Mar 9 2012 9:30am

Falling in Love a Second Time: Heroes from Allison Pang, Charlaine Harris, and Kim Harrison

A Sliver of Shadow by Allison PangRead 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.

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine HarrisCharlaine 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.

Black Magic Sanction by Kim HarrisonEven 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.)

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Tori Benson
Great post Chelsea. I'm still on the fence with Ion and Taliver. Totally ready for Rachel adn Trent to come to some sort of understanding. As for Sookie, I think she needs to sod off and Eric and Bill need someone else to love. lol

It's hard for me to let go of an established hero in a series. It has to be early enough in the romance in order for me to accept that the heroine can and should move on .

Jennifer Estep does a great job in her Elemental series. We all rooted for her and Donovan until he destroyed that love and then we found Owen and all is right in the world now.

LKH, in her early Anita stories, does a fine job of convincing us that JC is MUCH better for Anita then Richard and was able to let Richard and his many, many hang ups go without a care.
2. ChelseaMueller
LKH, in her early Anita stories, does a fine job of convincing us that JC is MUCH better for Anita then Richard and was able to let Richard and his many, many hang ups go without a care.
This. Such a good point, Tori.
3. mmph77
Other than whats already been mentioned.... Karen Chance does this IMO with Mircea being the first, and Pritkin second. (even though Cassie still hasnt made any decisions in the matter, yet!)
Colleen Gleason also gives way to this theme in her Gardella series. Loved this series, total historical Buffyesque!
Oooh, also Rachel Vincent's YA Soul Screamers stole my heart & the show with her second!
And I firmly believe in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy, Adrian should have stayed the best choice. But I digress with this one. *sigh*
4. Chelle
mmph77 - I'm sorry but how could Adrian ever be the right choice? Besides, I think he and Sydney are going to explore whatever the heck is hidden under her alchemy...
5. ChelseaMueller
@mmph74 - I'm 100% with you on the Soul Screamers one. However, as much as I love Adrian, I believe Dimitri was the right person for Rose. I'm hoping Adrian gets some proper love (and a more balanced relationship) with Sydney in the Bloodlines series.
6. mmph77
After Dimitri turned, I turned.. far away from him. I was always an Adrain lover so I know I am in the vast minority here. I just seem to always have a problem with Richelle Mead and the men her heroines choose. Except Dorian, but not fully in the know where that is concerned, I cannot bring myself to read that final book yet! Also, I realized a couple of my choices were more love-triangles not a "first love and second love" aspect. oops :(
Barbara Bauschka
7. njoireading
@mmph77: Colleen Gleason was exactly whom I thought of when I read this post. I really loved Sebastian and know that Victoria did too. Although Max was a good choice I still had a little piece of me that wanted Sebastian to win out at the end. I find this happens more in historial (regency) romance books that are written as a series. I am reading A Rogue By Any Other Name and just finished Lady Folbroke's Delicious Deception. In a Rogue, the heroine has had to move on as she was jilted in the previous book by that book's hero. In Lady Folbroke it isn't as obvious but in letting John down easily, it opens up that he can find his true love in the next book.
8. mmph77
@njoireading- I loved both men, Max a bit more, but the promise of a Sebastion spin-off made it easier to accept. I just dont know if that will ever really happen anymore. Sad, because it was just getting started for him.

One more I thought of...
I have noticed, in JA Sarre's Rhiannon's Law series, a lot of people have jumped from the Disco train onto the Paine steam engine. I however will take either...or both. Im no fool! ;)
9. ChelseaMueller
@mmph77 - I vote for Disco/Paine sandwich. (My answer is always for a hot man sandwich, though.)
10. mmph77
@Chelsea OhMiGosh YESSS! 100% agree!
11. Airy
I alway imagened Quinn more like the Rock.
Megan Frampton
12. MFrampton
So apropos of nothing but that everytime I see the title of this post I think of the Marlene Dietrich song "Falling in Love Again." So I had to share the earworm.
13. Marina_ro
Im all for the Vampire so my vote on the Adrian -Dimitri challenge is deffinatelly Adrian!

But my favorite second hero is Derek in the Kate Daniels series he is going to be such a tormented hero that I'm only going to love him more!
Mary Slack
14. Maryterry3
Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow. She started out with Jack, but after he was killed(!) she's finally in solid with Jim Chopin, who was the biggest playboy before pairing off with Kate.
15. Jessn1017
I know it was already mentioned above, but Rachel Vincent, with her Soul Screamers series, has totally transitioned from one hero to another, and most mind-blowingly to me, in a way that feels completely organic. I feel the pain of the loss of the first love, combined with the "I still care and want you to be healthy, happy, and okay" feelings, but alongside that, the devlopment of the new feelings and relationship. I feel like I have actually been taken through the 5 stages of grief in the loss of the first relationship, including denial and anger, but have now grown into acceptance (although with still a little twinge of sadness) and am ready to move on with a new guy, as is Kaylee.
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