Saturday, September 06, 2008

Happy Anniversary American Romance!

Readers, please help us welcome Johanna Raisanen, Associate Editor for American Romance. She's joining us today to kick off our 25th Anniversary Celebration!

Twenty-five years is pretty special. A lot has happened in that time here at Harlequin and with HAR. But along with the changes, some things endure. We’ve noticed readers are drawn to certain themes, characters, and settings, and want to see them over and over. Let’s start with setting because that is one of the key elements that defines HAR novels. While all settings are welcome, the western states are the ones that seem to appeal to our readers the most. Whether it’s the Hill Country in Texas, the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, or the big blue skies of Montana, the land of the cowboy reigns. I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out why, either. These settings represent freedom and wide-open space and adventure, and the characters who inhabit these places are so appealing because they are strong, independent, and self-reliant.

The western setting leads me to the next constant in AR. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about—the cowboy. Those swaggering, horse-riding, Stetson-wearing heroes so many of us sigh over. On a personal note, I’ll confess that for years I didn’t understand the appeal of the cowboy. Living in the city, I had never seen one except in old western movies. Then I was in Vegas one year during the NFR, the National Finals Rodeo, and there were cowboys everywhere. Well, let’s just say, YUM! Hmm. What was I talking about… Oh yes. The enduring appeal of the cowboy hero. These rugged, handsome men are the charmers, the bad boys, and the white knight all rolled up into one. What’s not to love?

Thinking about cowboys brings me to what goes on in the bedroom, and the sometimes unexpected results of what takes place between a man and a woman…. That’s right, I’m talking about babies! All American Romances are about family, and what says family better than adorable babies. I think part of the enduring appeal of babies, kids and pregnant heroines is how they reflect the changes in the hero. The most alpha-est hero can turn to mush when up against a helpless baby. The most rugged cowboy turns protective of a pregnant woman. The baddest of the bad boys can be brought to his knees by a little girl in pigtails. Family, babies, kids. And a man who takes responsibility for his family is the sexiest hero in my book.

American Romance is really about how our families are our shelter in the storm, our armor against an ever-changing world. Family is what makes us stronger, even when individual members drive us crazy. The heroes and heroines in HAR novels are looking for their place in the world, and often that means within a family setting. Think of all the stories of single parents finding a second chance at love, of blended families, extended families—you’ll find them in American Romance. Why? Because family is what matters most.

There are many wonderful stories in American Romance, and all of them celebrate the joys of family, the warmth of community, and the magic of finding your true hero. So, raise a virtual glass with me and let’s toast to twenty-five more years of Love, Home & Happiness with American Romance!

Johanna Raisanen
Associate Editor
American Romance

18 comments:

Ann Roth said...

Welcome, Johanna. We're so excited that you're here! I loved reading your post, and of course I love both reading and writing Harlequin American novels.

Tell us, is there anything you especially love in a submission?

Nancy said...

Congrats to all the folks who make the HAR line so special!

Tara Bradley said...

I've been reading Harlequin American novels for 20 years and I absolutely LOVE them!! Love going to the store and picking up 5 at a time and reading in that week! :o)

Trish Milburn said...

Hey, Johanna! Thanks for posting today, and sharing your insights into what makes American special. I'm right there with you on loving the cowboys. :)

Tara and Nancy, thanks so much for your comments and support of the American line. Those of us who write for it really, really appreciate it.

Okay, now here's a timeout for a squee at seeing my book on the sidebar for the first time! I saw it on the shelves at Wal-Mart a couple of days ago and stood there grinning like a fool. :)

Hope Chastain said...

What a wonderful post! I know I love stories set in the west, even without cowboys, or cowboy stories, even if they take place elsewhere! Thank you, Johanna, for ennumerating everything that makes Harlequin American so special! Mom and I are both reading one right now and enjoying it so much!

Trish: How exciting! So happy for you!

Anita Birt said...

I'm not one of your authors but my good friend, Lee MacKenzie is, and I really loved her books. I write for an e-pub and my first book with Cerridwen Press debuts in print this fall. I notice one of Lee's books is e-published now. A great way to keep books alive and well for a long time.

Shelley Galloway said...

Thanks, Johanna, for taking time to visit our blog!
Gosh, cowboys and Vegas~what an awesome combination!
I first fell in love with the American Romance line because of the sense of community. No matter where the books are set, the settings and characters are so alive, the place seems like a wonderful place to live.

Shelley

Sara said...

It doesn't seem possible that it is 25 years that HAR have been published. I truly enjoy them as they are well written and have really good characters.

Jennifer Faye said...

Johanna, thanks for stopping by and blogging. I'm a big HAR fan. Besides the settings and cowboys, I love the fast pace of HAR's and the quirky secondary characters that add flavor to the story. It's my favorite series.

Trish, congrats on your first HAR book!!!

Trish Milburn said...

Jennifer and Hope, thanks so much!

Marin Thomas said...

Johanna--thanks for taking the time to blog about the American Romance line!

Not until I lived in Dallas then Houston did I learn to really appreciate cowboys!

What I like most about writing books for the HAR line is that I have the freedom to create my small town atmosphere almost anywhere in America...from a traditional rural country map dot, to a Hollow in the Appalachian Mountains, to a small borough in Queens, to a barrio in Los Angeles, to a major city like Detroit. I believe HAR books have been very successful in creating a sense of community in both traditional and non-traditional settings.

Marin
www.marinthomas.com

Estella said...

Love the HAR line!
Happy 25th.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on 25yrs! Thanks Johanna for the insight into the series.
-MarcieR

Anonymous said...

Congrats-I have been reading American Romance books for ages and enjoyed everyone of them. I enjoy reading the types of stories that reflect families and their conflicts and resolutions.
JOYE

Victoria Chancellor said...

Thanks, Johanna, for your comments about American Romances. I've been reading them for about twenty years (Wow, has it been that long?) and my 10th American just came out in July. I still have lots of Anne Stuart HARs on my keeper shelves. Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I re-read FALLING ANGEL. I love the sense of community she created in Angel Falls, MN, and I love the way the reformed yuppie found a home. (I also have a soft spot for paranormals, which I wrote before joining the HAR family.) Thanks again for sharing your expertise.
Victoria Chancellor

Kara Lennox said...

Hi, Johanna! Lovely post, you really summed it up nicely.

I started reading HARs at the very beginning. I remember finding one of Anne Stuart's very first ones at an airport when I was stranded on Thanksgiving. The story made me forget where I was!

I started submitting manuscripts to them immediately, but it took me just a little while to actually sell to HAR (like, um, 15 years!)

Barbara White Daille said...

Johanna,

Thanks for the great post about Harlequin American!

You summed up all the things that make me love reading--and writing for--the line.

Here's to the next 25!

Best,

Barbara
http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone! I'm sorry I wasn't around to respond to the comments on Saturday, but I don't have a computer at home (shocker, I know!) and couldn't check in.

I'm a big fan of the sense of community in HAR, too. And there are some terrific secondary characters who inhabit those communities. The feisty grandmas, the nosy neighbors, the best friends--they all add richness to the lives of the main characters!

Thanks for coming out and celebrating with us!

Johanna