I think I’m becoming more fussy in my old age. Gone are the days when I would read anything, when everything caught my attention and kept it ’til the very last sentence. If any book manages to keep me reading nowadays, I have to try more of that author immediately. If it’s a series book, and couple more keep my attention too, that series may very well end up on my very small auto-buy series list.
My auto-buy series list is short. It takes quite a lot of evidence for me to trust an author enough to buy all their series books on release day, especially as some series seem to keep on going (The In Death series anyone?… not that I begrudge more Roarke…). I’ve noticed a pattern, a few commonalities that make a series addictive in my eyes.
- Strong Heroines in MF series– in hetero romance, I expect to love a Hero (if I hate him the book is often DNF anyway) but in the books I enjoy the most I love the Heroines too. These women are strong but not ball-busters, resilient but not teflon, forgiving but not door-mats and most of all they must be well rounded characters who bring something to the story that the Hero doesn’t. Thea Harrison’s Elder Races is a great example of a series where all the Heroine’s are strong, well written women.
- Each book is different without straying away from the theme – in the best series, there is a strong theme (whether it is plot content or world building) but each book is completely different. There is enough predictability within romance without adding series predictability to the mix and I often think it’s just lazy writing to make each book formulaic. I have recently broken up with the Stephanie Plum series because of just this. Stephanie still hasn’t picked between Ranger and Morelli, she will have something happen to a car or house, Grandma Mazur will wear something silly and do something outrageous….. I honestly don’t care anymore!
- Proper conflict, none of that teenaged bullshit – I want something where the main protagonists have substantial conflict, where it creates angst and tension. Whether it’s external or internal, it has to have teeth and not just because they aren’t talking to each other like grown-ups. That kind of conflict belongs in YA and not adult. I like the conflict in the Jill Shalvis novels as they show adult problems with the characters acting like adults whilst trying to solve them.
- Small world – I don’t know what it is but, for me, I like my series to be set in a small setting. This could be a small town (Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series), a family (Kele Moon’s Battered Hearts) or a world within a world (Thea Harrison’s Elder Races). I think it’s the recurrence of the characters; I can meet them before their book and get excited and I can see them again after their HEA and see how they are faring. This is another reason that I am considering breaking up with the JR Ward BDB series. The world is becoming rather convoluted and and I am finding it harder and harder to care about the HEA of the protagonists.
- A strong secondary genre – I don’t think there is a series on my auto-buy list that is pure romance. Whether it is humour, adventure or suspense, every book on there has something more and I need that to make the romance that more real. The Darynda Jones series is now on the list after book three as I never make it through a book without laughing hysterically at something Charlie says.
- Chemistry – I have to believe that the protagonists are completely in lust with each other and that is always down to the authors ability to write good chemistry. The Ball and Chain series is the list because I do believe that the characters can’t keep their hands off each other, that they just want to be together all of the time. This is the reason I keep reading and often why I get so pissed off with the characters when they don’t act like I think they should.
So what is on your list of reasons you read a particular series? And is there any, looking at my list, that you think I have to rea