Harlequin Desire is one of our oldest and most widely read lines. Readers around the world devour these short, snappy stories–and we love reading them ourselves! So what makes a true Desire? Glad you asked…
Senior editor Stacy Boyd, editor Charles Griemsman and editorial assistant Allison Carroll weigh in on what makes a story Desire-able….
At Desire, we’re looking for passion and provocation in a crisp, concise package. These are 50,000-word books about high net worth heroes and resourceful heroines who give as good as they get. The stories are sexy but not raunchy; the central romance is the primary focus. Big business, royalty and ranching give the plots spice and color, but you don’t want to get bogged down in the details of stock swaps, cattle sales or royal pedigrees. At the end of the day, these books are about intense emotion, strong romantic hooks and what it takes to tame an alpha man’s heart. (Desire Writing Guidelines)
To understand the scope of the line, see our September 2013 releases. Our heroes run the gamut from a real estate tycoon (Brenda Jackson, Stern) to a millionaire ex-Air Force pilot (Merline Lovelace, A Business Engagement) to a rich biker-entrepreneur (Sarah M. Anderson, Bringing Home the Bachelor).
While most Desires are set in the U.S., some have foreign settings, from fictional desert kingdoms (Olivia Gates, Conveniently His Princess) to island getaways. Then there are our writers from New Zealand and Australia, who add Down Under flavor to the line. (We love learning Australian slang from our authors, btw.) But this month, New Zealand author Yvonne Lindsay applies her storytelling ability to a town called Royal, Texas, in her Texas Cattleman’s Club continuity book, Something about the Boss….
The best way to get a sense of what we’re looking for from new writers is to take a peek at these continuity books. This is where some of our most popular authors come together and write a series of connected stories. Texas Cattleman’s Club has been a hit with readers for more than a decade!
And let us not forget babies…Billionaires & Babies, to be precise. The baby hook is a bestseller for Desire. This month, Cat Schield, who’s published six Desires since her series debut in 2011, fulfills the Billionaires & Babies promise with The Nanny Trap, a surrogate story full of surprises.
We love surprises at Desire! In fact, most of our new writers came to our attention because of the surprises they included in their stories. Our favorite submissions are the ones that take classic themes, like secret babies and cowboy heroes, and make them seem brand new.
And Kat Cantrell, who won Harlequin’s 2011 SYTYCW contest and published her first book with Desire in February 2013, started Marriage with Benefits—a marriage of convenience story—with a heroine looking for a divorce! She followed that book with The Things She Says, an opposites attract trope mixed with a Texas road trip adventure
Then there’s our most recent debut author, Dani Wade, whose book, His by Design, came out in August 2013. Her book is a classic boss/secretary romance, but set in Atlanta’s cutthroat world of bridal couture with the dramatic sweep of a soap opera. Fully developed external and internal conflicts, a richly described setting and fully developed secondary characters set this classic plot apart from the rest.
If your story is a new take on classic themes, and includes sensuality, drama and an alpha hero with a heart of gold, send it our way!
Along with checking out the Harlequin Community Forums for Desire Discussions, follow #HarlequinDesire where @Stacy_Boyd, @CharlieGrim or @AllisonPCarroll can often be found talking about what they like–and don’t like!–in their current manuscripts and just keep reading. And writing!
If you have specific questions about writing for Desire, ask them in the comments!