Some readers love linked books, others are not so keen on them, so for me the important thing about writing books in my own self-contained mini-series, the important thing is to make sure that each book stands on its own and tells one separate story. Then any reader who picks up one story doesn’t have to buy and read all the other books in the series to make sense of the whole story.
I was reminded of this only this week when a reader wrote to me, asking about the books in The Alcolar Family trilogy. Well, it’s a trilogy of books and an on line short story that appeared on eHarlequin and the Mills & Boon site. This reader had found the middle book of the Trilogy - The Spaniard’s Inconvenient Wife and wanted to know the titles of the other two books so that she could read them all. That was tricky, coming to it so long after the original trilogy has been published (The Alcolars came out in 2005) but at least I could help her find the short story – Wife For Real – that started it all off. That’s now published as an ebook and is also to be found on the Mills & Boon web site to read on line.
And all that reminded me that I had meant to come on here and talk about my latest pair of linked books – the ones I’ve called the Sicilian Brothers duo – the first of which Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride is out now in Presents. The second The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge will be published in June (UK) and July (USA and Australia). And I wanted to make sure that everyone knew they are linked – there’s nothing worse than reading a book and then wishing you’d got your hands on the first one.
The Sicilian Brothers duo came to me when a lovely reader and a friend I met at the RWA Conference a couple of years ago told me her brothers’ names and I said that Guido and Vito Corsentino were just perfect names for Presents heroes. Lori told me that I could ‘borrow her brothers’ names – they didn’t mind either! – and I’ve written these two books with each brother as the hero in one. The stories, as I said, are totally separate, but each book has connecting points – the first one (Guido’s story) takes place in the middle of the second one (Vito’s story). That meant that I had to know what had already happened to Vito before I even started writing Guido’s story. If you read the book then in the opening scene you’ll find that there is already a clue to what has happened – when even Guido doesn’t know what has been going on in his brother’s life.
Writing a new hero is always a fascinating process – I’ve just finished a book with a sexy Spanish hero and getting to know him took some time – even then he had one last little secret that I didn’t know until the very last scene. So working with two devastating Sicilians was even more fun. I had to make sure that they were each heroes in their own right – tall dark, handsome and stunning – and yet make them separate and totally individual. I think I succeeded. I hope you do too.And don’t forget that as the first of these books is out now, the contest Lee is running to celebrate that is still open over on the Contests page. Of course The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge will be appearing soon and as that will be a very special book for me – my 50th published title - then look out for some very special celebrations too. I’ll be working with Lee on those and we’ll have lots of prizes to give away – so watch this space.
What about you? Do you love books that link to each other and perhaps bring back characters you've met before? Or do you prefer stand-alone stories?