Harlequin's NASCAR Turn

Racing and romance novels? Why not? Since last fall's joint licensing agreement between Harlequin Enterprises Limited and NASCAR, auto racing-themed romance novels have flown off the shelves thanks to the sport's growing female fan base.

"NASCAR has one of the largest and most loyal bases of female fans of any sport in the United States, and we are delighted to publish novels that will appeal specifically to them," explains Donna Hayes, publisher-CEO of Harlequin Enterprises.

NASCAR fans are known for their strong brand loyalty. In fact, studies have shown that NASCAR fans are three times more likely to buy NASCAR-licensed products, making this particular deal even more attractive to the romance novel giant.

The first book in the Harlequin series, titled In the Groove, debuted around the 2006 Daytona 500. More titles are expected later this year, including On the Edge in September and A NASCAR Holiday in November. Apart from plot lines focused on racing, the books also carry the NASCAR brand logo.

"The longtime fans of our stories are becoming more interested in the sport because of the books, and NASCAR fans have found a reason to read our romance novels," says Marleah Stout, senior manager of public relations for Harlequin.

The deal will produce 19 more NASCAR/Harlequin titles next year, resulting in more than one million NASCAR-themed romances in print. One book will even feature a cameo appearance by fan favorite Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford for Roush Racing.

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