Time to take out the trash

It's been a few months since my last lampooning of the all-too-easily-skewered Harlequin line. Tonight at our Local Grocery Chain Maughta and I came across a few books which once again exemplify Harlequin's penchant for expository titles and swarthy Mediterranean Mammons.

Let's take a look at the latest in a long line of barrel-bottom bodice-busting bookery, shall we?

All I have to say about this bit of schlock is that the title sounds like it was produced by a Romance Novel Random Title Generator™ that's fed words like "billionaire," "bachelor," "bride," and so forth. I also have to admit that at first I thought the giant gemstone at the cover's center was a glinting pair of stainless steel handcuffs.

Oh, and a NOTE to would-be-poets: "billionaire heir" doesn't "rhyme," it doesn't "scan," it doesn't witness any clever poetic device. It just sounds uninspired and stupid.

Wait, did I just say that last title sounded stupid? I spoke too soon. We're back at the corner of 1st and Main in Expository Title Town. Nice brocading on that fainting couch. She's going to have a helluva backache in the morning.

And here come the Greeks! The cover designers didn't want to leave anything to chance: "In the Greek tycoon's bed," "The Giannakis bride," "At the mercy of a ruthless Mediterranean billionaire..." He's Ukrainian, isn't he?

Exactly how many Greek billionaires are there? Of course, the Italians are not to be outdone:

For my money, this last one's the topper. The title defies every naming convention for throw-away fiction ever devised. It doesn't sing, it doesn't zing, there's not even the merest attempt at drama. It reads more like a newspaper headline ("Mayor: Town in Crisis") or the title of an academic text ("Nuts: a comprehensive history of almonds in the United Kingdom") than the title a romance novel. However, 3 of the title's 6 words ("virgin," "Italian," and "wedded") are stock fodder for the RNRTG™, so I guess I could cut it some slack.

Until next time, keep sending us your covers, and your favorite pulp titles!


Daniele A. Gewurz said...

As if everything else were not enough, "Bought for Revenge..." is allegedly penned by somebody who sounds like a wannabee Jane Austen character...

Bybee said...

Those aren't titles...they're refugees from bad haiku.

Anonymous said...

Man, I think I'd rather be "bought for revenge" than "wedded for the Italian's convenience." The latter sounds so passionless. "Oh, can you do on the 5th? That really works best for my schedule."

Uncle Vinny said...

Call me crazy, but I actually want to track down and read "Virgin: Wedded at the Italian's Convenience", now... Sounds like a laugh riot!

Snow said...

The Giannakis Bride cover scene is not at all romantic. Unless you're into moms seducing their sons, that is.

VembaTsith said...

"Virgin: Wedded at the Italian's Convenience"

what?!?! the marriage was at a public lavatory in Naples?!?!

Rex Parker said...

I'm intrigued by the first book's promise of "Diamonds Down Under." That sounds like a new, kinky (not to mention expensive) twist on your average romance novel plot.


Anonymous said...

I saw a rack of Harlequins at the bookstore the other day, and "Virgin..." was the one that jumped out and poked me in the eye too. The phrasing is so awkward, plus "convenience" is, as Josh says, so ho-hum. Not "desire" or "command" or anything, but "convenience." Extremely laugh-worthy.

Sleepydumpling said...

Dude! You gotta do better than Harlequin/Mills and Boon/Silhouette covers. I mean it would be wrong of them to NOT be dodgy and cheap!

Find something that's meant to be taken seriously to laugh at, that's WAY funnier!

Anonymous said...

The woman on the first cover looks like that puppet Madam. I read the book and I have to say the lead characters were all too stupid to live. And no, there were no kinky sparklies down under.

Snow said...

Ooh, thanks Katiem. I'd buy The Puppet Madam. Quick, someone write it.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks those last 3 covers look like Campbell's Soup labels? o.O

Susanna said...

Is that humongo diamond on the first cover attached to the woman's belly chain?

I'm trying to use Thesaurus Power to come up with a better title for the last book, but finding I have to leave something out or it just gets too wordy.

How about "The Neapolitan Nuptial of the Naif"?

Michael5000 said...

"Boardrooms & a Billionaire Heir" was a prototype role-playing game that the late Gary Gygax was working on before he came up with the ultimately much more successful "Dungeons and Dragons" concept.

the.effing.librarian said...

these titles are for the barely literate, people who can't know that titles should be clever. they might as well title the books, "Between These Covers is Humpin' a Plenty" or "Folks Richer than You are Ready to Screw on Clean Pet-free Beds."

they should make a Mad Libs for romance novels:
"My (place of business) provides this private (mode of transportation). Now that we are alone, let me undo those buttons on your (brand name) (article of clothing). Here, feel how my (body part) (verb)s with you close. I can (verb) the (adjective) of your (body part, just not "hooters," okay?)."

Anonymous said...

So it would become:
"My (medical device company) provides this private (golf cart). Now that we are alone, let me undo those buttons on your (Gucci) (shoes). Here, feel how my (ear) (wiggles)s with you close. I can (caress) the (pink) of your (hair)."

I like it!

Rex Parker said...

I would buy that "Humpin' Aplenty" novel.


Anonymous said...


I am reading the Pandora Prescription by James Sheridan and I was curious if you have ever read it? Also, have you heard about this?



Anonymous said...

Has anyone bothered to mention that these book covers all look like Campbell Soup cans ???

Feral Boy

xenobiologista said...

Ow! "Diamonds down under" sounds painful. For all parties concerned.

A Kitten in a Brandy Glass said...

I just can't get my head around the last one, it's so fabulously longwinded. Perhaps there's a word missing at the end: "Virgin: Wedded At The Italian's Convenience Store"?

Rachel said...

They used to have a stand with mills and boon books on in the post office. It really helped to pass the time when waiting in the long queue - to read the hilarious titles and just trying to imagine what the stories might be about!

Jenny Trout said...

I am fairly certain that there is a room at Harlequin with a huge dart wheel, with words on it like, "Tycoon" and "Bedded" and "Mistress," and they just spin it and throw darts blindly to come up with those titles.

One month, I saw "The Greek Tycoon's Convenient Mistress" on the shelf next to "The Greek Tycoon's Reluctant Bride." The Greek Tycoon was about to get found out.

Anonymous said...

Does this call for more title exposition?!

Of course, one must not ignore the Bard's classics:

Fairies Screw With Some Lovers But It's All OK

A King Gets Killed And The Murderer's Manipulative Wife Goes Crazy (And Justice)

Lovers Get Angry, Guy Pretends He's Dead, Dogberry is Awesome, It's All OK

Blame It On The Jews (In Italy!)


Creepy Asylum is Livened Up By Rowdy Newcomer (Plus Tragedy) by Ken Kesey

Washington Wins by David McCullough

Abigail Provokes Witch Hunts And Also McCarthy Is A Dick by Arthur Miller

Black Guy Loses A Case And Boo Radley Is Awesome by Harper Lee

I Married Almanzo And We Wrote Books by Laura

I Am Gay And Also Funny by David Sedaris

Witches Have Crazy Ideas And Walter Is The Opera Ghost by Terry Pratchett

Flowers For My Dead Mouse Friend Who Died After He Got An Operation That I Also Got And Now I'm An Idiot Again by Daniel Keyes

My Father is A Drunk And I Go Back To America by Frank McCourt

Vanessa said...

Ha! I have just discovered your blog, and have been rolling with laughter. Thank you. And I will be reading you often from now on :)

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, I've just finished translating one of Emma Darcy's novels for Harlequin :) It's called "The Playboy Boss's Chosen Bride" and is rather painful to read, not to mention render into another language. It was reassuring to see other people get a laugh at "Ms. Darcy" (seriously, I wonder who it is that writes these books. Underpaid immigrants? A machine?), or at least the cover of her novel...

Pai said...

'Emma Darcy'? Seriously?!

It makes me sad to see these kinds of crap books representing the entire romance genre to the majority of people. it's just embarassing.

Mary B said...

Is it just me, or does the billionaire on the first cover look like he's sucking on her nose?