Genre writing is rife with series, and it’s easy to see why. Once we fall in love with a set of characters, it’s hard to let them go. This presents a problem for contemporary romance writers, since once the characters get together, the story’s usually complete. Romantic suspense writers can get around this by having the romance secondary to the main plot of each book, allowing the romantic arc to span an entire series. But if the romance IS the plot, then how does one make a series?
There are two methods I’ve seen writers use with success. The first is a simple sequel –despite some intractable issues, the couple gets together in the first book but those issues almost break them up in the second, until of course, they resolve their differences and rediscover their bliss. Perhaps it’s my own troubled romantic past, but I can never quite make this one work.
The other, and far more popular, method of writing contemporary romance in series, is to have secondary characters in one book get their own story in another. Think Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, K.A. Mitchell’s Bad Company/Bad Boyfriend and – eh hem – Dev Bentham’s Tarnished Souls. The beauty of this kind of series for writers of contemporary romance is that each couple can have a happy ever after resolution, and readers can check back in later to find them still happy and relatively drama-free.
Tarnished Souls is my Jewish Holiday m/m romance series. The men in these stories have made terrible choices. They’ve trusted the wrong people, traded sex for money or shelter or security, and now find they need to make hard decisions if they want real love. Books 1 and 2, Learning from Isaac and Fields of Gold are available now and Book 3, Sacred Hearts will out sometime next month in time for Hanukkah.
The books were written to be read in any order. The characters appear in each other’s stories so, for example, you run into Isaac and Nathan from Learning from Isaac in Avi and Pete’s book, Fields of Gold. There aren’t any spoilers in later books (other than that the couple are still together, which isn’t really a spoiler since this is romance–of course they live happily ever after) and there’s nothing you need to know from the first or second book in order to understand the third and so on. So if you happen to pick up Fields of Gold first, you’ll find that reading Learning from Isaac feels like asking an established couple, “How’d you meet?”
As a reader, I always enjoy running into characters I’ve met in other books. How about you? And what’s your favorite contemporary romantic series? Or are you more drawn to stand alone books when it comes to contemporary?z