Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Falling in Love with Romance Novels

Deb Kastner here, thinking about the first Harlequin Romance I ever picked up.

I have a selective memory. Often I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner last night, but ask me when and where I read my first Harlequin romance novel and within a split second you’ll have an answer—not only the when and where, but the title, author and genre.

I know. Crazy, right?

I’ve lived in Colorado for most of my life, but my folks are from Oregon and all our extended family still lives there, so every other year during my childhood, we’d visit Oregon for a couple of weeks on vacation. This particular year I was twelve years old and the family was having a reunion of sorts out at a lake. The adults played cards and watched the younger kids while the teenagers took the boat out on the lake. I fell somewhere in between, which often left me alone to amuse myself. Not particularly hard to do for an introvert and an avid reader.

Before we went out to the lake, we stopped by a small drugstore in John Day, Oregon to get supplies for our camping trip. Drawn to the book section, I found a revolving rack of Harlequin romances. I’d never read a romance novel before, but two titles jumped right off the rack at me—Sophie and the Prince by Sylvia Sark and Prisoner of the Harem by Julia Herbert. Both of these novels were Harlequin’s Historicals, and they looked fascinating. So while everyone else at the reunion was socializing, I was tucked in a corner with my nose in a book—well, two books. During those few days, I fell in love with the stories of strong heroines and dashing heroes. I went back to that drug store after the reunion to stock up on more books for the ride back to Colorado. Harlequin books instantly became my favorite source of reading materials.

And they still are today. I am incredibly blessed to be able to write for Love Inspired. Sometimes it still feels surreal, seeing my name on a Harlequin novel. Who would have thought that the introverted preteen alone at a family reunion would turn into an author for the very publisher she was reading?

What about you? Do you remember the first Harlequin book you ever read?


  1. LOL, I was sixteen and one of my girlfriend's big sister's had a whole box of Presents she was giving away. I snatched one (at the time I was addicted to True Love magazines, so this was a step up!)

    I don't remember the name or the author, but it was about a poor secretary who used all her money to go on a cruise so she could meet and get engaged to a wealthy man. The hero was pretending not to be wealthy because he was tired of women throwing themselves at him because of his wealth.

  2. I vividly remember my first Harlequin - Blue Jasmine by Violet Winspear. Bought it second hand at a church bazaar at a book table. I was about 13 or 14 and I fell in love. My sister and I read and re-read that book and I started getting others out of the library. My thrifty Dutch mother would never let me buy 'those' books. (I found out later she read them after I did) I devoured Harlequin romances after that. Never, in all my wildest dreams, did I think I would end up writing for that same company. My sister came to visit a year or so ago. Said she had a surprise. She found two copies of Blue Jasmine at a second-hand bookstore and bought them. One for her and one for me. We made a cup of tea, pulled out a plate of cookies, sat down and started reading. So fun..... Great question!

  3. Aren't life's twists and turns fascinating? I don't recall the title of my first Harlequin romance, but I do remember it was a historical set in England. I loved those stories. Like you, I'm amazed and honored to write for Love Inspired Historicals.

  4. I do. Jayne Ann Krentz. It was the first Desire.

  5. The first Harlequin I read was written by Janet Dailey. I don't recall the name of the book, but I read every Harlequin the library had. When I exhausted those, I had to start buying them. :)

  6. What a cute story, Deb!! My "habit" started in college when I started ordering books from the book club. I remember the excitement of having those packages arrive each month!

  7. I love this story, Deb. Though I have no idea what my first Harlequin story was about, other than two people falling in love. :)

    I, for one, am so glad that you found Harlequins and especially that you're writing for them, too.

  8. I love hearing everyone's stories about how they first encountered Harlequin. Just so blessed to know you all!

  9. I'd like to add an addendum. Deb, when you said "encounter," it triggered a memory.

    While I may not remember the first Harlequin I read, I grew up surrounded by Harlequin. I never saw my mother without one. She was a voracious reader and always read romance. I think I used to make fun of her or, at least, the covers.

    Fast forward twenty-five years. Mom moved in with us for a time, along with all of her books--hundreds of them. I pulled out some current releases and started reading. Okay, so it was the hunky Scot on the cover that intrigued me. At any rate, my love of romance novels was born. Not long after, I started writing.

    God definitely has a sense of humor. ;)


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