What’s in Your Sequel?

July 16, 2008 at 6:00 am (General, Marcia Colette)

One thing that has always bugged me about paranormal romances is once the couple gets together, their story is over. Usually, I’ve invested so much time in these characters that I can’t wait for their second book. However, given that this is paranormal romance, there’s a good chance that it won’t happen. Is it possible to have a paranormal romance sequel with the same loving characters and still call it a romance?

Sherrilyn Kenyon is one of my all-time faaaaavorite paranormal romance authors. She keeps her Dark Hunter series going because she’s developed a fantastic world where the dark hunters have to find their true love in order to be set free from Artemis, the bitch goddess, as Simi calls her. Anyway, I like her series because we get glimpses of what’s going on with the other established couples while trying to get two new lovebirds together. They’re having babies while still fighting off the daimons and worrying about the world in which they’re raising their children.

So there in lies the problem. I want to know about these couples after the fact and I want to know if their kids are normal or crazed little monsters who need a some valium sprinkled on top of their Rice Krispies. I want a book that explores the lives of our beloved characters to see if the family life is for them or not. However, to do this wouldn’t necessarily mean the story is a romance anymore. It would be more like an paranormal with romantic elements. No more romance at the core of the story because it’s already been established at this point. Would this be a deal breaker for you?

IMHO, I don’t think so. If it’s a good book and the writer did a fantastic job with me falling in love with the lovers falling in love, then I am so there. While I expect my romance to have a happy ending, if they’ve already reached their happy ending when the next story starts, I’m fine with that. It’s just that I have such a hard time letting go of a couple I love and I want to know more about their “aftermath” story. Sure, it would have romance in it, but I doubt it would fall into the definition of a romance. Think about it. What would you do for book three? Break them up again? Heck, by book four they’ll need marriage counseling to put them back together. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to stay away from the soap opera gimmicks.

What do you think? Would you have a problem if the sequel isn’t a paranormal romance?

~Marcia Colette

http://www.marciacolette.com

8 Comments

  1. Teresa D'Amario said,

    Marcia,

    JR Ward keeps up hers after the sequel, and in some cases, so does Nalini Singh. In mine, I actually reference the previous couple a bit… (In my WIP, not the current release). That way they aren’t “lost” to the hearts of the reader. Sometimes they even guest spot. But I don’t think I’ll be writing one with the couple as a primary pair again, because that would pull us into Urban Fantasy more than romance, and I write more romance. (at least at this time). Notice how I’m not making any promises today? LOL.

  2. Beth C. said,

    I just thinking the same thing. It would be closer to urban fantasy and you get glimpses of the previous couples in Nalini Singh’s books. Can’t wait for the next one. Christine Feehan in her Dark and Drake series gives glimpses of previous couples. More so with the Drake series because they are a family of close-knit sisters.

    Beth

  3. Michele Hauf said,

    I agree, if the sequel puts a lot of emphasis on a previous pairing then I don’t think the romance can be as strong. Of course there’s romance after marriage, but I want to see that new love, I guess, in my romances.
    I like to toss in references to previous couples in my series as well. Just to give readers a peek into what’s up with the couple. Mention if they married, or if they had kids. I cross genres with my characters too. I mentioned a character from one of my Lunas in a recent Nocturne. Because in my world they’re all connected one way or another.🙂

  4. Savanna Kougar said,

    Marcia, what a fantastic blog and topic. My question: How can a true love story ever end?
    Love makes all the worlds and realms go round, so how can the romance ever be over?
    It never is, nor is the adventure of living and life.
    Why should marriage or a declaration of love mean the love story is over?
    I think that’s kinda short-sighted. I believe their love and their romance lives forever. Ant that’s how I write my stories.
    I can always enter that world again and continue the love story of my heroines and heros.
    However, to each their own ‘romance’.

  5. Marcia Colette said,

    Very true, Teresa and Beth. Once the story is over for that couple, it becomes an urban fantasy. Nothing against them, as I have one on submission. 😉 But one thing I like about JR Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Nalini Singh are their glimpses into the loving couples. That seems to be the thing to do these days and I love it! I can recall a time when I had read a series and never heard from the loving couple again.

    Very true, Michele. I like the new love and I want my readers to experience it. While my characters from both my urban fantasies and paranormal romances are in a sense connected, I like keeping them straight with regards to which stories are going to have that “new love” and which where it isn’t the focus. That’s the main reason why my paranormal romances are in third POV and my urban fantasies are in first.

    Excellent point, Savanna. I don’t think true love ever ends and that’s one thing I like to stress with my half-werewolf book. While the married couple has their issues, when they make up, they’re one mind, body, and soul again. That’s what I want my readers to experience. That “renewing” of love. Of course, that book, Half Breed, is an urban fantasy. 😉

  6. Deborah Cooke said,

    I think the structure of having each book in a linked series be a romance in itself, with the heroes and heroines from previous books appear in cameos, is pretty well established in historical romance. The previous couples step in and out, which keeps the reader updated on their doings (or the progress of their HEA) but they have to remain in the wings (or in the background) to let the romance of the current book have centre stage.

    Often if there is an issue in the secondary romance, it echoes the conflict in the main romance (as a good subplot should) and that’s fun to write, but tougher to pull off. Conflict is interesting, so that kind of thing can detract or distract from the main story if not managed carefully.

    What characterized urban fantasy was the continuing character, with ongoing romantic involvements, which is more common in the mystery and suspense genres. If the book is going to be packaged as a romance, the arc of the book has to be the arc of the romance. Then readers know what to expect!

    Deborah

  7. Cathy said,

    I have a vamp series, 6 books. The first couple was reintroduced in the 4th book and ended with her not sure of their love. I put the other 2 books to the side instead for finishing them. Very disappointing. Don’t know if I’ll buy her books again. So I think soap opera is not for me. I like glimpses at past characters later, they are always interesting, but good or bad the new characters are the focus and their romance.

  8. Marcia Colette said,

    Deborah, I totally agree with you. You HAVE to make sure the readers know what to expect or the book will blow up in the author’s face. I’ve seen this happen, although I knew the author well enough to know that her next book was something completely different from her normal romance genre. Still, romance readers were pissed that there wasn’t a commitment at the end. I thought she made it clear enough, that her next book wasn’t a romance, but I could be wrong.

    Cathy, one thing I love about new characters is they always bring something new to the plate. Not rehash the same ol’ same ol’ for four books and still have not have the romance resolved by book five. That’s a guaranteed failure for me and a great reason to leave that author behind for someone new.

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