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  • Writer's pictureSharita Lira

Harlequin to Close Five Lines Including Kimani

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Harlequin to Close Five Lines Including Kimani

As a black female author writing romance, opportunities to write love stories showing other women of color is already an uphill battle. Unfortunately, publishing still lags behind when it comes to showcasing main characters who are also people of color. And black females, well, there just aren’t enough of those romances out there in the mainstream market. Often times, the black females in romance are the sidekick of the Caucasian female or a supporting character not involved with the main story. And let’s face it, the way some authors have portrayed women of color in mainstream romance has been downright dreadful. However, that’s a topic for another day.

Back to the topic at hand. About three weeks ago, Harlequin made the announcement it would be closing five lines. Those include: Nocturne, Love Inspired Historical, Superromance, Harlequin Western, and Kimani.


*screeching brakes*

According to an article from Book Riot, Harlequin sites the reason for closure as publishing’s ever changing market. In a letter from Courtney Milan’s Twitter HQ says they are “shifting resources from a few series that have had declining support and focusing efforts on the remaining series that are more popular with consumers and booksellers.”

Understood. Companies do what they have to do to make money and keep consumers happy. However, Kimani is a big blow because it is the only line featuring black women as prominent characters in their books. The majority of authors for Kimani are black women.

So what does this mean? Kimani authors will have their books published until June 2018 then what happens? The details are still being worked out I suppose, but in the mean time, does that mean HQ will become more integrated? In the letter to an author, it states they’d like to keep these authors in HQ and hope they sub to the other lines. Is that true? Will HQ finally break the color barriers between the lines and allow women of color in their Desire, Presents, Life Inspired, etc?

I wonder, but in all reality I doubt this seriously. Why? Because in 2017, we as people of color are still looking for positive representation in any kind of media. Whether it be TV, books, movies, art, etc., we’ve been screaming, #weneedmorediverseromance and #ownvoices from the rooftops for years and losing Kimani is a huge step back. There are many avenues, self-publishing being one where the new trend in interracial romance seems to be billionaires and secret babies.


Not touching that one, to each her own, but again, there doesn’t seem to be many publishers out there looking for more romance with people of color. There are few, but it isn’t at the top of their list. And HQ saying goodbye to Kimani pretty much gives the finger to any author who had hopes of getting their name out there with Harlequin.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong. I hope HQ will begin putting women of color on their Presents and Desire lines. Men of color certainly are on the covers as main characters, because it seems to be a romantic fantasy of its mostly white female fan base.

Perhaps I’m off base, but my evil day job involves stocking Harlequin on the shelves. And in the stores I stock Kimani to, they seem to sell quite well. However, I’m only looking at a small scope so maybe they have an issue with other retailers. Regardless, it isn’t good news for black female authors like me who are trying to push those hash tags.

Let’s face it, we need more diversity in publishing. Our world is diverse so our books should be also.

Thanks for listening!

Authors and readers, what are your thoughts?

If there are any HQ authors, especially Kimani authors, please chime in!

* * * *

I’ll get back to Listen Up and maybe a promo next week!

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