It’s a good thing there are so many subgenres of romance, because the industry certainly tailors to the notion of having something for everyone. Like many of us, I read voraciously and am in constant search of new authors. I’ve read myself out of my local library, and have to walk a fine line with my soul mate on how many books I buy each month (digitally and in print) so it won’t “put us in the poor house.” And because I read so much, I find that I really like a different storyline each time. A series is a real emotional investment that I don’t always have time to give. Short series appeal to me, and I much prefer series tie-ins that make allusion to previous characters rather than focusing so heavily on involving them, again, in another book. A great example of this tangent-style series is Avery Flynn’s Layton Family series. Love her wit and voice, and love her sparingly off-handed mentions of characters past. But Flynn’s tangent style is not necessarily the norm.
I was new to romantic suspense when I read Catherine Coulter’s The Cove, and I scooped the next book in the series, The Maze when it came out. We’re introduced to FBI agent Dillon Savich in The Cove, but he really begins to shine in the follow-up. He also bucks the system and falls in love with one of his agents, Lacey Sherlock. I can remember thinking, at the time, “Way to go, Savich… standing up for love like that.”
The next book in the series, The Target, is another fine example of heart-racing suspense. We meet Judge Ramsey Hunt, burned out from a particularly visible case and resting at a cabin in the woods, helping frantic mother Molly Santerarescue her kidnapped daughter, Emma. Once it’s obvious that Ramsey is actually helping Emma, he and Molly team up to survive. But they need the FBI to step in—and I recall getting a little worried. Could you guess that Sherlock and Savich were sent in to help? I was wondering if they were the only two agents employed by the FBI.
The fourth book in the series, The Edge, is probably my favorite Coulter story because aside from the standard power couple, the story is great. There’s a really strange psychotropic-drug-that-lowers-your-inhibitions twist that makes for a sexy, suspenseful story. FBI agent Ford “Mac” MacDougal is recovering from car bombing injuries when his sister drives her Porsche off an Oregon cliff. He races to her bedside, relieved when she comes out of her coma. Their reunion is short-lived, however, because she disappears. In searching for her, he meets undercover cop Laura Scott and after a rocky beginning, they find themselves knocked out, drugged and whisked away to a South American jungle (it’s that unexpected in the story, too). So in the midst of desperately trying to find his sister, Jilly, and escape the terrorist clasp of their kidnappers, Mac and Laura are relieved to rely on…you guessed it, Sherlock and Savich. Again. I didn’t mention that the Dynamic Duo was present when Mac and Laura were drugged, and Sherlock was injured, which really pissed me off. Because what the hell—I’ve already been emotionally invested in those two. I’ve puckered up and held my breath while they escaped certain death and doom. Thrice already. I’m ready to focus on Mac and Laura by this time in the series.
The FBI series is sixteen books long now. And each story has its own charm and badassness that calls to my suspense-loving heart, but the ADD in my mind is screaming for a new storyline. Or, really, the completion of Sherlock and Savich’s story. But I’m a glutton for punishment, and though I glossed over the Sherlock and Savich parts to get to the new characters, I added Riptide, number five, and Hemlock Bay, number six, to my permanent bookshelf. Don’t get me wrong: both of these stories are fabulous, until Sherlock and Savich stroll in with their redundant swagger. Can you imagine working with those two? I’d be like, “Great, they’re here—again.”
I LOVE Ms. Coulter’s style, and she’s a fantastic storyteller. But in the pantheon of possible FBI characters that could make their way into her imagination, there are bound to be a different cast of characters who could’ve scrambled after the bad guy in these books. I think she missed a great opportunity to call the series “The Sherlock and Savich Files,” rather than “The FBI Series.”
It’s funny; my mother and I share very similar tastes in romance, on all but one front: series. She loves a long-continuing series, like these FBI tales from Catherine Coulter and Nora Roberts'd JD Robb books, as much as I get bored with them. We’re both smart women. Maybe you can help me: Are you pro or con on romantic series?
Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and in the spring of 2012, her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.