Harlequin has introduced its newest line: Harlequin Teen.
Inspired by the success of Twilight, the publisher says,"these books specifically focus on teen protagonists, which is not something Harlequin has done a whole lot of." Well, no. While it makes sense that two of the most resilient portions of the publishing industry - romance and YA - should join forces into a supergenre, traditional romance tends to depend on an idea of happily-ever-after, whereas teen romances, typically, don't outlast Thanksgiving break.
Of course, in a case like Twilight's, the characters are special - hell, the hero's technically an old man in a 17-year-old body -which makes it easier to buy their love beating the odds. And Harlequin Teen is clearly not too worried about being derivative: of the 20 titles planned for 2010, apparently a sizable portion are Sci-Fi and "paranormal" romance. It's the "contemporaries" we're curious about.
An industry pro observes that "The teen-romance readers of today are the adult-romance readers of tomorrow. Courting them when they are younger is probably a good thing." But this seems to ignore two things. One: teen girls read bodice-rippers and, two: a lot of Twilight's readership is adult. I'd guess Harlequin is well aware of this too: and as long as grown-ups prefer reading about nubile adolescent foreplay - and won't admit it - this seems like a potential win.