Thursday, January 10, 2013

Do You Remember Your First Harlequin?

The summer before I turned twelve, I was at the local Woolworth's eating lunch with my mom and grandma when I noticed they had put in a new book selection in the store. While we waited, I decided to browse and came across my first Harlequin--not sure which series but it had a green blocked cover with a couple on the front. It was about a photographer who married his secretary in a MOC. They were $1.99 then and as I only got $2 for my allowance, I could only but one every other week(hey, a girl has to go to the skating rink to enhance her own love life!) The sweet thing is that my grandma knew how much I loved to read so she'd always slip me a couple of bucks if I ran short.

Patty Nell

I was a late starter. I was thirty-three when I read my first Harlequin (Silhouette, actually). It was an Intimate Moments by Kathleen Eagle. I have no recollection how I picked it up, but it's still on my bookshelf.

Jean C. Gordan

I was probably 13 or 14 years old and my older sister brought home her first Harlequin Romance novel called To Trust My Love by Sandra Fields. She read it and my mother read it. Then I snuck it and read it too. My mother didn't know I was reading the books after she was. My younger sister started reading them too after that. So when new books came in the house, we'd pass them around, and put our initials in the top inside cover so we'd remember which ones we'd read.The only reason why I remember the title of the first book is because my sister had gone to London several years later and found an original Mills and Boon book copy of the book in a book store. She was so excited about it, she had to buy it. Unfortunately, she'd lost it by the time she went from the hotel to the plane for the ride home. So when I began writing romance, I found a copy of it online in a store in Texas and sent it to her. That book started it all for me.

Lisa Mondello

I was a mom with three young children when I read my first romance. A friend gave me Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, an Avon publication. I was blown away and read all her other books as well. After I joined Georgia Romance Writers, I started to read Harlequin romances and loved Intrigues and Shadows, which was in imprint at that time. Gayle Wilson and Rita Herron were--and still are--my favorite authors in the Intrique line.

Debby Giusti

I was sixteen when I read my first Harlequin. It was a Presents, I remember that, but don't remember the title or author. I vaguely remember an ocean cruise and a working class woman who meets a wealthy man. The book really wasn't put in my hand, rather a box was. See, I'd just gotten my driver's license and had driven over to pick up my friend Julie. We really had no place to go (Hey, it was Nebraska in the 70s) and so went to see her married big sister, who I'd not met before. The big sister discovered I liked to read and said, "Here, I was wondering what to do with these. I've read them all." She, then, handed me a brown box with about thirty Presents in it. Over the next few months, I read them.

Pamela Tracy

I was about 18 when I started reading Harlequin romance novels. I'm almost positive I was reading from the Presents line. I actually joined the book club and remember getting those boxes of books in my dorm room! Reading was a guilty pleasure when I should have been studying. :)

Missy Tippens

I've been a very avid reader all my life, but when I graduated from my childhood favorites of Trixie Belden and Hardy Boys type books, most of my reading material came from the library or the Doubleday and Science Fiction Book Clubs. So I didn't stumble across Harlequin books until I was nearly out of college. I somehow ended up with a book called Cinderella In Mink by Roberta Leigh for the Harlequin Romance line - I believe a neighbor gave it to my mother who passed it on to me. I was intrigued by the title and it looked like a quick read which is what I was looking for at the time. It captured me from page one and I absolutely loved it. I can still remember the storyline to this day. It was a great introduction to what great stories Harlequin offers to its readers.

Winnie Griggs

Age when you read your first Harlequin: Sometime in my teens

What series was it? Mills & Boon romance,

How did it arrive in you hot little hand. I think I picked it up at a used bookstore or some such and I think it was a Betty Neels. Still love her.

Lyn Cote

I was in my thirties when I read my first Harlequin--really it was a Silhouette Desire, Jayne Anne Krentz. I had read a single title by her and found the Desire and started reading. That was it. (I think that book was #1 or 2) I was hooked for good and went through every line.

LeAnn Harris

I was a teenager when I read my first Harlequin Presents by Anne Mather. I don't remember the title nor what the story was about except the hero was a Greek millionaire. I enjoyed it enough that I read more Harlequin books after that first one.

Margaret Daley

I didn't read my first Harlequin until I was in my mid-thirties. I happen to read something by Janet Dailey, a condensed book in Good Housekeeping magazine. Right after that we were taking a car trip, and I wanted something to read. So I went to the library to look for something by Janet Dailey. I discovered that she had written dozens of Harelquin Presents, so I checked one out. I was hooked from then on. I read all the Harlequins the library had to offer. Then I read my first Silhouette by Nora Roberts, her first book.

Merrillee Whren

I starting reading Harlequin books when I was in high school, only I didn't know what they were. My grandmother was an avid reader and every time I went to her house, which was often, I would read two or three of the books she had lying around. It wasn't until I decided to pursue publication that was I reintroduced to Harlequin and realized these were the same sort of books I read at my grandmothers.

Terri Reed

I read my first Harlequin Romance when I was in 7th grade. I loved to read and I worked as a volunteer at the Library over the summer. I was in charge of putting up returned books and there was a huge wall of Harlequin Romance...I picked up one discovered immediately that, though I was a huge tomboy, I was a romantic at heart. I loved the strong heroes, the stories of heroines in other countries, the quick pace and the security of knowing there was going to be a happy ending. I was hooked!

Debra Clopton

I read my first Harlequin when I was around twelve or thirteen. I had a great aunt (Lillibelle) who was a nurse. She read all the Betty Neels nurse books and when I'd go visit her in Florida (Panama City) she'd loan them to me. She would put check marks in the front cover to show whether she liked the book or not. Usually, they all had four checks. And she would remind me that they belonged to her and she expected them back when I was finished. I still remember sitting in a metal glider on her front porch, reading away while my parents visited with Aunt Lillibelle and Uncle Lee. It was amazing to me that she had offered me this gift and even more amazing that I wanted to write such books one day. I've only had one book with a nurse heroine, but I do owe my love of Harlequin to Aunt Lillibelle. And Betty Neels.

Lenora Worth

I was around fourteen years old when I read my first Harlequin. I don't remember what line, or the author's name, but I can still picture the cover. It had a lot of palm trees and a fiery tropical sunset. I chose it because my family was about to go on a vacation to Hawaii and that was the setting for the book. I gobbled it up and immediately bought two more, which I took with me on that vacation.

Teri Wilson


  1. This is funny. And a sweet trip down memory lane.

    I remember yellow Harlequins among my grandmother's things... she went through them like a religion - when she got a new book she would dedicate her all time to reading and only to reading - to big despair of her elder daughters, who wouldn't have help in the house chores while she was at it, and for my grandfather because she would take the book to the table during meals, which was a big NO in our home; but since forbiding her would mean she would leave the table without eating he pretended she wasn't there, doing that.

    When she died - I must have been around 7 - her daughters threw all her books away. :(

    One day, around 15 I saw a Harlequin (I no longer lived with my Aunts but with my parents in other town 300 miles away) and had to buy to learn what she read and why so much engagement. (my first story was something of a Marine and his girl very much in the line of "An Officer and a Gentleman")

    When I took them on vacations with me to my Aunts' they would say I read with the same intensity and craving she did... one Summer my mother called and told she'd bought me a new one and I almost came walking the 310 miles to have it LOL

    When I tried to learn how did my grandmother got her books where we lived I learned that not even her daughters knew because she never said (they suspected the salesmen that went from town to town selling a bit of everything had orders from her to buy them in the capital and take them to her)

    Funny that today my daughter look to my novels very much in the fashion I looked to granny's "It's Mum's books"... wonder when she'll start reading them out of curiosity.


  2. Where, up, I say grandmother it's my greatgrandmother.

  3. I was in high school and my first Harlequin was actually one of the books from the Love Inspired line. I don't remember the title.

  4. Teresa,
    What a great story. Do you mind if I share it with Danica?

  5. Carissa,
    Oh, to be that young. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. Pamela,
    Feel free to use it. You're too kind.

  7. In case anyone was wondering. . .

    I'm the Patty Nell from the first story. When I read it this morning, I flashbacked to high school when my parents were constantly using my first and middle name in their efforts to correct me!

    Is it any wonder I dropped it and go by Patty Smith Hall?

  8. Patty,
    I'm laughing. All I do is cut and paste what you send. I do remember having a moment where I thought "Do I know a writer named Patty Nell?"
    Then, menopausal me thought, "I probably do."

  9. I used to read a haliquin teen line back in the latr 70's early 80's.

  10. I loved reading the Mills and Boon line of Harlequins as a young child (circa 1969). I recently re-purchased copies of my favorite classic Harlequin titles by Mary Wibberly just to have on my bookshelf. I recall my father going to a yard sale when I was in college, and buying for me about 15 copy-paper boxes filled with Harlequin Presents - about 500 in all. I think he paid $20. "You'll never have to buy another romance book again" he told me proudly. Snort. Sorry Dad. Not by a long shot :-) I did have a lot of fun reading all those titles. Took me about a year and a half.

  11. I don't remember the time when I started that particular book series but I started with "True Story"magazine that My mom bought, I love to read and picked up many of the Nancy Drew books then later when married MIL read many mysteries like HOLT and Wilder and Eugenia Price books so read those, so was later years when I picked my own and started reading LI books, like hstorical best, but read all the diff types. I just love to read....
    Paula O(

  12. So, Jenny, how many do you think you've read to date?

  13. Pol,
    I used to send my allowance on those magazines. I remember the titles were so alluring, but the stories very calm LOL
    The only name you mentioned that I didn't read is Price.

  14. Oh, Jenna, I love the story of your dad buying all those books. My dad would have done and thought the same thing!

  15. What fun!! I love hearing allof these stories.

  16. I want to share one more story--

    Years ago, I was in the hospital for three weeks with my first back surgery. I was in traction about 12 to 15 hours a day so my new husband, being the sweet man that he is, went to the used bookstore and bought out every Harlequin they had--four paper grocery sacks full! I read one or two books a day while I was in the hospital--but I look back on that now and realize God was preparing me even then to write for Love Inspired Historical.

  17. No Idea Pamela. the teen line had 2 a month i think and i got them and another line so aroun 4 a month and loved them. LI i got a few of the early ones but would be 30+ a year probably more but lots of tbr ones got quite behind last year. I have read one so far this year.

  18. I was in sixth grade when I read my first Harlequin. It was a book called "The Ice Maiden" by Sally Wentworth. I thought it was such a sophisticated story. A woman, with the aide of her friends, decides to do a scientific experiment about falling in love. They target a famous, rich playboy and send the heroine to the ski resort where he is vacationing. To this day I remember the glorious feeling I had reading it. It started me on my love of Harlequin.


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