Authors writing series books is now the norm in romance; but what makes a series great, and what makes readers decide not to follow the series through to its end?
The draw of any series is the characters. Reading a series that involves the same main characters requires character growth. It’s also important to see the addition of new sub-characters who will add to the overall series. If a series features a new hero and heroine in each book, I want to meet them in a prior book. I’m not much for blind dates; I want to get to know them before I invest my time. I want to get excited and anticipate their stories.
One of my favorite series is the J.D. Robb In Death series, which encompasses all the different genre that I love: romance, police drama and science fiction. The main characters in this series are Homicide Detective Lt. Eve Dallas, and her husband, the rich and gorgeous Roarke. The growing cast of subcharacters include her partner Peabody, Peabody’s detective boyfriend, McNab, and Dallas former partner, Capt. Feeney. With over 30 books in the series to date, we have spent a lot of time in the world of Eve Dallas and company. During that time we have seen the growth of Eve Dallas from an efficient police detective, a lone wolf, who was uncomfortable with the affections of her new husband to a loving wife and thoughtful friend. If the thought of 30 books seem too daunting for you, know that each book is its own investigation and they can be enjoyed individually.
But you don’t need to have 30 books to draw my interest; Rebecca Zanetti began her Dark Protectors series back in March 2011 with Fated. She not only presents an interesting story premise by adding science, DNA and biological warfare to the world of vampires, she writes it as a continuing saga. She thoroughly piqued my interest in all her characters, and I have been rewarded with the next book Claimed, whose main character, Emma, caught my attention in the few pages of her we saw in Fated.
To have a successful series, an author has to provide enough of an introduction of the future characters so we are desperate to read their next story. In Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, Cole has been hinting at the very complex and volatile love story of Thronos and Melanthie since Kiss of a Demon King was released in January 2009. Her next book, due out in January 2012 is about Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, who has been in the background plotting and scheming through most of her books. Although Lothaire’s story has been highly anticipated, I am telling you right now, if she doesn’t get down to it and write Thronos and Melanthie’s story next, I am going to take a page out of Stephen King’s Misery and lock her in a room until she writes that story. She’s making me crazed. A novel, a short-story, a pamphlet, I don’t care. I want that story!
Kerrelyn Sparks infuses humor into her Love at Stake series. The witty and playful banter between the main characters make each story delightful and makes me laugh, no matter how many times I read it. This series also deviates from the usual “fated” mate which is so popular with paranormal romances. The LAS characters spend their story falling in love which makes these books just as much of a love story as a vampire story. She also introduced us to a wonderful cast of characters. Fans have been eagerly anticipating Gregori’s story since we first met him in How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire. His story was just released in September, and was charming and funny and everything we have come to expect from both Gregori and from Kerrelyn Sparks.
I have only recently found Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. Not only does she write some truly unforgettable characters, but she adds some fresh ideas to the normal paranormal genre. Her Dark-Hunter series also encompasses three different types of main characters: Dark-Hunters, Were-Hunters and Dream-Hunters. Staggering the main premise makes sure that her stories don’t become stale. Her antagonists, as well as her protagonists, are evolving as the series continues; she has moved on from the straight, soul-sucking daimon threat to add the Gallu (one bite will turn you into one), and in her last book, Retribution, she brought in a new apocalyptical threat drawn from Native American stories.
But as much as I love a series, over the years I have found that there are some series that I have completely lost interest in continuing. Why? Boring characters!
Most recently, I have given up on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse. I was never truly enamored with Sookie. She just wasn’t exciting. She’s a waitress who can read minds (oooo!)…and? She has a vampire boyfriend (yay!)…and? She keeps getting into trouble (very I Love Lucy)…and?... and?… More importantly, many of the other characters whom we were introduced to in the series were not very interesting. Sexy vampire Bill turns into Eric’s gopher. Sexy danger vampire Eric gets all clingy and needy after he finally sleeps with Sookie. Non-vampire love interests include Sam, a shifter, whose character was never well developed; Alcide, a werewolf, who became very wishy-washy after his initial introduction; and Quinn, a were-tiger, who had some big mommy issues. When her last book Dead Reckoning came out in May of this year, I didn’t even bother to put it on my TBR list. I have had enough of Sookie Stackhouse and her lackluster supporting cast.
I am an avid reader, but like all of us, my reading time is limited and very precious. What series do you still love? Which ones have you given up on?
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.