Harlequin & Me

As some of you may know, I have been dreaming of working at Harlequin since I was a teenager. My grandmother subscribed to the books (and still does!), then would pass them on to me. Nothing else could keep up with my need to read! I adored having a love of Harlequin novels to connect over as it was really the only thing we have in common.

For me, the company had always been so reliable. I could pick up any book in whichever line and they would have the same aesthetic –good writing, good editing, good ending. It got to the point where I was choosing my books based on who published the stories rather than who wrote them. Serious branding skills right there.

I tried applying to the company shortly after graduating from my publishing course, but I just did not have enough experience working with authors yet. I did not give up hope that someday I would end up working in the editorial department there, though. I just put it off to gain more experience in publishing and in life. Now that I am heading back to Canada soon, I started thinking about where I want to live and work… and that is when I saw a tweet from Angela James saying she would be looking for freelance editors soon!

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Review: Rescuing the Royal Runaway Bride by Ally Blake


SYNOPSIS: On the way to his childhood friend’s wedding, Will Darcy rescues a damsel in distress–the bride running away from the wedding. With the whole country in a furor, Will and Sadie plan to hide in a B&B until the media frenzy dies down and it’s safe to leave. It is supposed to be just a moment out of time, a break from their real lives, except it feels like it could become a whole lot more…

AUTHOR: With the mmc being from London and a few unfamiliar words I assumed the writer may also be British, but it turns out Ally Blake is Australian. She is an award-winning author and has a couple dozen romance novels published.

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Book Review: The Reluctant Bachelor by Syndi Powell

reluctbachSynopsis: Rick Allyn had his heart broken five years ago on a reality dating show, and trying to convince him to come back for another round to boost the ratings would be far from easy. Elizabeth Maier, producer, is certain this season will be different as finding a soulmate for someone as wonderful as Rick should be easy… except Elizabeth starts to wonder if the perfect woman for Rick is herself.

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Twins under his tree by Karen Rose Smith

twins treeWarning: May contain spoilers.

Synopsis: Troy Wescott asked his friend Mitch Cortega to watch over his wife while he was overseas… Unfortunately, Troy did not come back. The ex-combat surgeon finds himself rushing the widowed Lily to the hospital and staying with her as she gives birth to twin girls. Trying to keep his promise to Troy while fighting his attraction for Lily, Mitch has a few personal demons of his own to battle. Can love concur all?

Author: Karen Rose Smith is an award winning and bestselling author from Pennsylvania. In the last twenty years, Karen has published over 70 books and many of them with Harlequin. Her stories often include small communities, family, and emotions.

Cover: I have to say this is a usual problem with mass-market paperbacks, the covers rarely match the character descriptions entirely. The hero of the tale has an old war injury on his hand that is not on the cover… but perhaps it would not be aesthetically pleasing? Nor do the two personages on the cover look old enough to be the lead characters.

Plot: The story starts after Lily has already lost her husband and before the birth of her twins. Mitch is supportive of Lily at first, but they deem some distance between them is necessary and the story skips ahead a few months until Lily is no longer on mat leave and back in the presence of her coworker Mitch. Then they continue to fluctuate between having a relationship or not.

Romance: This may just be a personal bias, but I thought it a little… callous for a person who lost their spouse approximately six months prior be falling in love with someone else so soon. I could be suffering under the delusion of regencies where a family had to mourn a full year before remarriage could be deemed proper, but it just did not seem long enough. The novel did mention that the bereaved wife still needed more time to get over her husband, but she had already slept with the new guy.

Characters: Sophie and Grace Wescott are the babies who are integral to the story but don’t get much focus. The girls are frequently present, but apparently so well behaved that they don’t require more than a cursory glance by the adults. It was only mentioned in passing that it was their first holiday and that they would never spend time with their birthfather, it is all secondary to the relationship between Lily and Mitch.

Quote: I’m falling in love with him and it terrifies me.

The Verdict: An enjoyable read set around Christmas that perhaps would be best not read directly around Christmastime.

Sheikh, Children’s Doctor… Husband by Meredith Webber

sheikhSynopsis: Alexandra Conroy is a doctor and could not allow her patient, Samarah, to travel without medical supervision. Alex found herself in Al Janeen living in the royal palace until she felt the Sheik’s mother no longer needed her help. During her stay, an earthquake hits and causes destruction to a desert village. Alex and Sheikh Azzam hurry to help the villagers, but to protect their honour the pair must marry. Can this temporary arrangement possible become one that is a little less temporary?

Author: Meredith Webber lives in Australia and has written over fifty romance novels. Over ten years ago she saw that Harlequin was looking for medical-based novels and decided to take up the challenge. She gave herself a couple of years to see if she could get published, and found that it wouldn’t take nearly that long. She has been writing, mostly medical romances, ever since.

Cover: I haven’t seen a lot of medical romance books, particularly since Harlequin’s redesign. The model is rather good looking with captivating eyes, but the “bellyband” which contains the title, author, and brand cut through the man’s face. It would have been better to lower the stripe a bit more so as not ruin the photo. And speaking of the title, it could definitely have been improved upon.

Writing Style: An Australian in the Arabian Desert could mean some confusion for a North American with unfamiliar phraseology and spellings, but there were few Australian colloquialisms and the unusually spelt names were still pronounceable.

Romance: The relationship between Alexandra and Azzam was gradual, albeit within a short timeframe. They had an immediate attraction, but each had obligations and obstacles they felt stood in the way. When they finally admitted their love to themselves and each other, it seemed right rather than rushed.

Quote: Here I was thinking that the worst thing that could happen was another earth tremor and the mountain could fall on us, but now you tell me a very large and probably hungry [leopard] could carry me off into the night!

I have to stop laughing but you must admit it’s funny. Here I am, given a choice of facing a stray leopard on my own or marrying a prince, and I’m dithering over it. Marriage or a leopard –it’s really not a choice.

The Verdict: A cute read, particularly for those who enjoy medical romances, sheiks, marriages of convenience, and scheming exes.





Book Review: Harden by Diana Palmer

Harden by Diana PalmerSynopsis: Rancher Harden Tremayne hates women. He’s got a pretty good reason to be angry considering that women continuously do him wrong, but then he meets city girl Miranda Warren. Harden still hates the female gender except Mindy who recently lost her husband and child in a car accident. Neither of them has ever felt so drawn to someone before, but it’s the wrong time and place and maybe, the wrong people…

Writing Style: Diana Palmer’s books all have the same essence to them. They read very similar and even the plots don’t have much variety. Nevertheless, they all have a sort of “feel good” quality that makes you want to keep picking up her books.

Hook: Find out why Harden hates women and what happens when a woman-hater finally falls in love.

Plot: Harden goes to Chicago for a cattle convention and meets the recently widowed Mindy. A few months later Harden goes back to visit Miranda and convinces her to come back to the ranch with him.

Location: Half the book takes place on the Tremayne ranch, but the other half is in Chicago. It alternates between rancher in the city and city girl on the ranch… the only catch being that Mindy grew up on a ranch and isn’t so much of a city girl as she pretends to be.

Character: Evan is one of the older Tremayne brothers and often takes on a role of protecting his other brothers from hurt, particularly when it is their own behaviour that is doing the damage.  Evan may be big and intimidating, but he’s actually a softy who tries to resolve his brothers’ relationship issues. The catch being that Evan is the only bachelor left and really shouldn’t be giving out advice because it isn’t always good advice.

Romance: The relationship between Harden and Miranda is bad everything. Mindy is recently widowed and lost her child so it is bad timing. Mindy lives in Chicago and, for a rancher like Harden, it’s a bad place. To top things off, Harden hates women so the idea of falling in love is not necessarily something he’d be overjoyed about, especially considering Mindy won’t stay out of what he considers his personal business and tries to patch up Harden’s differences with his family. But the two have chemistry, so what should be wrong, feels right, and just might be perfect.

Quote: Life isn’t perfect. This minute is all we really have. No yesterdays. No tomorrows. There’s only the present. Everything else is a memory or a daydream.

The Verdict: If you’ve ever been wondering about the illegitimate Tremayne brother, you’ll want to pick up Harden’s story, and if you have never been curious, it is still a good book.


Book Review: The Surgeon’s Fatherhood Surprise by Jennifer Taylor

The Surgeon’s Fatherhood Surprise by Jennifer TaylorSynopsis: Bachelor Jack Tremayne got the surprise of his life when he found out he was a father. Giving up his party-boy life, Jack returns to his hometown for family support in his new single parent life. He soon has the added complication of falling for his neighbour, single-mother Alison Myers.

Author: Jennifer Taylor has written over 50 medical novels with Mills & Boon, a partnered company of Harlequin based in England where Jennifer lives. She started writing for Mills & Boon with their Tender Romance line, but soon switched to writing medical romances as well.

Plot: The story had real potential but seemed as thought it could have been a little “deeper” in emotion and theme. Jack spends very little time with his son, Freddie, and more time thinking about Alison though he claims he needs to focus on Freddie.

Character: I would have liked to see more of Freddie as he is the reason that Jack has moved back home and tries to avoid falling for Alison. Much of the scenes involving Freddie are of Jack trying to find him a babysitter or taking him to the nursery; rarely does Jack seem to spend time with Freddie unless Alison is also there.

Character Development: It didn’t feel as though the characters changed at all. It is implied that Jack has adjusted his life-style, but that happens before the book takes place. All the characters remained fairly static throughout the novel other than Jack and Alison giving into falling in love at the end, without it affecting who they are as people.

Location: It is quite obvious that the story takes place in the United Kingdom, right up to the point where it becomes a bit of a problem. There is a way to balance a sense of place without making the reader seem like an outsider. There were some British-ism that confuse to the point it pulls your attention from the book just trying to figure out what things mean.

Quote: “Life is all black and white at their age, isn’t it? There’s no grey bits.”

The Verdict: Unless you really like medical romances, give this one a pass. The only thing this novel has going for it are the scenes involving the hospital with Jack treating the patients. There are well written, believable, and enjoyable surgical scenes, which almost make up for the lack of “family” that the book’s back-copy implied.

What would you do if you found yourself suddenly responsible for a child?