Readers And The Books We're Reading: We Investigate The Harlequin Romance Report

The third annual Harlequin Romance Report has just hit the airwaves. The annual study surveys 1,500 female romance readers who are single and between the ages of 18-40. This year respondents were asked to answer that age old question, "What do women want?" and also respond to the equally interesting, "What do women think they're really getting?" Today, we’re taking a look at what the report has uncovered about the modern woman and how these findings compare to what we're seeing in the world of books!

When it comes to reader trends, this year’s report found that we aren't the only sunny optimists on the block. 89% of women surveyed believe that their best days are ahead! So it’s no surprise that we’ve been enjoying the reemergence of the older heroine. Second chance at love stories are leaving readers smiling, like debut author Fay Alter’s novella, “Second Chance Chanukah”, Pleasure Me which is Monica Burns’ March 2011 release and Murder at Granite Falls by Roxanne Rustand, a 2011 Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee in the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense category.

And when it comes to mates, Harlequin found that women still prefer a man with a good sense of humor. (This feature that tops the list for 82% of us.) Who doesn’t love a man that will infuse your life with love and laughter? A partner who can turn our frowns upside down is as precious as gold.

But we can’t help but question who is getting the wrong message when it comes to women’s second favorite feature in a man. Survey respondents claimed that their second favorite trait in a man was a "killer smile" (which clocks in at 57%). However, a quick glance at the covers of some recent releases seems to show that the books selling best right now don’t exactly feature the hero’s lips …


As romance novels take a turn towards the steamy, heroines aren’t the only ones heating things up — 91% of women think that the rules of dating have become less rigid. (And while 59% of women still prefer to be asked out, when it comes to pre-first date etiquette, 65% of women will text a man before their first date, and 63% will talk to him on the phone.) Meanwhile, readers are enjoying an upswing in less-than-typical heroines. From Courtney Milan’s courtesan heroine of Unclaimed who falls for a man believes in the importance of chastity, to the Australian heroine of Fiona Lowe’s Boomerang Bride who shows up in Wisconsin to marry her Internet boyfriend, only to discover love with another man, many recent releases have been all about defying genre conventions.

First date “rules” aren’t the only thing going up in flames, according to the report, readers are turning up the sizzle factor in their real lives. Of those interviewed for the Harlequin romance report, 43% of women had sent “sexts” and 63% have sent a nude photo to a partner “for fun or to be adventurous.” If you long to be a Daring Darla, but simply aren’t sure how, try seeking a bit of written inspiration, RT’s audience sure lets us know that they are looking for some steamy read, Maya Banks and Jaci Burton are two authors who never disappoint!

Want to see exactly what Harlequin learned? Be sure to check out the entire report here!