Love's Sweet Return: The Harlequin Story


188 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88961-086-X





Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.


Romance means business. Very big business indeed. And it is therefore regarded very seriously by those (men) who keep the phenomenally successful Harlequin machine rolling smoothly along; and those (mostly women) who provide formula grist for the mill, and who read, collect, and exchange copies of the final product.

This serious look at what appears at first glance a frivolous occupation provides some interesting insights into the Romance industry: what sells and what doesn’t; the ambivalence of Romance readers and authors with regard to the changing roles of women in society and in the work world; the subtle alteration in attitude toward the overt expression of female sexuality; and the reasons for the recent weakening of Harlequin’s once unchallenged hold upon the Romance readership.

Unpolished in style, and frequently repetitive, this is nevertheless a readable and well-documented study of an important and often over-looked aspect of the popular culture of today.


Jensen, Margaret Ann, “Love's Sweet Return: The Harlequin Story,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,