By Anna Campbell
If any of you have even a passing acquaintance with romance novels, you’ll know that the series is king. Aussie romance writer Stephanie Laurens really launched the craze with her books featuring the tempestuous Cynster family, starting with Devil’s Bride in 1998. This series is still going strong with 20 bestselling novels so far.
I have a good friend currently doing a PhD on series in genre fiction and he finds romance such an anomaly when it comes to how each story links with the others. In romance fiction, most series are made up of several self-contained love stories, usually at least three, sometimes many more, with a guaranteed happy ending for that story’s principal couple at the end of each book.
How is this a series, you ask. Well, the stories usually take place in a unified world and the characters are linked in some way. Often they’re family members. Sometimes they’re linked as friends or colleagues. In my Sons of Sin series, for example, three of the four heroes are friends from Eton where scandal relating to their births made them targets for bullying.
Romance readers want a satisfying end to their love stories, so each book focuses on a particular couple and their journey to happiness. There may be an overarching issue that links all stories – something like finding a missing heiress, or whether the demons massing against our protagonists conquer the world, or who murdered Mr. X – but each story contains a complete plot arc with a happy ending.
One of the joys of series is that characters who star in other stories wander in and out. Readers love an update on how beloved characters get on after “their” book finishes. When you get involved in a series, reading each book is a bit like going to a party full of great friends you haven’t seen for a while. The party might celebrate Fred and Nora’s engagement, but you also get a chance to catch up with Murgatroyd and Wilhelmina. “How are the kids?” “Where are you living now?” “Did you end up getting that promotion?”
I sold my first book to HarperCollins back in 2006 and even then, very few standalone romance novels were being published. Having said that, my first six books were standalones (although there’s a loose link between Claiming the Courtesan, Tempt the Devil, and My Reckless Surrender). When I moved to Hachette for the Sons of Sin books, my editor was determined that I was going to write a series, although Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed had been submitted to her as another standalone story.
Sons of Sin ended up being accepted as a trilogy, except…
And this is what I want to talk about today. The trouble with series!
Sons of Sin ended up being six books: four full-length historical romances and two novellas. Not the original plan at all! When you spend so long immersed in a series, you keep coming up with great ideas that fit the landscape. You also meet characters who are screaming out to have their own stories – and readers are screaming for the stories too.
So what is a girl to do but keep writing more books in the series?
When I decided to become an independent author, I knew enough to know that writing series was the way to make a career. So I started out with a trilogy about three Regency widows who decide to put aside the sadness of their past and take society by storm.
Do you note I said trilogy? The Dashing Widows ended up being seven books, with the possibility of future spin-offs featuring the next generation. When I got to the end of the sixth book, I said, “That is quite enough.” Except there was this one character who hadn’t had a happy ending and he really deserved one, not to mention he was hero material. Voilà Lord Garson’s Bride which came out early last year.
Currently I’m working on a series about three roguish Highlanders called The Lairds Most Likely. Again, note I said three! Book 1, The Laird’s Willful Lass, came out as planned and introduced Fergus Mackinnon and his friends Diarmid Mactavish and Hamish Douglas. So far, so good, until I needed to write a Christmas story last year. Suddenly Book 2 wasn’t The Highlander’s Lost Lady, Diarmid’s story, it was The Highlander’s Christmas Kiss featuring a couple of cousins. Lost Lady came out in April as Book 3.
I’m currently finalising Book 4, The Highlander’s Defiant Captive, which I’ll be back to talk about next month. Then there’s this year’s Christmas story, The Highlander’s Christmas Quest. Poor old Hamish will have to wait for his happy ending until 2020 and Book 6, with another book and a Christmas story planned to end the series.
Saying “end the series” provokes a hollow laugh. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that series grow like Topsy! Stay tuned!
The Laird’s Willful Lass
The Lairds Most Likely Book 1
By Anna Campbell
An untamed man as immovable as a Highland mountain…
Fergus Mackinnon, autocratic Laird of Achnasheen, likes to be in charge. When he was little more than a lad, he became master of his Scottish estate, and he’s learned to rely on his own unfailing judgment. So has everyone else in his corner of the world. He sees no reason for his bride—when he finds her—to be any different.
A headstrong woman from the warm and passionate south…
Marina Luchetti knows all about fighting her way through a wall of masculine arrogance. In her native Florence, she’s become a successful artist, no easy feat for a woman. Now a commission to paint a series of Highland scenes promises to spread her fame far and wide. When a carriage accident strands her at Achnasheen for a few weeks, it’s a mixed blessing. The magnificent landscape offers everything her artistic soul could desire. If only she can resist the impulse to smash her easel across the laird’s obstinate head.
When two fiery souls come together, a conflagration flares.
Marina is Fergus’s worst nightmare—a woman who defies a man’s guidance. Fergus challenges everything Marina believes about a woman’s right to choose her path. No two people could be less suited. But when irresistible passion enters the equation, good sense soon jumps into the loch.
Will the desire between Fergus and Marina blaze hot, then fade to ashes? Or will the imperious laird and his willful lass discover that their differences aren’t insurmountable after all, but the spice that will flavour a lifetime of happiness?
*Giveaway is now closed.
*Giveaway is now closed.
Anna Campbell is giving away one Kindle download copy of her fabulous book
The Laird’s Willful Lass.
All you need to do is answer this question:
Do you have a favourite series, if so, what is it?
Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.
• Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.
• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm BST on October 8th .
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•Winners will be announced in the comments.
• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Pick up your copy of
The Laird’s Willful Lass
ANNA CAMPBELL has written 10 award-winning historical romances for Grand Central Publishing and Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in 22 languages. She has also written 23 bestselling independently published romances. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories including Romantic Times Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice) and the Australian Romance Readers Association’s favorite historical romance (five times). Anna is currently engaged in writing the Lairds Most Likely series which starts with The Laird’s Willful Lass (2018). When she’s not travelling the world seeking inspiration for her stories, she lives on the beautiful east coast of Australia.