May 31, 2017

Farewell to some favorite Harlequin category lines

On May 16th, Harlequin announced that they were closing five of their category romance lines and sending shock through the romance publishing world. The closing of some of Harlequin lines means your readers may be searching for more books like the ones they loved, as after December, 2018 the search string GN “category romances” will no longer include new books from those lines.

If you’re not familiar with category romances, they are shorter romances written in alignment with a publisher’s guidelines, including length, sexual and graphic content, tone, and plot complexity. For non- category romance readers, these strictures can sound limiting, but it doesn’t have to be. Like Shakespeare with a sonnet, a good category romance author can use the “rules” to play with the very idea of rules to create groundbreaking works. Sarah Morgan’s Harlequin Presents books are the perfect example of this. Morgan keeps to all the Present key elements, but she knows the rules so well that she can twist and bend them to her own storyline. 

The sheer volume of category novels Harlequin publishes each month also means both the publisher and the author can take a few risks. For example, my books (I write for Harlequin's Superromance line, one of the lines being discontinued) have included a heroine who is HIV+ and one who lost her Olympic gold medal because she doped. Flawed? Check. Non-traditional? Check. Interesting? I hope so!

NoveList can help! Besides our search strategy for finding the right romance, here are some search string suggestions to help you find books for those readers whose favorite authors are looking for new publishers.

Kimani: the go-to line for fans of multicultural romances

Kimani Romance has been around since 2006 and is the only African-American category line in the market. The last Kimani Romance will be released in December, 2018. Kimani Romance features sophisticated characters who lead lives of drama and passion. To find more romances in NoveList like Kimani, here’s a quick way to search for genres GN “multicultural romances” AND GN “Contemporary romances” or GN “African American fiction” AND GN “Contemporary romances.” Looking for some good appeal terms? Mix in sassy, fast-paced, high-drama, and steamy to help you find the perfect mix. Hopefully the close of Kimani is a sign that Harlequin will be including more African-American authors in their other lines.

Love Inspired Historical: faith-based historical romances

Love Inspired Historical was part of a complete set of Christian-focused lines that includes Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. These books have a Christian worldview, no graphic violence or pre-marital sex, and strong family and community elements. Many Love Inspired Historical readers were more interested in the chaste stories than the explicit faith and you can find books for these readers by searching GN “historical romances” AND AP chaste. To make sure the readers interested in a faith element find something to read, search GN “Christian historical fiction.”

Superromance: contemporary romance with more

Harlequin Superromances are longer stories with deeper character backstories and a bigger scope, meaning more flawed characters and intricate plotlines. Readers may be happy with many of the contemporary romances on the market today, so search GN “contemporary romances” and use character appeal terms like well-developed, flawed, authentic, and relatable to narrow down your results.

The loss of Harlequin Nocturne and Harlequin Western Romance are a reflection of the downswing in Western and paranormal romance popularity. Harlequin Nocturne fans should search NoveList for genres like fantasy romances, time-travel romances, paranormal romances and futuristic romances—ask them whether they prefer space travel, epic quests, vampires, or time travel and let their answer guide you. Harlequin Western Romance fans should search GN “western romances.”

Want to know more about genres in NoveList? We have a free genre guide to help you understand the difference between futuristic romances (GN “futuristic romances”) and science fiction with a romantic tone (GN "science fiction" AND AP "romantic”), as well as more tips for searching NoveList by genre and appeal. Don’t miss our free guide to appeals either. With these two guides you’ll be ready to help even the most choosy romance reader. 


Jennifer Lohmann is a NoveList Consultant.





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