Barbara Brouse


Saturday, April 9, 2005


Barbara Brouse's children often gathered after school in her home office, where she would read to them at a desk cluttered with a typewriter and an ashtray. But these were no children's stories. These were passages about the heaving chests of a hero and a heroine, and how the man took the woman in his arms and kissed her deeply.

"How she came up with it? I don't know," daughter Gillian, now 41, says of her mother, a prolific romance novelist. "It wasn't so bad or graphic that you wouldn't read it to your teenage daughter with her father in the room."

Ms. Brouse wrote more than a dozen books under the pen names of Abra Taylor and Araby Scott and was the first person to write a so-called Harlequin Super Romance -- a 400-page novel that was steamier and longer than any before it.

She let her children read every book before it was published, says Gillian's twin sister, Sue, and she fed off their energy and support.

On Feb. 23, Ms. Brouse died of a heart attack. She was 73.

Born to missionary parents on New Year's Day in Indore, India, in 1932, Ms. Brouse came to Toronto when she was 8, attending Brown Public School, Bishop Strachan School and then the University of Toronto. After graduation, she worked as an advertising copy writer, which is how she met Lionel Brouse, with whom she settled in Rosedale after marrying in 1955.

They started their own ad agency, but when the business faltered, she began writing romance novels in the late 1970s, seeing it as a chance to be with her children and fulfill her dream of being a published writer, her son Terance says.

At one time in her career, reporters asked Ms. Brouse about the "formula" of writing romance. Her reply: "The hero and the heroine be together and in love at the end of the book."

But the same formula didn't play out for her in real life. Her marriage to Mr. Brouse ended in 1985. Shortly after, she stopped writing romance novels, Gillian says.  ~~~