Library Journal‘s longtime romance columnist Kristin Ramsdell honors the passing of a genre pioneer.
Janet Dailey’s death on December 14 really got to me. More than I expected, in fact. It wasn’t that I knew her personally (I did not), or even that she was my favorite author (she was not). My response was broader than that—not quite the passing of a legend but similar. For as long as I can remember, her name has been synonymous with popular romance. Even though her star lost much of its luster in the late 1990s when she admitted to plagiarizing some of Nora Roberts’s work, her deep connection to the genre remained. However Dailey is viewed now, she was a groundbreaker. As the first American author to write romances for Harlequin (No Quarter Asked, Mills & Boon, 1974; Harlequin, 1976), Dailey opened the door for the many American writers who followed. Her idea of traveling to and writing a book set in all 50 states was unique, as well, and the first four books of her “Calder” series, written in the early 1980s, remain classics to this day. As Kathleen Woodiwiss did with The Flame and the Flower (1972), Dailey broke new ground in her own way. She made a difference to romance, and the genre today would not be the same without her.