As folks following me on Twitter know, I’ve been working through Harlequin Medical romances published from Jan 2011-May 2014 for a research project. I haven’t read them all, by any means, but I’ve read many, and for all the rest I’ve read blurbs, samples, and reader reviews. A few things really surprised me. I thought I’d see if I could surprise a few of you.
(Answers below the cut)
1. Which plot NOT is a real one?
a) Hero and heroine both utilized IVF to conceive, but the sperm samples were mixed up, and they now have each other’s kids. They meet to fix the problem and fall in love. HEA.
b) The heroine and hero had a relationship in medical school, but it ended when she handcuffed him to a bed and stole his fellowship. They meet up again years later and fall in love. HEA.
c) The heroine agreed to serve as gestational surrogate for her friend, but after getting “weird vibes” from the bio-dad, she ran off with the baby. She meets a nice doc. They fall in love. HEA.
d) The heroine is a gestational surrogate. When the bio-mom dies and the bio-dad refuses custody, the heroine tracks down the bio-dad. They fall in love. HEA.
2. As of right now, how many Medicals are published each month?
3.The doctor (hero)/nurse (heroine) pairing was once so common in medical romance that they were called “Doctor Nurse” romances. Today, what percentage of heroines in Harlequin Medical romance are nurses?
4. Of the recent Harlequin Medical romances that feature a nurse protagonist, how many feature a nurse hero?
5. Which one is NOT a setting for a recent Harlequin Medical?
a) Cruise ship
b) Hero’s desert kingdom
c) Space station
e) Orient Express
6. What percentage of protagonists start the story as a single parent?
7. How many female protagonists are POC?
8. Which ridiculous reason was NOT used to end or prevent a relationship?
a) The heroine ran off to get her child an experimental treatment for a fatal disease against the objections of the hero, her husband.
b) The hero has cancer, and leaves the pregnant heroine to spare her.
c) In Liberia, the heroine insists on setting up a plastic surgery clinic which the hero thinks is frivolous.
d) The hero dumps the heroine because he wants to dedicate his life to eradicating a measles outbreak while training as an assassin to eradicate Jenny McCarthy.
9. A Harlequin Medical opens with:
a) the heroine’s point of view most of the time
b) the hero’s point of view most of the time
c) a roughly even split between hero and heroine’s point of view
10. Which health issue is NOT faced by a protagonist in recent Harlequin medicals?
a) postpartum depression
b) elective preventative mastectomy
d) macular degeneration
e) multiple sclerosis
11. Only one of the seven continents is unrepresented as a setting for a recent Harlequin medical. Which is it?
c) North America
d) South America
12. What is the most common profession for heroines who are NOT nurses?
13. What surprised this post author the MOST about Amazon.com reviews of Harlequin Medical romances?
a) The high frequency of the sentence “I skipped the sex scenes.”
b) How uncannily the wording tracked the jacket copy.
c) How well the reviewers seemed to know the author and her work.
d) How bitterly angry the reviewers were about the similarity of the names “Caroline Anderson” and “Catherine Anderson” and their own tendency to buy the wrong author.
14. How likely is it for the heroine to be sexually inexperienced?
a) Extremely unlikely
b) Somewhat unlikely
d) Very likely
15. By the end of the book, or at least by the next book in a continuing series, how many of the couples are parents?
c) About half
ANSWERS (Remember, these only apply to the time period 1/11-5/14):
1. Trick question. They are all real.
2. 6, up from 4 not too long ago.
3. C, but actually it is only 32%
6. C. This number includes secret babies (of which there are many), foster kids, step-kids, and random minor relatives whom the h/h has taken under his or her wing. I didn’t count, but I would guess at least half, and maybe slightly more than half, of the single parents are dads.
7. A (An Asian woman of an origin I could not determine from the sample, but probably Indian, and a Brazilian woman)
8. D, although that would make an awesome plot, especially if Laura Kinsale writes him as a ninja.
9. C. I didn’t actually count, but this is my sense. If anything, they tend to start with the hero’s point of view, and then switch mid-chapter to the heroine’s. I was really surprised by that for some reason.
11. E. I hereby challenge someone to write a romance featuring climate change scientists on a research mission. Bonus points for outdoor sex.
12. A. there are more doctor protagonists than anything else. Nurses are second, midwives a distant third. A random assortment of professions including dietician, counselor, EMT, veterinarian, physical therapist, public relations expert, and helicopter pilot comprise the rest.
13. All of these showed up more than I expected, but the number of times objections to sex scenes or compliments of “tasteful” or “brief” sex scenes occurred really surprised me. I know Medicals are published in large print in some areas, which makes me think “older reader,” but they are only published in digital in the US, which makes me think “younger reader” so who knows.
14. A. I didn’t look for this specifically, but I can only recall two virgins in the 200+ books I reviewed, although there may have been a few more.
15. A. Again, I didn’t “code” for this, so there could be an exception I missed. Also, unless I missed it, all of the infertile couples for whom infertility was a relationship issue (a half dozen or so) had biological children by the end of the book.