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Love actually

Harlequin aims to retain its iconic status in mass-market romance by adding realistic diversity to its fantastical escapism

CHAMPAGNE WAS POPPING at Harlequin’s downtown Toronto headquarters one Thursday morning in January. The Wives, a suspense novel by Tarryn Fisher from Harlequin’s Graydon House imprint, had debuted at number one on the Toronto Star original fiction bestsellers list, inspiring this toast to Team Harlequin, led by Craig Swinwood, CEO of Harlequin and HarperCollins Canada.

“We hope to drink here most mornings,” Swinwood – a former police officer who first joined Harlequin as a sales rep in 1987 – jokes in his 41st-floor corner office, having swapped his champagne flute for a Starbucks cup. Floor-toceiling glass walls frame Lake Ontario in the background, glimpses of airplanes departing Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport visible between the gaps in the skyscrapers. Digital alerts ping from Swinwood’s immaculate desk, punctuating the conversation as he recounts a whirlwind couple of years.

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Spring Kidlit Special New books by Jeremy and Hermione Tankard, Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson, and Lindsay Wong