Sometimes I feel out of step with most of the world of romance. I think myself and a very few others are kind of like the lone wolves of the romance reading world. I was visiting a message board earlier and a few posters were talking about looking forward to the brothers’ stories in a new series by a well known author. I read things like that and I feel not only not interested, but almost slightly annoyed. I dislike intensely the fact that just about every romance book written these days screams sequel bait. Wendy also has a post up about something very similar. She’s a fellow lone wolf. She started out as a mystery reader and doesn’t mind the endless series in mysteries, but she is also suffering from seriesitis when it comes to romance.
What happened to the good old days when a book stood on its own? When you closed the cover on the book and that was it. Finito! End of story, dust off your hands and move on to the next book which will be entirely different. I miss those days! I want them back again, at least for some books.
So – who is responsible for my current annoyance? Why readers for the most part unfortunately. Now this is just my theory and I could be all wet, and feel free to tell me I’m full of BS, but having been a romance reader for many years now, I’m going to put it forth as a thought. I think things started changing more dramatically once the internet began to catch on in a big way. Now, through web sites, blogs and other on line medium sources, readers had a way they could quickly contact authors. I’m sure quite a few readers used to use the old fashioned snail mail approach, but not the way they do with email. I only ever hand-wrote one letter to an author and I had no address to send it to so I sent it to her publisher hoping it would somehow make it’s way to her. It did but that’s another story. Nowadays with authors snail mail addresses, email addresses and web sites, they are very accessible. I myself have sent a few emails to authors when I’ve enjoyed their works; not many mind you, but a few. So with readers being able to contact authors much more readily, they feel much more likely to ask if the author is planning so and so’s story. And I think authors, wanting to please their readers have obliged. Then of course you have publishers taking note of this rather interesting phenomena. Now, I think, they almost require an author to write sequels. Authors don’t mind because they already have a base established so they don’t have to start from scratch with a story line, readers are happy because they don’t really have to say goodbye to beloved characters. It’s only a few people like me who really don’t like this new way of story telling. Now in some cases I don’t mind sequels, there are some secondary characters that really stand out and beg to be written. (and of course the rare one that hasn't been. Where's Cat's story I ask you damn it!) But on the whole, I’m not overly impressed with the whole thing. It's just done too much and too often.
And even less do I like the looooonnnggg extended series. Years ago, this wasn’t nearly as common as it is now. Back then Jo Goodman wrote a rather lengthy series about five sisters all named Mary. And as much as I adore Jo Goodman today, I really don’t feel like getting invested in that many books. Another author I remember from years gone by is Leigh Greenwood. He wrote a series about seven brother who all married flower girls – no, not girls from the 60’s . The heroines all were named after flowers - although one was called Fern and I don't know if ferns have flowers. I read a couple and then lost interest. But where I think this new way came in strong is with the incredible success of Julia Quinn and the Bridgerton clan. I lost interest long before she wrapped it up, but I know I’m in the minority – a salmon swimming upstream so to speak. As Wendy mentioned we have Stephanie Laurens. Now I’ve only read one book by her, the first in the long never ending series she’s written. I didn’t like it, again that salmon thing, ‘cause I know most readers did, and I’ve never been tempted to try her again. Then there is Christine Feehan and her Dark series, I’ve read a couple, Sherrilyn Kenyon, I made it to four and her Dark Hunter series and it goes one and on.
I know I’m an odd duck – or so Lisa always tells me – but I just long for a nice stand alone book these days.
‘But wait a minute,’ you’re thinking. ‘Didn’t you just say in your previous post that you can hardly wait until the next Elizabeth Hoyt book comes out?’
Well yes, yes I did. But that was more so because the author’s voice was so wonderful, and less so because I’m particularly anxious to read about a secondary character from The Raven Prince. It’s the authors’ voice that keeps me coming back book after book if I love her writing. Not the fact that I get to read the heroes sister, brother-in-laws cousins story or the best friend of the sister who has a cousin who is interested in the step sister of the hero. I could mostly care less about that. What I think would just fit the bill for us is a hero and heroine – both of them without siblings and if they have friends, they aren’t mentioned very often.
So, I’m a salmon, an odd duck and a lone wolf all rolled into one; a fish, fowl and mammal. I wonder how many of us there are?