To: Harlequin Mills & Boon Ltd.
cc: Author Jessica Notaprude
From: The Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene (SOILS)
RWA Awards Integrity Preservation Task Force
Subject: Violation of the RITA Awards
Potential Change in Publisher Status
Sadly, it has come to our attention that your corporation, which claims to be "the largest publisher of romantic fiction in the world", no longer publishes romance novels as defined and deemed appropriate by the Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene.
Case in point: the novel As Steamy As It Can Be by Jessica Notaprude was found to contain the following:
1. Grossly Inappropriate Title (why not cut to the chase and call it As FILTHY As It Gets)
2. Lewd and lacivious cover art (the hero as depicted is definitely LOOKING at the heroine's partially exposed bosum)
3. Extremely offensive content (descriptions of premarital relations, extensive use of words for actual naked body parts, and the complete absence of proper, fade-to-black love scenes)
Normally SOILS would never sully our pristine ranks with such trash as Ms. Notaprude has written. Unhappily, we learned that her book had been entered into the RITA awards contest. We don't know why; it is so obviously not a romance, but we managed to get some of our members to volunteer as judges. Our long-suffering sisters then read ten or twenty words of it before -- in hysterics -- they called upon certain romance writers who have not yet fully embraced our cerebral chastity charter to ask them for a synopsis of the actual dirt involved.
After getting the disgusting scoop on Ms. Notaprude's many, many violations of true romance, we graded this book as the lowest-scoring entry in the contest. Actually, it was in the negative numbers. Ms. Notaprude has filed a useless protest with RWA over our scores, but for her benefit, and so that you do not lose your coveted publisher status with our beloved and powerful organization, we are pleased to remind you as to what constitutes a real romance:
1. A nice boy (the hero) and a virginal girl (the heroine) meet, chastely, in an appropriate setting: a historical time period predating the American Civil War, or one to which they have time-traveled, or a cowboy ranch in Texas. They must be fully-clothed and must stay dressed for the remainder of the story. They may change clothing, bathe and use the bathroom off-stage, or after the novel is over.
2. Sparks -- not ripped-off clothing -- fly between the lovers. Sparks may only consist of heated gazes, tension-filled silences, and fiery tosses of the heroine's head. Please note, we do not mean lovers in the Biblical sense of the term, but in the romantic, gazing-at-each-other-from-afar manner of real romantic lovers. Have the author imagine a wide, wildflower-speckled meadow between the hero and the heroine, and tell her to keep it there for the rest of the book.
3. The hero and the heroine fall in love. Again, chastely. They should talk about it a great deal, too. Preferably in church.
4. There is a black moment. Black as in emotionally speaking, not black as in the involvement of any African-American characters (please reference our bylaws section on how to portray any "colored" characters in romance novels) or black as in the absence of light in any room where certain premarital monkey business may happen. Also, no one should be naked or touching before, during or after this time. Remember, vows have not yet been exchanged.
5. The hero and the heroine bravely navigate through the (emotional) black moment, resolve their conflict, and reaffirm the power of love. They may share one soulful kiss at this point in the book, as long as there are no tongues or lower extremities touching.
6. The hero marries the heroine (in church), and takes her on an expensive and wildly romantic honeymoon on a completely deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific where no one will know that they're Doing It. The book should end before the wedding night begins, but a very brief fade-to-black scene that shows the hero only manfully but gently carrying the heroine into the beautiful chamber of consecrated marital bliss is acceptable here. Just assure that your author goes no further with it than the door to said chamber.
As a publisher of alleged romantic fiction, it is your responsibility to provide quality romances for today's readers. The Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene are happy to assist you in that goal.
You will naturally have to first weed out the authors whom we have already deemed as unworthy smut mongers and prevented from being awarded any RWA honors. Repeat offenders, such as that shameless hussy Alison Kent, must be fired immediately.
As for specific books, your entire BLAZE line has to go. We're very sorry that you will lose the entire imprint, but good riddance to bad rubbish. Just throw all the books in the corporate incinerator now; you'll feel so much better. Once you have removed this filth from the shelves, please discontinue printing any other novels until we have finished reviewing your other lines and can advise you on what else to burn.
As for Ms. Notaprude, we are petitioning to have her membership in RWA revoked. She does not write romances, therefore, she should not be a member of our beloved organization. We will pray for her. Maybe.
Good luck, and crank up that incinerator,
The Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene