I’ve been glomming Carol Marinelli’s Kolovsky series — it’s pretty strongly linked, unlike most Harlequin series. Interestingly, it was published in the U.K. in more than one line: the second and third books are in the “Harlequin Medical” line, the rest are “Modern.” They all wound up as Harlequin Presents in the U.S. — I don’t think we have any other place to put Medical romances, even though they don’t fit.
I was intrigued by how the author changed styles for the different lines, yet also managed to not make the contrasts too sharp. The Moderns I’ve read (I’m about the start the last one) have the usual HP elements — playboys, obscene wealth — yet also have some grounding elements. (In The Last Kolovsky Playboy, the heroine is a single mother, and the impact her fake relationship with her boss would have on her young daughter is given far more attention than it usually would be. She’s also apparently genuinely fat, not just “curvy.”) The Medicals are much more real world, and Knight on the Children’s Ward gives a significant character arc to the heroine, which I liked a lot.
A running theme in all the books is the lingering effects of being part of the very messed-up Kolovsky family, and this is more powerfully drawn than usual in HPs. It’s especially strong in Knight, where it narratively fits with the medical environment: the pediatrician hero is giving a talk on spotting small signs of emotional abuse in children, and comes to realize why the woman he loves is so withdrawn and passive.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Medical romances, because I usually don’t get into the more realistic Harlequin lines . (Excepting Sarah Mayberry, who almost always manages to keep it interesting.) I’m not sure if that’s because of the connection to the series or if I’d enjoy the line in general.
Anyway, the series has its share of problems — Knight, especially, has some othering of the part Romany hero, and also some weird editing issues. This paragraph…
“I’ll come with you.” Ross went with her.
But the author has some flair to her writing that made me more forgiving of times when it was hard to parse what was going on. (I was also stuck for a minute on “They ate cold roast beef and hot mustard sandwiches…”) It was also interesting that her style seemed to come out more and more as the series went along, as if it became less necessary for her to try to sound like every other HP writer. The third and fourth books impressed me much more than the first and second. On to book five, and may the trend continue!