The Elephant in the Room

Our Risky Regencies blog is not really the place to discuss Harlequin’s recent announcement that they were adding a vanity press component targetted specifically to writers who aspire to write for Harlequin. If any of you are not aware of the issue, Keira amassed a great list of sites discussing it on her blog Cognitations and Meditation.

I’ve been consumed by this issue since its announcement, so there’s no way I could blog today without mentioning it. As a Harlequin Historical author, I was particularly upset about this venture’s name (Harlequin Horizons–now withdrawn by Harlequin) and its double H logo, because it was distressingly similar to Harlequin Historicals logo. This article was posted by the New Yorker, using a Harlequin Historical cover to illustrate, rather proving the point. If you follow the comments, mine is the one asking the writer to remove the cover. She did and she apologized.

I’m in total support of Romance Writers of America’s immediate and tough stance, even though the consequences of the position will affect Harlequin authors like me.

So…. Since we’re talking about elephants, let me mention that you might be able to find my December Harlequin book, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, in bookstores this week. If you can’t find it, ask for it, especially in a Barnes & Noble, where it may be shelved after the Zs in the single title romances. Check out my website and its new content, including Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady’s Behind the Book which should be posted today.

How do elephants relate to my December book and the Risky Regencies blog?

Well, the hero and heroine of Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady visit The Egyptian Hall, Bullock’s Museum in Piccadilly. Opened in 1812, it contained William Bullock’s collection of artifacts, including display after display of “stuffed” animals. You can see in this engraving that there is a “stuffed” elephant on display. Napoleon’s carriage, captured at Waterloo, was also exhibited and was very much a success.

Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion and Arabella include visits to the Egyptian Hall. Do you remember this scene from Cotillion?

Enlightenment dawned on Miss Charing. She gave an irrepressible gurgle of mirth. “Oh, Freddy, is that what brings you here?”

“Yes, it is, and it ain’t anything to laugh at!” said Freddy. “Good God, you don’t suppose I’d come to a place like this for no reason, do you? I’d as lief visit Westminster Abbey again!” He levelled his glass, and swept a condemnatory glance round the room. “In fact, liefer!” he added. “I don’t say those effigies weren’t pretty devilish, but they weren’t as devilish as this freak you was staring at when I came in. You know what? – you’ll start having nightmares if you don’t take care! Lord, if it ain’t just like Dolph to choose a place like this for his dashed flirtations! Shows you he’s queer in his attic.”

“He did not bring me here to flirt with me!”

“Now, don’t you tell me he wanted to look at curiosities from the South Seas!” said Freddy warningly. “I ain’t a big enough bleater to swallow that one! Just a trifle too loud, Kit!”

“No, of course he did not. Oh, dear, how awkward this is! I wonder what I should do?”

“Well, I can tell you that!” said Freddy. “You can stop making a cake of me. What’s more, if you let Dolph go on hanging round you for ever I’ll tell everyone that our betrothal is a hum!”

Ah, there’s nothing like Georgette Heyer’s voice!

What’s your favorite Heyer? You know, the one you reread when you need a soothing escape?

(I think I’ll go reread Venetia)

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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