Read the comments on any of our Black Dagger Brotherhood Re-Read posts, and it’s clear we, as romance readers, latch on to one guy. We have a favorite. It’s even more pronounced with a series. I look forward to seeing Cat and Bones together in each Night Huntress novel. I want them to fight and make up, and I really want them together.
And because of this I’m impressed when an author can make me change my mind.
I may be in love with a hero in book one, but if an author can break him and the heroine up and give me someone new — and make me believe it’s for the best? I’m in that series for life. It shows the strength of the heroine that we want to stick with her, sure, but it also shows just how talented the author is at crafting hero characters that not only appeal to readers on a “mine” level, but also become exponentially better fits for the heroine.
Allison Pang’s recently-released book A Sliver of Shadow does just this. In the first book A Brush of Darkness, heroine Abby Sinclair fell hard for Brystion. He was an incubus with insight into her darkest fears. And offered up blow-her-mind sex. It was an intense courtship, and as a reader I was always rushing forward for the next interaction between the two.
Then they broke up.
But it was one of those half-hearted “it’s best for both of us” things. And I was so sure they’d be back in bed together as soon as I started A Sliver of Shadow. They weren’t. There’s tension and an undercurrent of “what if,” but shunned faery prince Talivar looks damn good. He’s spent eight months acting as Abby’s bodyguard in the time between books one and two, and his background makes him such a strong match for Abby.
Somehow Pang made me forget about Brystion by showing this devotion and desire from the new hero Talivar. And he didn’t need any sexy magic to make things h-o-t, either. Pang isn’t the only one who has pulled us from one sizzling hero to another without raising hackles.
Charlaine Harris has done it more times than most. We started with Sookie and Bill, which I’ll admit I liked in the first book. There was a draw to Alcide that never quite panned out. A taste of time with amnesiac Eric. She later tried to make it work with a weretiger who I’m convinced looks just like Vin Diesel. Finally back to non-amnesiac Eric.
I mean, really, we got invested in the heroes in the Sookie Stackhouse series enough that even post breakup, they continue to pop up in the storyline, but somehow I don’t find myself wondering why she didn’t make it work with suitor A, B, or C. As she grows so does her understanding of love and commitment. We may not agree with Sookie’s choices—she has had some TSTL moments —but with each romance subplot we’ve seen her match be appropriate for her character growth.
Even Kim Harrison managed the transition from killing off a beloved hero in her The Hollows series —oh, Kisten! Sure, we miss him. Rachel does, too. However, as the series has progressed, we find ourselves wishing Trent would get a proper chance with her. Their sexual tension has ratcheted up, and somehow I’ve let go of the whole turning her into a rodent thing.
That was novels ago.
Can you move on to a new hero in a beloved series? Which books do it well? Which ones blew it big time? Let’s brainstorm in the comments.
While Chelsea Mueller runs Vampire Book Club, she won’t turn down a sexy werewolf, demon or faerie. (Her husband often reminds her that she’s taken.)