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Checking In on the Harlequin-Nascar Partnership

When NASCAR decided to join forces with Harlequin to produce original novels with a racecar theme, reaction was – and still is – rather curious, as the Christian Science Monitor’s Harry Brunius found out. “I think this might be seen as a curious melding of audiences,” said Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly. “But certainly the romance-of-the-road theme has long been a part of this genre, and this is where they come together…. And it’s an interesting marriage, too, since a number of different types of women read romance, which could really benefit NASCAR.”

Others, however, see it differently. “Of course NASCAR and Harlequin should be together,” says Stacy Holden, a Massachusetts native and professor of Middle Eastern history at Purdue University in Indiana. “It’s just perfect. I have four of them spread out on my bed right now. And I can give you – if you want to know the top 12 divers in the Nextel Cup point standings – I can give you everything. And Tony Stewart is my driver – he has a New York attitude.”

And so we get to the books themselves, which started being published in February with Nancy Warren‘s SPEED DATING and Pamela Britton‘s IN THE GROOVE. For both of them, the NASCAR logo has made an enormous difference in their sales. “Oh my goodness! It’s been a very successful relationship,” Britton says. “It just worked. There were skeptics at the beginning, but … my agent said, ‘You are a rock star!’ when my royalties came in.” Warren explains that whenever she goes to a book event, her fans ask more about her NASCAR books than the others. In other words: expect more of these books. Lots more.

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