Sometimes when I’m reading a book by a new-to-me author, if the writing is stunningly good and the plot is ratcheting up nicely, in the middle of my enjoyment I’ll hear a voice at the back of my head warning me not to get too carried away, because however smart the author is, there’s always a risk that the way she chooses to resolve the story might not work for me.
Funny thing, but even after I’ve settled down to a harmonious relationship with an author and built up a level of trust that their story choices are likely to make me happy, I’ll still look at an upcoming release, close my eyes and hope it’s going to be all right. That’s most likely to happen in the final book of a series, because confidence in the author + emotional investment over multiple books + increasing story stakes + ever-higher expectations -> nose-bleed high risk.
So no pressure, then, Julie Anne Long, whose eleventh and final Pennyroyal Green historical romance, The Legend of Lyon Redmond, is released on 29th September. I love this series about two wealthy, influential and socially ambitious families living in the same idyllic Sussex village and locked in a generations-old feud. To borrow a test from Michaeline (in the comments to this post by Elizabeth), the Pennyroyal Green books give me the strong feeling that the author likes human beings and can sympathize with their foibles. The stories are peopled with fascinating, flawed, likable characters and because the families aren’t blue-blooded, the settings are as likely to be about trade, power and influence as they are about horses and house parties. They touch on high society but they also dip into social issues and the seamy side of life. They strike a clever balance between period flavor and modern attitude, and sometimes steer deliciously close to crazysauce/fairy tale territory (pirates!). In short, they’re huge fun.
The final book in the series is the love story which has been trailed, gossiped about and speculated upon in every single one of the previous ten books, the tale of the legendary curse: once in a generation, a Redmond and an Eversea are fated to fall disastrously in love. Our Hero, his family’s beloved heir, has been missing since Book 1 (though we now have some clues about where he’s been and why), and Our Heroine has finally decided to marry someone else, so this book has the potential to bring the series to a spectacular and satisfying conclusion.
At least I’m pretty confident the right characters will end up together, so I know I’m not destined for the extreme book fury vented by readers who felt betrayed by the heroine’s choice of HEA in Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris’s final Sookie Stackhouse novel. Has a book ever made you that angry?
Gemini, the final book of Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolo series, remains the only book I’ve physically slung across the room in a white-hot rage. I’d just read and loved her Lymond Chronicles and I carried over boatloads of emotional investment and over-expectation into the new series. Eight roller-coaster books later I felt beyond cheated by the big reveal at the end.
Breaking Dawn finished me for the Twilight series. I read the books one after the other during a holiday in Australia and I was driving my husband nuts adding book-bricks to our suitcases until Book 4 solved the problem and they all hit the hotel waste basket – not because Bella ended up married to Edward (though I was Team Jacob all the way), but because Bella found her Destiny by Plot Device, which I thought was a three-way cop-out, and also because the way the love triangle with Jacob was resolved squicked me out.
I remember feeling worried about how Sherrilyn Kenyon would write Acheron, her book about the mysterious boss of the Dark-Hunters, and I have a clear memory of feeling mostly relieved that she made it work. The only problem was that book finished the Dark-Hunters story in my mind, so I didn’t engage with subsequent books in the series, of which I believe there have been many.
I’m hearing lots of Good Book Noise for The Lure of the Moonflower, the thirteenth and final book in Lauren Willig’s Secret History of the Pink Carnation. This series has been on my radar for ages (regular 8LW visitor Rachel Beecroft is a big fan) and now I’m even more tempted.
In the meantime I’m going to treat myself to a re-read of my favorite Pennyroyal Green books to get myself in the mood for Lyon and Olivia. If it’s half as good as I’m hoping, it’ll be fabulous.
Do you suffer from series anxiety? Which series delivered for you? Or didn’t? Why?