Thu
Jun 28 2012 8:13am

Secondary Characters in Romance Novels Who Take the Lead: Which are Your Favorites?

Secondary characters in romantic fiction can absolutely make a book or series. Who can forget Jenks in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series? Or hasn’t followed the Wingmance: Number Twos Who Finish First, when a secondary character becomes almost as important as the lead?

What would a historical romance be without an interfering older lady, a la Pride and Prejudice’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh? Sometimes, the IOL gets to say things no-one else can get away with, but either the hero or heroine is thinking it (as in, “You’d better take that ____ to bed, and soon!”)

Sometimes, secondary character gets their own stories; for example, the children of Loretta Chase’s Dreadful DeLucey series wind up as the hero and heroine of Last Night’s Scandal. Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series resulted in First Drop of Crimson, Denise’s story, and Once Burned, Vlad’s. Joanna Bourne made Adrian the hero of The Black Hawk, while Her Best Worst Mistake, by Sarah Mayberry, is a spin-off from Hot Island Nights.

Who are your favorite secondary characters? Would you like to see them in a leading role, or are you okay with them playing second fiddle?

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15 comments
Brie Clementine
1. Brie.Clem
One of my favorites is Hardy Cates from Lisa Kleypas' Sugar Daddy, who then becomes the hero in the next book, Blue-Eyed Devil *swoons*.

I'm daying to read Kaleb's book, from the Psy/Changeling books by Nalini Singh, hopefully he gets a book next.

Another favorite is Michael from the Guardian series by Meljean Brook, his book comes out next year. Most anticipated book of the decade for me, that's right, the decade! LOL

Most of these secondary characters aren't really meant to be secondary, though. I think 90% of the time they are written as part of a series with the possibility of one day becoming main characters. I'm trying to think of a secondary character that never gets a book, or that wasn't originally intended to get one and I can't think of any... Maybe Ian from the Night Huntress series, there are no plans to make him a hero and I find him one of the most interesting and charming characters in those books.
Ginny Doremus
2. FaeRhi
Jenks was the FIRST character I thought of when I read the title to to this entry. A lot of Lori Foster, Nora Roberts & Hannah Howell's secondary characters (brothers, sisters, children, etc) come to have their own books and stories, making the series. Jaye Wells' Sabina Kane series has Gighul, who makes the series. I LOVE him. In Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse, you have Sookie's fairy cousins (Claudine, Claude, Uncle Dermott)... Sherrilyn Kenyon gave Nick his own series to explain his back story. Lauren Dane branched out from the Brown siblings to the Delicious series, the stories of the friends of Gillian & Miles on the island. Christine Feehan had the Seven Sisters Sea Haven series which has branched into the Sisters of the Heart series, where the rest of the Prakenskii men will be reunited and find love.
So many more. I love it!!!
Anna Bowling
3. AnnaBowling
Sometimes, a supporting character is just a supporting character, and I'm okay with that.

Cat from The Windflower by Tom and Sharon Curtis, writing as Laura London, comes to mind.

Damien, the only eunuch I ever wanted to see as a romantic lead (trust me on this) from Mia Marlowe's (aka Diana Groe) Silk Dreams, absolutely floored me and if the author never revisits him, he gets a HEA in my headcanon.
Ginny Doremus
4. FaeRhi
I totally forgot Mr. Wong in the Charley Davidson series!!!!
Lege Artis
5. LegeArtis
Oh, Hawker! ::looking book for reread::
I love Joanna Bourne- first time we met Hawk in The Spymaster's Lady we wanted his story...
Hardy Cates- OMG, I loved him in Sugar Daddy more than actual hero. His book was autobuy.
Some secondary characters are so strong that their stories are begged to be told- In Kate Daniels series, there is bunch of secondaries who are interesting and I want to know more about them. Luckily, I'll have that chance with Andrea, Raphael,Jim...
With Night Huntress series things are little different- I wasn't into Spade's book-he is good supportive character, but Ian and Vlad have enough essence to give them story I would read in a second.
Patty Briggs gave us Charles in first Mercy Thompson book, but she made us love him with her spin off series Alpha & Omega. Her wolves are my favorites...
Aidan
6. Aidan
My first thought was Sam and Alyssa from Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series. They are introduced in the first one and go through a lot of passion and sadness before getting their own book. Delicious torture, I just loved them.

I second on Patricia Briggs, I love her secondaries. I so want Bran to have his own story where he can get a mate he loves.
Glass Slipper
7. GlassSlipper
I can't forget Thanatos from Kresley Cole's IAD series. What a haunting character he was! I haven't yet read the last few books, so I'm not caught up. Is she planning a book for him?

I also love Levet the Gargoyle in Alexandra Ivy's Guardians of Eternity series. He's adorable. I'm not caught up on that series either, so hopefully nothing bad has happened to him.
Kiersten Hallie Krum
8. Kiersten
Sam Starrett FTW. His and Alyssa's story was the 3rd and then 2nd bill in several books until they finally came front and center for their own (somewhat disappointing) book to lead to their HEA.

I love La Nora's Chesepeake Bay series so much, though it's Cameron's book (the first) that's my fave, a few years later, NR gave us a fourth installment as Seth final comes of age and gets his own HEA. Seeing his story unfold thoughout each of his brother's books and then finally to be the hero of his own was nigh romancelandia perfection, especially as it lets us see each of his brother's 15 or so years later too. Love. It.
Aidan
9. Jeannie Lin
Yo Adrian!!!!

I have to say I was waiting for a book featuring Hawker (hate the Black Hawk chesty cover guy, LOVE the book) since Joanna Bourne's very first book. The great thing about the Spymaster books is that they really do feature an ensemble cast that works well together. It doesn't feel like a bunch of random alpha males thrown together which could never function as a team. (Aside: Which is why I loved the line from the Avengers - "We're not a team, we're a time bomb")

I loved Hardy from Sugar Daddy/Blue-eyed Devil too. When you're part of a love triangle, you're almost assured your own book, right? :)

Very often I see a secondary and I think "sequel bait". It doesn't make me excited for the character. I'd like them to have their own purpose in the story rather than just be a walking advertisement for the sequel
Valerie Bowman
10. ValerieBowman
@Anna. OMG. I've been waiting for Cat's story from The Windflower since 1988 or whenever I first read that book! One of the best secondary characters of ALL TIME.
Aidan
11. Kris Bock
As I was reading My Lord and Spymaster, I hoped both Adrian and Doyle would get their own books, but I was skeptical, because they didn't seem like standard historical romance heroes (tall, handsome and titled). I was delighted to meet them both again as the leading heroes!
Anna Bowling
12. AnnaBowling
Putting in another vote for Hawker here, and though I first met Joanna Bourne's Doyle as a hero (yes, I waited until his book was published before reading the others; I'm anal about chronological order) seeing him -and Maggie- in supporting roles elsewhere in her world is like running into old friends.

@ValerieBowman, I know! If the Curtises ever do want to write a book for Cat, I'd be all over it like a kitty on catnip. Pun intended.
Aidan
13. emmel
Mary Balogh has some marvelous secondary characters. Two that I love are the Earl and Countess of Clifton, the parents of the heroine of A Counterfeit Betrothal. They are estranged, and the story of their reconciliation makes a great secondary romance to that of their daughter and her hero.
Heather
14. tadyena
I do not know if this will count or not but Drizzt Do'Urden in R A Salatore books. He is now a main character in a bunch of books, but he was original written (according to the author) to be a small secondary character and by the end of the book he had taken over. He is still one of my favorite character, and I will read any book he is in - main character or not.
Aidan
15. deniz
I loved Adrian! Many of my other favourites are characters in the Outlander series - both Ian Murrays, William Grey, Lord John Grey...
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