With some products, it’s hard to decide if the concept was absolutely brilliant or totally ill-conceived. Harlequin’s NASCAR romance novel series strikes the voters at the Odd Product Hall of Fame as a little of both. On the one hand, the stereotypical culture surrounding NASCAR conjures up images of pork rinds, camouflage trucker hats and tobacco spittle — not exactly the stuff of fairy tale romances and ladies being swept off their feet. On the other hand, ESPN reports that 40 percent of NASCAR fans are women, so aligning the racing entity with the best-known publisher of romantic fiction seems like a logical and lucrative brand alliance.
Good idea or not, titles like Checkered Past, Hearts Under Caution and Black Flag, White Lies earned this series a few committee votes and the cover artwork (click here to see the full series on display) helped as well. But ultimately, the thought of how much a partnership between Flyover Country icons like NASCAR and Harlequin must irk cultural elites and snobs all the way from the Upper East Side to Marin County is what catapulted these books into the Odd Product Hall of Fame. Congratulations, y’all!