the first romances I bought, I just hadn't made note of the author at the time.
These days there's a spread sheet.

maureen said...

I first noticed harlequins through my mom back in the early 70's. She had so many piled up on her bookcase headboard that one day they fell on top of my father, who got a little peeved, put them in a box and through them off our 2nd floor porch into the backyard. Mom made him bring them back up and he never did that again( I'll never know how she did it my parents are from the west of Ireland and I remember lots of loud irish words being spoken!)
I of course thought they were dumb and stupid until I got older and started reading them. Love them now, expecially the Scicilian series. Those Italian boys get my ,and moms, flames a going.

MaryK said...

I've seen this tour progressing all month and just realized I have a comment. Good thing I happened to stumble upon the tour's last stop!

Actually, my comment is really a question. What is the best way - is there a way - to identify old Harlequins if all you know are plot points? Is there a comprehensive synopsis list somewhere? Googling doesn't work well.

I'll occasionally come across mention of an old HP that sounds good, but the commenter can't remember the title or author. Recently, it was an HP in which the heroine was sterile because of PID and the hero may've been an Iron Man competitor. Is there any way to look this kind of thing up?

Mari said...

Hi Wendy! Did I mention you are my favorite reviewer:)
Love your wit.
Anyway I am a recent convert to Harlequin books, only since I have gotten a reader. But they are addictive! I never thought I would enjoy books about Greek Billionaire's marrying virgin secretaries with secret babies so much.

Wendy said...

MaryK: has a complete list of HPs, but they don't have plot descriptions for all of them. Your best bet? Message boards. For old school books, I like the Romantic Times message boards. Those ladies have been reading romance for years, and they've helped me out in the past. Also, you might want to try the message boards over at All About Romance (AAR). But RT is always my first stop for the old school.

Mari: Your check is in the mail :)

I'm lovin' all the comments ladies! Keep 'em coming!

cheryl c said...

I have been reading Harlequins for many years. I think I started with the historical line and then expanded to just about all of the lines. I was introduced to many new authors through Harlequin, and now they are old favorites!

I have enjoyed reading all the blogs about Harlequin's anniversary. I have learned a lot of interesting facts about authors and the romance genre.

Anonymous said...

My first Harlequin was given to me by my sister. Nora Roberts Magregor series is my absolute favorite. Since then I have also glommed Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockmann's back many good reads. Now I'm trying to pick Nalini Singh's back list from Harlequin as well.

Canadian Fan

dag888888 said...

I had read Harlequin romances way way back in high school, stopped for many years and resumed reading Harlequins 8 years ago. I was very curious and wanted to see how different romance novels today are compared to the Harlequins and Mills & Boons that I had read from way way back... and I really like the new Harlequin romances, that's for sure! I read more now, in fact!

trish said...

it has been so long I cant even remember the name of the book, but I was raiding my grammy's book shelf and thought, huh that look interesting...I just had to read it, been hooked ever since (about 16 years now-WOW that dates me a bit)

etirv said...

My first ever Harlequin romance was Lillian Peake's Mist Across the Moors! The Harlequin romances today are certainly not the Harlequins of yesteryears! But you don't forget your first Harlequin!