Sep 21 2013 2:30pm

Waiting to Inhale: Series-ish Business

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley ColeBuying into a series can be a heavy investment, so it's not unreasonable to expect an equally heavy payout. Sounds mercenary, but it’s not. With more and more books crowding the TBR pile, who has the time or the inclination to continue with a book, much less a series, that isn't engaging? While we’ve all read many posts on the reasons you may break up with a series (I’ve written a few myself), what about a series you grew to love? Have you ever started a series and basically tossed the book aside, chalked it up to an experience learned, and left it? Only to be convinced by friends that the next installments get better and are worth another chance? I have.

Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series is that kind of series for me. After reading The Warlord Wants Forever, I didn't have plans to continue reading the series; I despised both the hero and the heroine and felt the plot was weak and uninspiring. But time and time again I was urged to read A Hunger Like No Other, book two of the series. My reading friends said the characters are more defined and the storyline is very addictive. Finally, I caved and discovered my friends were right—as the series progressed, I fell in love with Cole’s characters, especially those naughty Valkyries. I am glad I gave it a second chance.

Bloodfever by Karen Marie MoningAnother series that failed to impress me in the beginning was Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Book one, Darkfever, did not elicit the same rapturous feelings in me as it did others in my reading circles. I found Mac to be a spoiled, whiny, unappealing person and Barrons was a jerk of the first order. The premise, however, was interesting and unique enough to have me thinking really hard about reading book two, Bloodfever. With Bloodfever

I began to appreciate the evolving characterization of Mac and Barrons. I may not have still liked them but I could see where Moning was headed and their gradual maturity, achieved through trial and blood, was interesting to view. Mac was still TSTL at times, but her mistakes were honest and the fact she learned from them was gratifying. With each new installment, the story swept me up and I become more vested in the outcome. Barrons’s transformation had a lot to do with that, too. But the romance in the series doesn’t play out like a typical romance; I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it will, as Moning has amply shown throughout this series and in the Fever world spin-off began in Iced.

Master of the Mountain by Cherise SinclairCherise Sinclair’s Shadowland series was almost a no go for me after I read book one, Club Shadowlands. Z, the hero, makes the heroine sign a contract, giving up certain freedoms in order to receive shelter during a tropical storm, and that was an unpleasant characteristic. The heroine's attitude wasn't much better, either; who doesn’t read a contract before signing? Then I tried Sinclair’s Mountain Masters series. Master of the Mountain started out really well, about a tortured dom and a vulnerable heroine who find love and trust together. Later on, however, a humiliation scene in the book put me off. I don’t like humiliation scenes, period, but I really don't like them when they are applied to a novice sub who is still learning the ropes (heh). Especially a heroine whose diminished self esteem almost guarantees she won’t stop the scene no matter what for fear of losing the relationship.

I did eventually go back to Sinclair’s Shadowland series and the storylines and long-standing arc got progressively better. Stronger heroines were introduced and the heroes weren’t such alphaholes.

When I went on twitter and posed this question to the masses, these are some of the responses I received:

@tspence9: I hardly ever love the first book in a series. Generally takes 3-5 books before the I hit the “holy shit” book.

@sofiaharp: Series is a hard sell for me. So I have to love whatever first book I read or I don't come back.

@sac402: Demonica… first book was hard to get thru but I love it now! :-)

@natashaw1: Meljean's Demon series. Didn't like the first few, ADORE from the 3rd/4th on :)

@Jess_Haines: None I can think of. I don't have the time/energy to continue a series if I don't like the first book.

@TheBookNympho: Fever. I didn't see what the it was all about till the middle of the 2nd book. Now I LOVE it.

So tell me, do you give a series one more chance if the first or second book doesn’t wow you? Or do you just walk away?


Tori Benson can be found at Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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1. Beans628
I was so prepared to say "of course I do!" Then I thought about it and I have yet to continue a series after a meh first book!! I think it's just because my TBR pile is just big that I just don't get around to second chances. I have yet to continue the Chess/Terrible series, Linda Fairstein's series and more. Ugh. One day! I hate giving up!
2. pamelia
Two of my favorite series started out with books that were not so great (IMO): Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books. Still, I can't say I wasn't interested to keep reading since both those first books still had a great amount of promise (which was realized in later books.)
So, obviously I will give series a second chance, but if they don't grab me by the second installment I usually give up.
Lege Artis
3. LegeArtis
Interesting post, Tori...
I agree 100% with you on Fever. I wasn't impressed with first book at all...
I got into Cut & Run series when third one, Fish & Chips, was released. I kept leaving first book on the side and when I finally read it, I wasn't pressured at all to get on second book immediately. I didn't particulary liked mystery part... Now it's one of my favorite crack series.
The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell also grew up on me with second book...
Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo. Tehnically, I started with third book in series, The Redbreast, (since first two weren't translated on english. I belive in December will finally second book get english translation). The book was massive succes, yet I was hooked with later books....
4. Jenny Trout
I almost missed out on the Dark Hunters series because I read Night Pleasures first. Or attempted to read it. I absolutely hated it. A few months later, I gave it another try, and I must have been in a book funk or something, because I totally fell in love with the series. I fell away with this last book-- I just couldn't handle the content and gave up around page 113-- but I had such good times with the books before that!

I'm hoping the same thing will happen for me with J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. I gave the first book about forty pages and thought it wasn't for me, but I'm saving it because who knows, I might pick it up on a good day and really enjoy it!

Another thing I've found is that sometimes, a series won't grow on me unless I read them out of order. I tried Jacquelyn Frank's Nightwalkers from the first book, and couldn't get into it, then received a later book in the series a few years down the road. I was stuck at an airport, I started reading it, and then I went back and read all of the books-- out of order-- and loved each and every one.
Carmen Pinzon
5. bungluna
@Pamelia - you must be my long-lost reading twin. I had problems with both those series (Dresden and Kate Daniels) and didn't get hooked until book #3 and #2 respectively.

Another series I had trouble with was ...In Death. I didn't find book one very rivetting, so I desided not to follow yet another series. My reading buddies convinced me to give it another go, (by then I think it was in book #5) and I glomed them in a row and absolutely fell in love.
6. Torifl
@JennyTrout-I too find I can get back into a series if I skip around. I wasn't a huge fan of the first book in Ward's BRB. I wasn't a fan of Beth or Wrath. lol Still not but I grew to like the series.

@Bean628-I've tried Linda Fairstein so many times. I just can't do her.

@LegeArtis-I started Roux's series with the third book too. lol I went back and read the first two but it was the 3rd book that hooked me.
7. Lauren B
Never really warmed up to Mac in the Fever series. While I did read it for Barrons and the story arc, it will never be a favorite.

That said, The Dresden Files and Kate Daniels both started out slow but are now must reads and I loved IAD from the start although there are one or two that were meh for me.

Demonica and Monings Highlanders are two more series that had so-so beginnings but I ended up enjoying them immensely.
Jennifer Proffitt
8. JenniferProffitt
I 100% agree about the Demonica books. I just started reading the series and felt underwhelmed by it all. However, now I'm on book 3 and I'm loving it! Also felt that way about the Psy-Changeling series. However, usually I have the opposite reaction where the first book in the series is often my favorite just because it introduced me to the world.

A sidenote on the Kresley Cole mention: It should be noted that while Warlord Wants Forever is technically the first book in the series it was not the first published book, which was A Hunger Like No Other (the acutal start of the series), which might explain why you didn't love WWF. It was published years later in, I think, an erotic anthology. So while it chronologically started the events of the series, HLNO is the story that really started Immortals After Dark. HLNO remains in my Personal Top 10 and a favorite in the series for me.
9. SamanthaB
Nalini Singh's Archangels Series with Angels' Blood. I didn't care for it and couldn't get into it, but I tried again with Archangel's Kiss and liked it, so I went back and tried Angels' Blood again and now I love the series and cannot wait for Archangel's Legion in October.
10. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)
I follow what I call my two-book rule, especially when my book friends assure me the series significantly improves. It's served me well as I would have missed out on some outstanding stories if I had given up on some series because of their weak starts. If after two books I'm still not feeling the interest, I'll set the series aside. I've been known, though, to extend this rule to three books when too many of my friends with similar taste promise me things get better.

Fever, Troubleshooters, and The Night Huntress are just a few I would have missed out on if I had evaluated them based on the first book. The payoff was great so I'll just keep following my rule.
Rachel Barckhaus
11. Rhi
It depends for me. I'm wickedly behind in my reading; I still have books published about 5 years ago to read in my TBR. For me, it depends on the author, whether people I know are reading the series, and whether there is anything about the book itself - secondary characters, the arc of the plot, etc. - that I'm curious about and want to find out. I'm usually more likely to stop reading a series because I grew bored with the concept, or something I initially liked about the series when I first started reading it years ago, now bothers me. (And yes, I'm thinking about two specific series.) Because I don't have a lot of time to read new books, I usually either go for tried and true authors or something that has been so heavily recommended, it should be good.

OTOH, that doesn't always work out since I think the Hunger Games trilogy was meh, instead of awesome like everyone else.
12. Laura H
It depends greatly for me. Sometimes if there is just one book I can't get through I quit. I know I'm a quitter. Unless I have a recommendation from a friend that I am "so wrong, it's awesome" then I will trudge through it. Sometimes, I get so far into a series that I keep reading no matter what. (I know a lot of people that gave up on Anita Blake, but I still read it!)
I just started the 3rd book in Downside and I am getting very frustrated with Chess. I'm sure I'll pick it up in a few months and continue since everyone tells me it's awesome.
I had a hard time with the Fever series as well, but ended up loving it in the end.
Dresden Files was a little rough at first, I read the first 3 and then took a break. Again, my friends recommend this one highly so I'm sure I'll pick this up again as well.
Grad school is kind of hindering me right now. I'm two books behind in Anita (Hamilton), two books behind in Dark Hunters (Kenyon), four books behind in Argeanau? (Sands), three books behind in Love at Stake (Sparks), two books behind in Night Huntress (Frost) and one book behind in (Harrison) - these are my "must reads". Ok, truly there are a lot more on my list!
Another one I have a love/hate relationship with is the House of Night Series (Cast). My friend and I call these the train wreck books because of the choppy narration, spelling and grammar errors that catch our eye and make us want to grab a red pen. Can't stop reading them though, it's just not possible.
Ellen Hutchings
13. shadowmaster13
@JenniferProffitt, The Warlord Wants Forever was published in Playing Easy to Get in 2006 months before AHLNO, but while it's first in the series it really shouldn't be read first even if the events start just before AHLNO.
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