I receive a daily deals report from Publishers Marketplace, listing which agents sold which books to which publishers. And what kinds of books.
Help - I'm trapped in the wrong genre. 99% of the books sold (okay, I exaggerate, maybe it's 70%) are women's fiction, and no, ladies, this does not mean chick lit. We are talking about Harlequin Romances, or, what we called in my family "Mom's Books." Harlequin Romances of the 60's boasted titles like A Case of Heart Trouble, whose cover depicted a nurse in an embrace with a man in a tuxedo - presumably a wealthy and troubled cardiac surgeon in need of her own special brand of TLC. Or Take All My Loves, featuring a couple of guys in a rowboat, a plaintive brunette looking out on them, thinking what? I hope the hitman I hired does a good job? Maybe they'll fall in love with each other and leave me alone?
My dad periodically warned that he would cut off my mother's supply of Harlequins, as they threatened to take over every flat surface of our home. But of course their favorite nesting spot was the top of the toilet tank. You could always count on a bit of entertainment while taking care of business...which sometimes extended your stay in the "smallest room" if the heroine were particularly winsome, the hero exceptionally virile.
My sisters and I had a method for reading "Mom's books." Read the first chapter, then the last page. That pretty much gave you the whole story, though I believe one of us, who shall remain nameless, actually confessed to -horrors - reading one IN ITS ENTIRETY.
Harlequins are still going strong, though I believe they now contain depictions of real sexual activity, as opposed to the chaste descriptions of my mother's books: His hand brushed her ear, almost as if by accident. But he kept it there. No accident then. She blushed becomingly, as he bent down and pressed his lips to hers. His mouth was clean, and she detected an aroma of mint mixed with the manly scent of pipe tobacco. Timidly at first, and later with more gusto, she returned his kisses, her head in the clouds with her feet, winglike, poised to follow, bearing her upwards, into the heavenly atmosphere of true love.