First define your terms. I was taught that at school, and it’s good advice, since we use the same words but don’t necessarily understand the same things by them.

I love series, which I understand to be a group of books about people who are connected in some way. Each book in the group focuses on one or two of these characters, with some or all of the others appearing as secondary characters. The timelines might overlap, so that readers see the same events from different points-of-view, or each book might pick up the story later in than the previous one in the series. I prefer each book to be a stand-alone as well. That is, I want to be able to read the books out of sequence without feeling I’ve been cheated of part of the story. 

To me, serials work less well in romance, though they lend themselves to mystery or suspense. In a serial, the same one or two characters take the lead role. There’s an objective for the series as a whole, and each book also has its own goal, so that it has a satisfying conclusion but the whole story has not yet been told.

Best of all, perhaps, are those romance series that have a serial component, where we see each pair of characters reach their happy ending, and each novel takes us a step closer to the end of the overall quest.

What do you think? Series, serials, or stand-alones? Can you suggest some great series and serials we might all like to read?

First kiss from A Raging Madness

In the following excerpt, Alex mentions his cousin Rede, who was the hero of Farewell to Kindness

“That’s a marvellous idea, Ella,” Alex said. “And I would not need to beg from Rede. I have money of my own. They paid me for being a human pincushion in the stead of my Distinguished Personage. They would have preferred me to die, I think, since a posthumous medal would have been cheaper, but I pleased myself instead of them, and so they gave me a reward. I have a good sum invested, and it is growing larger thanks to my cousin’s gift for making money.”

The sound was Alex shifting and dropping to the floor. Before she was aware of his intent, he was bending over her. Perhaps he meant to kiss her cheek, but she had turned her face towards the sound of his movement, and his lips dropped on her mouth, paused, and then moulded themselves to hers.

She had been right to be afraid. One touch of his lips and she burned for more, shifting to allow him better access, opening her mouth to welcome his invading tongue. No. Not invading; no conquering assault to batter down her defences, but a long-awaited and cherished caress that set her aflame, so she moaned and locked her hands behind his head to prevent his escape, and he stretched above her on the narrow bed and placed his own hands gently either side of her face.

“Ella,” he said, into her open mouth, and crushed his lips to her again before she could speak, though what would she say? Alex? Yes? Stop?

He was aroused. Though he took most of his weight on his elbows and his knees, still the length of him poked into her belly. If she shifted, even a little, it would rub the place that burned. Only the cotton of her shift and his shirt kept them apart, and all the good reasons for not lifting both garments out of the way had melted in the heat of his kiss.

Thoughts scattered. She pushed herself up against him, her nipples so hard the cotton hurt, and it was a good hurt, like the burning he both relieved and heightened as he rubbed his male organ against her, setting her squirming and moaning.

Suddenly he moved, sliding down the bed to nudge her shift sideways down one arm, freeing one breast, and seizing on the nipple with his mouth, his teeth, his tongue.

She moaned again, helpless to keep the sound from escaping, as he used one hand to tease the other nipple, and the other to gather the hem of her shift until her woman’s place was uncovered, and his hand was doing delicious things that narrowed her world to him. To Alex, and his hands and mouth and body, and what was happening to hers.

Alex tensed suddenly and raised his head, his hands stilling. Ella suppressed a whimper, caught and subdued the involuntary movement to draw him back, surfaced from the sea of sensation, and finally heard what he had heard. Voices, speaking low. Footsteps. The soft clap of a hand on the roof of the cabin—Jonno’s nightly salute, too soft to wake them but a signal they heard more evenings than not.

Jonno and the O’Haras were back from the tavern, and the spell was broken.