When Love is in the Air, Can there be Romance in the Stacks?
In honour of Valentine’s Day and lovers everywhere, there will be a Literary Treasures presentation on Thursday, Feburary 14th 2 - 3 pm in the Beeton Hall at the Toronto Reference Library. The focus will be a celebration of Harlequin’s 70 years as a Canadian success story. The very name Harlequin has become synonymous with the romance genre and the Harlequin website has an extensive list of their published romance genres.
Unfortunately, “Librarian romance” is not among the established romance subcategories. Does that mean librarians are not romantic? No way!
Consider for example Harlequin no. 600, Hospital Librarian by Margaret Malcolm. This book was first published by the British firm of Mills & Boon in 1960 and then republished by Harlequin in 1961 at a time when medical romances were especially popular. In this book it is hospital librarian Jan Marlowe who must choose between her interest in an attractive patient and a new ophthalmic surgeon.
Harlequin is a Canadian company headquartered in Toronto, so it only seems fitting that the Harlequin Super Romance Firebrand celebrates a Toronto librarian. This 1986 publication is by Toronto author Rosemary Aubert, who is famous for her Ellis Portal mysteries. Librarian Jenn McDonald from the Municipal Affairs Library at Toronto City Hall falls for Toronto’s mayor. The mayor is an activist politician who participates in political protests. According to Brian Busby’s Dusty Bookcase (2017), the mayor character is based upon John Sewell (Mayor of Toronto 1978-1980).
A common theme in librarian romance is a misspent past that catches up with a now prim and proper professional. One example of this plot is Harlequin’s Super Romance What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss. In this 2010 publication New Zealand Librarian Rachel is confronted not only with her past lover, but with the son whom she gave up for adoption. Another example is Love Overdue from the Harlequin Mira series. In this 2013 book a small town Kansas library turns out to be no place for Librarian DJ to escape from her past.