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Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Harlequin Romance Novel

Employing around 2,000 writers and cover artists, Harlequin Enterprises has created a system that turns the writing of romance novels into a kind of science. With strict guidelines as to length (exactly 192 pages for Harlequin Presents novels), and content (plots "should not be too grounded in harsh realities"; writers should avoid such topics as drugs, terrorism, politics, sports, and alcoholic heroes), Harlequin does not allow much room for pesky creativity that could lead to failure. Traditional romance novels all loosely follow the same general formula: a young and beautiful heroine with a romantic name such as Salena, Storm or Ariana, meets a rakishly handsome man, often older, often darkly brooding, with a romantic name such as Bolt, Colt, or Holt. They encounter difficulties--perhaps she is unsure for most of the novel whether the man is hero or villain--but by the end of the novel they are passionately reconciled. Happy endings are an absolute requisite for the Harlequin Romance.

Tina Gianoulis, Encyclopedia, June 1999 

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