Today we’re going to talk about Romance Novels.

(GASP!)

Don’t get upset, dear and loyal internet reader(s) (hi mom!). I love reading romance. And, thankfully, there are a number of wonderful exceptions to the above rule, one of my favorites among them being Sandra Hill, who writes top-notch, very erotic, funny and all around great romances about vikings that become navy seals, and vice versa. Seriously.

I love romance novels because it’s fun to think about romance. It’s fun to be involved in romance. I won’t get into a lengthy discourse on whether books function to help us “get lost in imagination” or any of that hoo-ha (no offence to the academics and artsy types that spend their time holding refreshingly named drinks, snapping their fingers, and having these discussions!). Instead, I would like to talk about…

HARLEQUIN.

Harlequin is funny; while the book publishing industry in general is floundering, trying to stay ‘current’ and using every cheap trick in the book to try and sell their wares, Harlequin has actually been doing comparatively well. I read somewhere that the average Harlequin reader ‘consumes’ 3 books per week.

YOWZA!

My favourite quote from the website is probably this, from the Desire page:

“Unexpected and new takes on classic plot lines, such as secret pregnancies, marriages of convenience and reunion romances, are welcome.”

Getting what you want when you buy a book is really important. And if you want to read about secret pregnancies or reunion romances over and over again, then more power to you, obviously, Harlequin is ready to provide.

It’s clear that Harlequin is doing SOMETHING right. Which is why I am now going to write my own versions of some of those ‘classic plot lines’. I assume that fame and riches will follow basically immediately.

Without further ado:

MY TAKE ON THE “Fake-dating a dude you don’t like in order to get something important and then accidentally falling in love with him” PLOT LINE:

Brittany took a deep breath and gritted her teeth as she rushed to the door of her tiny, cramped but tastefully and quirkily decorated apartment. It was just like Coleman to knock and THEN ring the doorbell. Coleman Matthews was possible the most infuriating man Brittany had ever met. That didn’t change the fact that he was the only man who could save her sister from wrongful imprisonment in the jungles of Guatemala. And Brittany would do anything to save her sister – including spending time with the boorish, rude Coleman.

Brittany stopped briefly in front of the hallway mirror to double check her appearance on her way from the bedroom. Her hair was polished, in a sleek ponytail befitting the Diplomat’s Ball. Oh, Coleman knew that she hated events like this one. But that didn’t stop him from hinging his promise of help on her attendance this evening. How could she refuse when her sister’s very LIFE hung in the balance?

She swung the door open, a look of utter contempt plastered on her face. That look softened almost immediately, however, as what greeted her wasn’t Coleman… but Coleman holding orchids.

“Orchids! My favorite!”

“I know. I used my diplomatic immunity to do some research on your private life.”

It took all of Brittany’s self control not to yell ‘How Romantic!’, but she managed to contain herself.

“My heavens, Brittany… you look magnificent! Like the sunset over the waters of Spain’s southern coast!”

‘Hmmm,’ Brittany thought, ‘Maybe this devastatingly handsome guy who’s willing to help me get my sister out of a foreign jail isn’t so bad after all.’

When they arrived at the dinner, Brittany noticed immediately that Coleman was very proud to have her as a date. BUT INSTEAD OF COMING UP WITH SOME TOTALLY RIDICULOUS, IMPLAUSIBLE AND AWFUL MOTIVATION FOR THIS BEHAVIOUR, WHICH WOULD FUEL THE CONFLICT FOR THE REST OF THE BOOK AND STEAL ANY SYMPATHY WE MAY HAVE HAD FOR BRITTANY AS A PROTAGONIST, she simply realized that he must like her, and decided he wasn’t such a dick after all.

THE END

MY TAKE ON THE “Secret Pregnancy” ROMANCE PLOT LINE

Adelaide knew she shouldn’t have slept with her boss. Rex Stern was like dry ice: hot and cold at the same time, never good at parties, and impossible for a woman like her to understand. She could never let him know that she was pregnant… with HIS child. Not only would it ruin her chances with this distant, mysterious man that clearly needed love to open his heart, but it would likely cost her her job. Rex wasn’t known for being physically cruel, but he was harsh and direct.

“Adelaide?”

She turned around from the photocopy machine to find Rex standing right behind her. His presence filled the small space, and heat rose in her nether regions.

“Would you make twenty copies of this, please?” his voice was husky, strong, but somehow tender, as if underneath his Alpha exterior, he had some vulnerability to display, if only a woman could find a way to open his heart.

The surge of emotions that filled Adelaide at the thought of his tenderness of three weeks before – IN THE BEDROOM – was almost too much for her to bear. Before she could stop herself, heat wasn’t the only thing that was rising. She barfed all over Rex.

“Geez, what’s with you?” he asked, “Are you pregnant or something?”

…I guess it’s not a secret any more.