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 As a Harlequin Historical author, I was particularly upset about this venture’s name (Harlequin Horizons–now withdrawn by Harlequin) and its double H logo, because it was distressingly similar to Harlequin Historicals logo.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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Maggie Robinson w/a Margaret Rowe

Diane, I’m quite convinced that the Harlequin business will unwrinkle itself eventually.In the words of the politicians, “It’s too big to fail.” And way too smart not to figure something out that will work both for RWA, their business model and you writers.

Thanks so much for the Heyer snippet—she’s my favorite author. No one can do absurd like she can. For me to pick a favorite Heyer book is like picking which of my four kids is the best. But I’ve very partial to These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub.

Oddly enough, when I need comfort, I try to write myself rather than read, because at least I’ll have something to show for my wallow. 🙂

12 years ago

I love ‘The Tollgate’, with a side order of ‘Bath tangle’.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Maggie, thanks for the encouraging words. I may be the only Heyer-lover in the world who does not like These Old Shades, but all the rest of them I love.

Alison, The Toll Gate was one of the later Heyers that I read and another one that put a smile on my face.

Megan Frampton
12 years ago

Diane, I firmly believe the Harlequin situation will be resolved within a few months.

And I love the snippet you quoted: “liefer!” Love it!

I love Faro’s Daughter, the Nonesuch and Devil’s Cub. I’ve also read a lot of her mysteries, which I always liked.

12 years ago

As for Heyer, the only book I’ve read is These Old Shades. I am currently reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice aloud with my nieces.

Thanks for addressing the elephant in the living room. I’ve wondered what your perspective, as a writer, would be. I’ll be watching how it all plays out.

I read Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady this weekend, and it was a page turner! I had to know how it all worked out because it all seemed so hopeless. I was surprised and pleased. Now, do please hurry with the other two stories. *w*

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

Interesting, Diane. The RWA-HQN high noon stand off reminds me more of Terry Pratchett than Heyer.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Judy, thank you for the nice words about Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady. You are the first reader I know of! I’m thrilled you found it a page turner.

Janet, I was trying to be as clever as you, but it is impossible. You still hold the prize for connecting seemingly unrelated topics!

Cara King
12 years ago

My favorite Heyer re-read is probably Cotillion. No, make that Black Sheep. I mean Venetia. Though it could be Convenient Marriage. No, Frederica!

I am extra proud of RWA nowadays…

Keira Soleore
12 years ago

A quick note: Diane Gaston’s book is also available at Harlequin tends to sell their Historicals a month earlier than release date on their website.

I’m three-fourths of the way through and all I can say is: WOW! What a fabulously gutsy beginning. And you truly need a website logline for your type of stories: Ordinary folks of the Regency whose lives are vastly affected by the sense of entitlement that noblemen feel.

Maggie, those are my top Heyers, too, though Venetia comes a close second. Within the past month, I re-read Devil’s Cub; I enjoyed it just as much as I have during previous reads.

12 years ago

Keira is right. My order from eharlequin arrived earlier last week, but I didn’t want to worry about work interrupting my reading, so I saved Diane’s book for this weekend, and very glad I did, too. Though I usually enjoy watching NASCAR and football, they took a far backseat to GOFL. I couldn’t put it down.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Cara! so good to have you visiting. I miss you!

Keira, thanks for the nice words about my book. I’m glad you liked the beginning because all three books are based on it.

You can get Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady from Amazon,,, too. Not the ebook yet. No Kindle yet! Not til Dec 1.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Awww, Judy. BIG hugs to you.

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

I too am extremely proud of RWA and their tough stance on an extremely important issue. I certainly hope the situation works out, but I believe in the stance our organization has taken.

That being said, guess what arrived in the mail today from eharlequin? SQUEEEE !! Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady is sitting on my desk as inspiration for me to finish up my Golden Heart entry and get it in the mail. I can’t read it until I do. And now that I’ve read everyone’s rave reviews I am gnashing my teeth!

I love everything Georgette Heyer every wrote, but I think The Quiet Gentleman, which was my first Heyer ever, is still my favorite. Followed closely by Venetia, The Grand Sophie, and Bath Tangle. Devil’s Cub is another I turn to when I just want a good read.

Jane George
12 years ago

Who’s more likely to have Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, Borders or Target? Sounds like an excellent curl-up-on-the-couch read!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Gee, you all are so nice to be excited about my book.

Jane George, Borders is supposed to stock all the Harlequin lines so I think that is the best bet. Target is hit or miss. Mine doesn’t carry any series romance and when it used to, it never carried Historical.

Jane George
12 years ago

Very cool, as I have a Borders Rewards coupon!