Why I Dislike Novel Series – Guest Post by Andrea Downing, Author of Dances of the Heart

25 Feb

Dances of the Heart, a contemporary women's fiction romance by Andrea DowningI have no idea when the concept of writing several books around the same set of characters first came into being, pretty much replacing the family saga or the juicy mega-novel à la James Michener.   I’m fairly sure it must have been some ‘suit’ in the back room of one of the big New York publishers who thought of this as an ingenious way to garner more money from the unsuspecting reader. Or perhaps it was a reader who made the suggestion pointing out his limited attention span? I personally came across this innovation when I wanted to read the work of an award-winning author and discovered that his romantic opus on the west was to cover seven volumes; I bought the first one out of curiosity and stopped.  Maybe series are good in that, if you can’t stand the writing, you don’t have to go on?

At the moment I’m judging a competition and, out of five books I’ve been given, four are in series.  This is a very telling experience because, of those four, only one is the first book in its series.  So here comes problem Number One with the others:  does the book stand alone?  IMHO, it should.  A reader should be able to pick up a book she thinks may be interesting to read and get the full story, not have constant referrals back to characters and/or situations she doesn’t know.  If she wants to go back because she’s enjoyed the book, that’s one thing, but to force her to go back because the book doesn’t make sense is quite another.  The ‘who the hell is this person?’ situation just doesn’t sit well with me; neither does the ‘when did they attend THAT party?’

Then, of course, there’s the start of the second couple’s relationship when the series is built around several different people.  I don’t mind the introduction of these characters–of course not.   But to suddenly be switched into their POV and have them canoodling, before we’re switched back into the current story, takes me right out of the book with a resounding, WHAT?  Not only that, it leaves certain situations unresolved; you get the HEA but as a bonus, you get other factors leaving you wondering.

I have read series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed; Julie Garwood’s Claybornes’ Brides/Rosehill series comes to mind.  And I was brought up on Little House on the Prairie, and Nancy Drew, the Bobbsy Twins, and so on.  But each of their books could be read independently and still give enjoyment.  Some authors may be fearful of the repetition needed to re-identify characters and situations and, perhaps, the fervent follower of a series will get annoyed with so much duplication.  But my own gut feeling is that the individual reader who likes the sound of, say, book two, should be able to enjoy that book without feeling left out or forced into a possibly unwanted purchase.

Now, before all the series writers start calling for my blood, let me also say I envy series writers.  Authors have a right to earn from their craft, and if writing a series brings you more readers, well done.  And if you can keep up the momentum of writing about the same characters in several books without it feeling like the story is dragging on, go for it.  All I’m saying here is that each book should be enjoyable in its own right and, sadly, that isn’t always the case.  I’d love to be able to tell the full story of all the characters in my first book, Loveland, and even my latest, Dances of the Heart, could have a Book Two.  But if I go that route, you can be certain I’ll make sure it can stand on its own.

Dances of the Heart

Blurb:  Successful, workaholic author Carrie Bennett lives through her writing, but can’t succeed at writing a man into her life. Furthermore, her equally successful but cynical daughter, Paige, proves inconsolable after the death of her fiancé.

Hard-drinking rancher Ray Ryder can find humor in just about anything—except the loss of his oldest son. His younger son, Jake, recently returned from Iraq, now keeps a secret that could shatter his deceased brother’s good name.

On one sultry night in Texas, relationships blossom when the four meet, starting a series of events that move from the dancehalls of Hill Country to the beach parties of East Hampton, and from the penthouses of New York to the backstreets of a Mexican border town. But the hurts of the past are hard to leave behind, especially when old adversaries threaten the fragile ties that bind family to family…and lover to lover.

Excerpt: Ray pointed to his pickup, smirking slightly with the knowledge of what her reaction would probably be.

“You must be joking.”

He could hardly hear the mumbled comment, but it was exactly what he’d been expecting.

She glowered, a brow definitively arched in query.  “What year is this thing?”

He attempted to wipe the amusement away from his face with a hand that rubbed his stubble in a satisfying scrape. “Sorry, I left the Cadillac at home this time.” A raised brow questioned if she took him seriously. “It’s an ’89, and still runs as smooth as the day I got it.”

“Which was, what? Last year?”

Ray shook his head and proceeded to the passenger door. “You have the key, sweetheart,” he said, patiently standing and waiting.

“Listen!” Carrie put her hands out as if to stop any further conversation. “First off, I am not your sweetheart. And second, if by any chance you think you just may have gotten lucky tonight–”

“Whoa, whoa now.” Ray was truly mystified at the turn events were taking. “Not that I wouldn’t be honored and damn well pleased, but I sure as heck wasn’t thinkin’ along those lines…and truth be told, you know, I’m hardly up to it.” He considered this for a second, a fog clearing for a moment’s view of the road. “And I don’t mean I need Viagra either.” He noted her staring at the key as if it might turn into something else. “No, it doesn’t open automatically,” he informed her at last.

She shoved the key into the handle and got the door open, climbed up into the cab and reached across to unlock the door for him. Her gaze ran over the dashboard, uncertainty scrunching her face like a bitter fruit.

Ray folded himself into the passenger seat and slouched back, tipping his hat over his eyes. “Just let me know when you give up. I’ll be right here, darl…” Yeah, better not. He could almost feel her indignation, listening as she squirmed around and adjusted the seat.

“It’ll be a cold day in hell, mister, before I give up!” The key turned and the truck sputtered to life, then died again.

“You ever drive manual before?” he mumbled from under his Stetson, and sensed Carrie eyeing him. “That’s what I thought,” he answered to her lack of response. “Put your foot on the clutch, move her into first, release the brake, and get goin’, slowly releasing the clutch.”

“Who the hell drives stick shift anymore?” she muttered as she followed his terse instructions. The truck lurched forward as she spun it off the grass toward the road.

“Right,” Ray directed, feeling suddenly nauseous with the pitch of the car. Bile rising, he opened the door and spat before yanking it shut again. “Can you get the damn thing into second? Foot on the clutch, move the shift and let’s go if we’re going.”

“Fine! You don’t have to yell at me.”

Ray sat up, shoved his hat back from his eyes and glared at her, reining in his frustration and anger. “I was not yelling at you, but you know dang well we’d be far safer with me drivin’. As it is, I’m gonna need a new transmission.”

The truck staggered again. “I know no such thing.” She bent forward to swipe at the windscreen to clear it. “We haven’t got seatbelts on,” she murmured.

“We’re not going fast enough to need them.”

Carrie ignored his last remark and appeared to concentrate on keeping the truck moving. It sputtered again, and Ray let out a sigh of resignation just as flashing blue lights appeared in the side mirror. She pulled over, and the motor unceremoniously died.

“Damn!” she cursed, reaching down for her bag at Ray’s feet. “Let me get my license.”

You Can Buy Dances of the Heart at: 

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press | Barnes and Noble

Andrea Downing, author of Dances of the Heart, a contemporary women's fiction romanceBio: Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born, instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, her first contemporary novel, came out in February, 2015.

You can find Andrea at:

Website and Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |
Linkedin | Amazon Author Page


Sneak Peek Sunday–This time around his feelings are anything but innocent–From KISSING KATIE

1 Feb

Sneak Peek SundayWelcome to Sneak Peek Sunday.  Today I’m sharing a snippet from my recent release Kissing Katie, book 1 in my His Girl Next Door series.


Sometimes love is just around the corner.

Seeking peace while he decides between prestigious job offers, burned-out lawyer Matt Powell rents his boyhood vacation home at the Jersey shore on a nostalgic whim. However, discovering the lovely widow next door is his childhood best friend, Katie Vanburen, complicates everything. His old love for her hits hard, but this time around his feelings are anything but innocent. It’s decision time: the high-profile career he’s earned–or a life he never dreamed possible loving his girl next door.

Twenty years ago, Matt broke Katie’s teenaged heart when he vanished from her life after his parents’ divorce. She grew up, buried her childish dreams, and moved on. New dreams shattered with her unfaithful husband’s death, but now she’s a successful website designer and owns her beloved shore house. She’s delighted to renew their friendship, but unready to trust her heart again–even if Matt’s kisses tempt her beyond reason. But can her cracking defenses hold when Matt argues his case for love so eloquently, in bed and out?

Set up: Matt has just arrived back in Lavallette for the first time in twenty years, not knowing Katie still lives next door. She recognizes him first and runs to greet him. . .


Katie, all grown up. Still his Katie, but holy shit, had she grown up nice.

Still reeling from surprise, Matt kicked himself for not instantly knowing Katie by her happy run and shout of his name. He’d been lost in thoughts of the past, and before he could focus on the now, she’d plastered herself around him in that enthusiastic hug. Her soft curves had hit him in all the right places and intellect had been momentarily derailed by an out-of-the-blue punch of pure lust.

Lust. For Katie? For his once upon a time best friend forever? He blinked.

Katie. Same sun-streaked toffee brown hair. Same pretty, bright blue eyes, but no longer hidden behind thick glasses. Same cheerful, dimpled smile, but she’d undergone the same torture of braces as he had. No longer a gawky, reed-slender slip of a girl, she’d filled out real nice—

Heated guilt rushed over him at how part of him was busily considering how nicely her breasts would fill his hands.

He shook his head. Katie, with breasts.
Kissing Katie - His Girl Next Door - Book 1, by Babette James, Contemporary Romance

Come fall in love at the shore

Buy at:

iBooks | Kindle |  Kobo  | Barnes & Noble Nook

Amazon Print | Createspace Print

Convincing Cami Release Day!

13 Jan

Convincing Cami, His Girl Next Door #2, a contemporary romance by Babette JamesConvincing Cami

His Girl Next Door Series – Book 2

Convincing Cami and the His Girl Next Door series were both inspired by many summers spent at the shore in Lavallette, New Jersey. The first book in my series, Kissing Katie, is set in the summer at Lavallette, a quieter, more family-oriented small town just north of the busier and more famous Seaside Heights.

In Convincing Cami, I move on to autumn and up along the coast to Point Pleasant Beach, a town I loved living in and visiting. Life in a shore town has a different pace in the off-season. The heavy crowds and traffic are gone. The boardwalk and beach are still there to visit, but the vacation mindset inspired by summer sun is over and work and weather keep you home more and focused on family life. As the temperature dips through autumn toward winter, curling up indoors with a warm and loving significant other after a long day at work is much more tempting than a chilly stroll on the beach.

I’ve had a wonderful time exploring some fun and sentimental memories while writing these romances. I hope you enjoy them too!


Sometimes love is just around the corner.

When Cami Alexander moves next door, it’s time for Jack O’Malley to concede the sweet and sexy fellow teacher is more than a long-time friend—she’s the one he’s been looking for in all the wrong places. He’s ready to put his footloose bachelor days behind him, but between his past, Cami’s doubts, her overprotective family, and well-meaning blind date offers from friends, convincing Cami they’re meant to be together is going to get complicated. Good thing Jack likes a challenge.

Cami’s always had a little crush on the dashing, blue-eyed Jack, but when the heat in a spontaneous kiss surprises them both, she’s afraid to risk their friendship over mere desire. Passion proves irresistible, and one explosive night ups the ante on their dilemmas. Jack vows his love and to stand by her through every trouble, but she’s been burned by promises before, and this time more than her heart’s at stake.


The old wooden ladder creaked and rocked with loose joints as Cami climbed. The thing must be as old as the house. She stretched, screwing in the first bulb. The step under her feet creaked, cracked—

And gave way. She shrieked, dropping the light bulb, but grabbed only air. Oh, this was going to hurt—

“Cami!” Jack shouted. Strong arms clamped around her. “I got you.”

Shaken from the close call, she melted into him. “Thanks. That was too close.”

“I knew I should’ve brought my ladders over. You okay?”

“Yes. Just a scare.”

He let her slide to the floor, but held her snug against his body. He would release her, any second now. She should step away. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his waist. She shivered, this time less from the scare and more from realizing just how close he held her. How he’d never actually touched her before beyond a social hug or handshake.

Her quiet little crush speared into a hot rush of want. How warm and sturdy he was. How perfectly they fit together.

She caught her breath and looked up to find Jack studying her with a puzzled, serious expression that she’d never seen on his face before. The twilight added a deceptive privacy to the dim room and made Jack’s eyes appear dark and deep with—


“This is a really bad idea,” Jack muttered. Tightening his arms, he crushed his mouth down on hers.

She gasped, and he seized full advantage of her mouth opening under his in the hungry, demanding kiss.

Oh, Jack was right, this was a really bad idea, but the surprising kiss was far too amazing to rally any effort to break away. With the curiosity of six years pressing her, Cami recklessly surrendered to the pleasure, not caring he had a girlfriend, not caring they’d just careened over the friendship line . . . and his warm body was hard against hers.

What a kiss! Far from a perfect kiss—too hot and rushed—but wonderful, wonderful, fierce, and toe-curling.

Curiosity killed the cat, remember.

Well, she wasn’t a cat, and this was just a kiss.


Come fall in love at the shore

Buy Convincing Cami at:

Amazon Kindle Download on the iBookstore Get It On Google Play kobo B & N Nook


Missed Kissing Katie, Book 1 in the Series? Buy Now at:

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Createspace Print

Book Spotlight: Destiny Calling by Maureen L. Bonatch

22 Dec

Destiny Calling, a paranormal romance  by Maureen L. BonatchDestiny Calling
The Enchantlings Volume 1
by Maureen L. Bonatch

A Paranormal Romance from The Wild Rose Press
Available on December 22, 2014

Hope doesn’t know if the man she can touch is a dream come true, or a nightmare just beginning.

Hope only wants to find out if her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with her touch makes her the devil’s spawn, or his exterminator. But when the woman who raised her is murdered by something not human, she loses the only family she knew and discovers one she might wish she hadn’t.

Drawn back to the hometown she vowed never to return to, her ability is seen as an asset to everyone but Hope, and she doesn’t know who to trust. Her family wants her to help them overcome an enemy oppressing the human population, while the man of her dreams is courting her for the Underworld.

Time is running out, and Hope’s choice may be made for her, as she discovers she’s a pawn in a bigger game played by a merciless ruler who doesn’t lose.


I strained to release my arm from Griffith’s vise-like grip while scanning the surrounding trees, trying to determine which was less of a threat, the beast of a man holding me or those who might be waiting for me in the woods.

“You will come inside, now.” Griffith spoke slowly and deliberately as if I were a small child.

I batted at the hand Griffith placed on my head. “I’m not a puppy, quit petting me.”

“I will protect you.” Griffith’s warm breath caressed my ear. “If for no other reason, to find out what I’m giving up and why she wants you so badly.”

I inhaled his masculine scent, like musky earth. It washed over my face, and the tension in my jaw released. I stopped struggling. “Are you the devil?” My tongue was thick and heavy so the words came out slurred.

“Not even close.” His words soothed and comforted, like having a weighted blanket cocoon me. Each movement was an effort. It wasn’t the same as the thing in the woods. This was more like the feeling after a long massage or bubble bath.

“It’s not safe.” Griffith wrapped his arms around me, and I rested against his broad chest.

“It’s not safe.” I nodded. My muscles relaxed and my eyelids grew heavy.

“It’s cold. We’re going inside.” Griffith kept his arm supporting me as he steered me toward the house.

“We’re going inside.” I parroted and walked up the steps, leaning heavily on him.

Out of the corner of my eye, something was cautiously moving at the edge of the woods. Branches snapped as whatever was observing us crept closer.

Available Today at:

Amazon Kindle   Amazon Paperback  The Wild Rose Press

Maureen L. Bonatch, author of Destiny Calling, a paranormal romanceAbout the Author:

Growing up with four siblings had Maureen familiar with escaping into a good book, or the recesses of her mind. She realized later in life everyone didn’t have characters telling stories in their heads, or weren’t envisioning magic and mayhem within the everyday. This, and long walks in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania spawned a love of writing.
Since her desire to become a Solid Gold Dancer was thwarted when the show was discontinued, Maureen opted to pursue other paths. Attempting to conquer new endeavors proved fruitful with her first novella, while other attempts, such as challenging a fear of heights with parasailing, were unsuccessful.
Therefore she’s chased other interests, though none-the-less-daring, but closer to the ground, such as belly-dancing, becoming a self-proclaimed tequila connoisseur, fulfilling her role as biker babe to her alpha hubby and surviving motherhood to twins (so far).
Penning stories boasting laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

You can find Maureen at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mbonatch

Blog: http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/

Website: http://www.maureenbonatch.com

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/1AV4L

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/maureenbonatch/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maureenlbonatch

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3103486.Maureen_L_Bonatch


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