Old Harlequin Romances

The Book Rack, a used book store in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, has a huge collection of historical romances.  And a fair number of women’s fiction (Binchy and the like) and glam-fiction (Krantz, Steel, etc.) that some might count as romance or romantic fiction.  But my favorite part of the store was at the very back, a section of “non-tradeable” books that was mostly older, more worn paperbacks.  There I found a bunch of older Harlequin Romances that were originally published in the 1960s.

Hospital in the Tropics by Gladys Fullbrook

Published by Mills & Boon in 1965, by Harlequin in North America in 1971

Sister Maggie Brown from England wanted to see as much of Australia as she possibly could, so she jumped at the chance of a few months at a tiny hospital on the tropical Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef.  She got plenty of experience — but not all of it as happy as she hoped.

City Nurse by Jane Arbor

Originally published as “Nurse Greve” in 1958, reprinted in 1976 as part of Harlequin’s Collection.

District nursing gave Tessa a new start — but that didn’t take away her disappointment over losing Doctor Girling at her old hospital.  Then Dr. Neil Callender, with his constant help in crises, made her realize that the best of life was still to come!

The Young Doctor by Sheila Douglas

Originally published by Mills & Boon and Harlequin in 1973, reprinted in 1977

Mary Hunter was delighted when she landed a job as house surgeon at a country hospital.  It made a wonderful change from London and put her within easy reach of Martin, her boyfriend.

However, she soon found the experience of working with Richard Cochrane.  Martin’s more serious older brother, very trying.  For though Richard was a most overbearing person, Mary realized he was the better man.

But could she ever compete for his attention with the beautiful Christine?

For Ever & Ever by Mary Burchellite

Originally published by Mills & Boon in 1956, republished by Harlequin subsequently and reprinted again in 1974

When Leonie Creighton was chosen as Claire Elstone’s companion on a voyage to Australia, she knew that the whole purpose of the journey was to separate Claire from a young man of whom her father disapproved.  So it was a considerable shock to her to find, the first night out, that this very young man was aboard too in the capacity of Assistant Surgeon — and that he didn’t seem to be quite the villain that Sir James had pictured.

Leonie was extremely worried as to what to do; and she had troubles of her own as well, connected with the Senior Surgeon, who had, it seemed, thought her a silly little flirt in her hospital days and did not seem prepared to revise his opinion now.

But when an emergency arose on board, it was to Leonie that he turned for extra help in the ship’s hospital, and so began for her a happiness that was not to end with the voyage but to last “for ever and ever”.

Plus one “older” Harlequin:

The Wrong Man by Katrina Britt

Originally published by Mills & Boon in 1980, republished by Harlequin in 1981

Rachelle should never have married Pete Standring.  She’d known he was a Canadian oil prospector, but she hadn’t realized it was his whole life.

Moreover, she hated oil-field living.  So she left him to resume the budding career she’d had in London.

When she finally discovered she couldn’t live without the man she loved — it was too late.  If she’d lost him to Nancy Bigland it was her own fault!


I’m a little bemused by the fact that all but one involve a doctor romance of some sort — and only one of those has a woman as the doctor.  But standard romance tropes appear to have been around since early(ish) Harlequin days — better country than city, putting career and personal goals/needs above love and your man’s needs is bad, and older men who scowl disapprovingly at pretty young women are really in love with them but are unable to articulate emotions or man up and ask for a date.

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