Nancy: My Recipe for a Delicious Romance Series

As Justine announced yesterday, this week we’re discussing recipes of both the edible and readable kind. As I’ve planned and written and moved toward release of my romance series this past year, I’ve put a lot of thought into what I like in a romance series. Here’s my favorite recipe.

Start with an ensemble cast of characters who each bring something good to the party. Use their interconnected lives to lead us from the story of one happy couple to the next, but be sure to let their individual qualities shine, even when it’s not ‘their book’. When done well, you’ll have me pre-ordering the books that finally give my favorite secondary characters their own romance, like the duke in Slightly Dangerous from Mary Balogh’s Bedwyn Saga series.

Add a generous dollop of inside jokes, memories, and friendly bonding opportunities. Make me feel like I’m in on all the fun even if I haven’t read other books the series, but feel free to repeat or build on these fun themes across books, providing fan service for loyal readers. Think the running joke of the terrible music created  by the Smythe-Smith Quartet (with the musician line-up changing for each annual performance) from Julia Quinn’s The Bridgertons series.

Sprinkle in a bit of past HEAs. Show me the couples who got together in past books, still together, still happy, still interacting like they did in the book of their own love story. It shouldn’t be so heavy-handed that having read those other books in the series is a prerequisite to understanding the current book, but it should be enough to tempt me to pick up those other books to find out how the settled couples found their own happy endings together. The books in Anne Stuart’s House of Rohan series always include at least a few of the happy couples, made up of reformed rakes paired with strong women, from previous books. These happy couples guide, advise, and generally annoy the bejesus out of the couple currently struggling toward their own HEA.

Mix all ingredients together into a multi-book series, pair with a good red wine, and serve over a long weekend with nothing to do but read!

And now, an actual recipe… Continue reading

Nancy: Serious About Series Part 2: Bridgertons

It's In His Kiss is book 7 in Quinn's Bridgerton series.

It’s In His Kiss is book 7 in Quinn’s Bridgerton series.

Last week, in Part 1 of this series, I discussed Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache murder mystery series, and some of the pros and cons of having a long-running series with the same main and supporting characters. This week, I’m going to talk about a form much more familiar to romance readers: related books with a different set of main characters for each story. And it’s hard to think of a more fun way to look at romance series than revisiting Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton family, eight siblings (and eventually their widowed mother) who each get their own HEA.

In all honesty, I can’t remember which book of this series I read first, and it’s hard to pick a favorite. Thus far, I’ve only reread three of them with the goal of learning lessons to apply to my own future historical romance series, but already, I’ve gotten some great ideas.

Assemble a fun cast of characters, and give each of them a moment in the sun. Continue reading

Nancy: Serious About Series: Prologue

The original 1980 paperback cover of Roberta Gellis's The English Heiress.

The original 1980 paperback cover of Roberta Gellis’s The English Heiress.

That’s right. I used an 8LW banned word (or it would be, if we kept a banned words list). Prologue. In our McDaniel classes, Jenny instructed, encouraged, and pleaded with us to eschew prologues, because the story should start when the Thing That Changes Everything happens. But since this isn’t a story, I figure I can get away with it as an introduction to my series of posts on series.

The first series I remember reading in childhood was The Little House on the Prairie. The first romance book I read was book 1 of Roberta Gellis’s Heiress series. As soon as I finished it, I was thrilled to find out books 2 and 3 were available, and devoured them. To this day, I’m thrilled when I find a new series to love and often find myself googling impatiently when I’ve gone too long without an installment of one of favorites.

That love doesn’t stop at reading. It extends Continue reading