Today we are so excited to celebrate with you — it’s the one-year anniversary of RT’s VIP Salon, where we bring you all the awesome magazine content you’re used to, only on the web! To kick off the party, RT’s president Carol Stacy is reminiscing about how it all began, and at the end of the post, we’re giving away 10 RT VIP Salon memberships. Be sure to enter if you want to check out our 200-plus reviews per month, reader favorite columns like Publisher’s Previews, epic giveaways and more. But first, take it away, Carol.
Beginning in the early 80s and through today, RT is where fans went for book and author information regarding everything and anything romance. It all started in the ’70s, when books began hitting the shelves that swept readers away to long-ago and faraway places with a level of sensuality never before seen in mainstream popular fiction. It was the birth of our beloved romance genre!
From Left: Kathryn Kramer, Virginia Henley, Kathryn Hochett
Avon was the first to publish these books, with Kathleen E. Woodiwiss leading the charge after her first book, The Flame and the Flower, was discovered in a slush pile by then-literary agent Nancy Coffey. Avon began acquiring similar titles from historical greats like Rosemary Rogers, Bertrice Small, Laurie McBain, Shirlee Busbee, Jennifer Wilde, Virginia Henley and Johanna Lindsey, to name a few. They were affectionately dubbed The Avon Ladies.
At the time, avid reader Kathryn Falk discovered and devoured these books. She wanted to know more about the authors but couldn’t find any information about them — even from the publisher. With her inquisitive and entrepreneurial spirit, she devised a plan to reach the authors — she would write a book about them and call it Love’s Leading Ladies. Under the banner of research she was able to speak to Avon’s staff and seek out the authors she admired.
San Diego 1993
Publisher Convention Executive Carol Stacy poses with cover model Steve Sandalis
Reviewer Jill Braeger poses with the infamous Fabio
As she immersed herself, researching these fascinating authors and their stories, she realized that there were many readers out there who loved the books as much as she did. To reach these book lovers, she gave up her dollhouse furniture store on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan (called Mini Mundus) to embark upon a new passion — creating a magazine for lovers of romance novels. In June of 1981, the first issue of Romantic Times hit bookstores and was an immediate success.
As the romance genre developed, it expanded into every sub-genre imaginable and fans had a plethora of choices to satisfy their reading habits. Contemporary romance was the first to emerge, followed by time travel, romantic suspense, paranormal and even science-fiction romance. The ’80s and ’90s were bursting with creativity and the sky was the limit for authors stretching their imaginations and the boundaries of the romance genre — and we reviewed and covered them all! When Tami Hoag, Elizabeth Lowell, Iris Johansen and many other beloved authors branched out to write in non-romance genres, devoted fans followed them — us included. And since we were no longer covering only romance, we adapted our logo to encompass all of genre fiction. Since we were already known as RT, we kept the brand and added BOOK REVIEWS to the name. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fort Worth 1995
Nora Roberts, Editor Jennifer Enderlin, B.J. Daniels Sharon Sala pose with awards
Author Heather Graham gives her husband Dennis a hug
Fast forward 36 years, and this month we are proud to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our web-based version of RT Book Reviews magazine, the RT VIP Salon! I hope you’ve been enjoying the Salon as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it!
It’s giveaway time! Ten lucky winners will get a year-long membership to the RT VIP Salon to see all the book awesomeness available! The contest is open to all and will run for one week. Good luck!
If you’d like to subscribe to the RT VIP Salon, we’ve got ya covered.