Rediscovering Harlequin

When I was a youngster, oh so many years ago, my mom would drop me off at the public library while she went to do my grandmother’s hair on Saturday mornings. Although I often went straight downstairs to the the kids area, I loved exploring all of the sections of the library. One morning, when I had checked out my books, but I still had time, I found this bookcase upstairs that had short books so I took a look. It was a whole bookcase full of the monthly Harlequins. I sat down, started to read, and was HOOKED. Knowing that I could never actually check these out, my weekly ritual changed as I now started my visit by reading a Harlequin and then quickly going downstairs to grab some appropriate books to check out before my mother picked me up. I remember trying to be all sneaky so the librarians wouldn’t see me picking one of the adult romances, lol. I don’t really remember how long this went on before the Saturday visits ended, but I still remember those covers and the thrill of forbidden reading.

I’ve been running our Friends of the Library book sale out of my house/garage since the pandemic reared its ugly head. Every week I go and pick up 4 boxes of books to try and sell on our Facebook page. Imagine my delight when I opened up a whole box of Harlequin romances! I tried to sell them, but not one was willing to admit, publicly at least, that they read them. As I boxed them back up I grabbed a few and set them aside and a few nights ago I read A Mistress, A Scandal, A Ring by Angela Bissell.

A Mistress, A Scandal, A Ring (Ruthless Billionaire Brothers)

It didn’t take me long, these books are easy to skim, and, surprisingly, I found it enjoyable. For someone living on Hallmark movies the last month or so this felt just right somehow. A rich, sexy man with a chip on his shoulder and a nurse with a giving heart is the bread and butter for these stories. It managed to have a decent storyline in a low page count and I’m glad I read it since it managed to bring back some fun memories.

What about you? Have you ever read a Harlequin? What scandalous book or books did you read as a kid?

9 thoughts on “Rediscovering Harlequin

  1. Diane says:

    Too funny Stacy – I think most of us had a sneaky thing or two we did growing up. A friend and I took an unfiltered Camel (my dads) or Lucky Strike cigarette (her moms) and went down my the train tracks near our house to smoke it – disgusting I know as we were probably only 10 or 11 and fortunately I never enjoyed it!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Haha! Very sneaky. My dad was a chain smoker and I was always so disgusted by it that I’ve never even tried a cigarette. Luckily we were both ‘scared straight’. Gage is 10 and I made him try coffee (long story) and he hated it so I imagine cigarettes at his age would taste pretty gross.

  2. kaysreadinglife says:

    I read Harlequins too, way into my 20’s. They were economical to buy, especially at the used bookstore. You know, there are a lot of ‘very successful’ authors that started their careers writing Harlequin romances. Barbara Delinsky, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber and I think even Tess Gerritsen. Likely there are more who started with ‘series romance’. I do remember that my father used to be a bit concerned about what I read when I was in my early teens. He would ask my mother if she ‘vetted’ my reading (she didn’t). Ha! This from the man that handed me The Godfather and told me to read it when I was 13 or 14. I did – my first adventure into really gory crime novels.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Haha about the Godfather! Sounds like a typical dad to be worried about sex but okay with gory murder. Some of that goes on here. Some of the things I find out that Jason’s let Gage watch make me crazy. When I did NaNo and wrote a book in a month I was totally channeling Harlequin! I guess I’m somewhat surprised that there is still a market for it, but happy that there is if for no other reason than to give newbie authors a chance.

  3. Nise' (Under the Boardwalk) says:

    My best friend growing up were twins. We would raid their mom’s paper bags full of Harlequins and read them together. Back then they were pretty tame, but we thought we were getting away with something. Lots of authors that I read now got there start writing them.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      That must have been a fun bag! I remember doing the same thing when we visited family friends when I was an early teen. She was older and had a closetful of Harlequins. She told me I could read whatever I wanted and I spend more time reading in the bedroom than my parents liked 🙂

  4. Literary Feline says:

    I got into Harlequin romances when I was a teenager. I especially liked the Harlequin Intrigue line because I liked the added mystery with the romance. I got away from reading straight romance at all years and years ago. And while I don’t really read Harlequin romances all that much anymore, I have discovered a new found enjoyment of the romance genre in the last several years.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I still love a good romance, but don’t read then regularly like I used to. I need more romance in my life, especially now that the Hallmark Christmas movies will be a thing of the past 🙂

  5. Gofita says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read one before. I have a hard time with romance since they get a bit cheesy or too much focus on sex or the whole alpha male and damsel in distress stereotype but I do feel like there are more options nowadays. So I’ve actually read a couple of good romance books over the last few years.

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