Where's the Imagination?

While romance has always had its fair share of silly titles or vague and somewhat interchangable titles, when I go back through my older romances and UBS finds, there seems to be a lot more variety in titles than what I see now. I notice this particularly in historicals and series titles, probably the two categories I read the most. A book title might not tell me exactly what I’ll find in In the Midnight Rain, Perchance to Dream or Mistress of Mellyn, but they do spark one’s imagination. They make me wonder where the reference comes from or who is this Mistress of Mellyn anyway?

Lately, though, it seems like the titles lack imagination. There are still a few good ones out there, but I’ve noticed a trend(especially with historical and series books) that leans more toward titles along the lines of Seduced at Midnight, To Sin With a Stranger, Mommy in Training or Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded. Somehow these titles just don’t have the same ring to them.

For starters, something about these kinds of titles makes them all feel interchangable. When I see these books out on a shelf, I often have trouble remembering which Duke, spy, billionaire, etc… I liked and which I can give to the library sale. It all just runs together. In addition, these sorts of titles miss out on the intrigue factor and at worst, make me feel like my intelligence is being insulted by the publisher – and not even subtly. When I see a really cool title on the shelf at a store, I immediately pick it up out of curiosity. Not much that I see nowadays, particularly in the historical or Harlequin/Silhouette lines, has that intrigue factor for me.

And that’s a shame. There are lots of good books and talented authors out there, and crappy titles sell them short. Reading engages the imagination and for me, clunky or silly titles spell lack of that quality. I can’t help wondering how many readers like me have walked right by a treasure of a book simply because they aren’t familiar with the author and a title along the lines The Desert Prince’s Proposal isn’t exactly subtle enough to capture their curiosity.

-Lynn Spencer

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