Lots and lots of writing advice says that to be great, writers need to do two things: write a lot and read a lot. Why? Because writing exercises your brain and your writing “muscles.” The more you do it, the better you get at it. And reading is how you learn and see what other authors do successfully.
They also say to read a lot of different books, across all genres. I’ve been reading a lot “outside” of my genre lately. I’ve read historical romance, contemporary romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and learned a lot from each. But, the last book I read was back in my own genre: romantic suspense.
I’ve enjoyed all the genres that I’ve read, but getting back to romantic suspense was like coming home, or visiting with an old friend – comfortable, familiar, and enjoyable.
The book I just finished was Drawing Fire, by Janice Cantore, book 1 in her Cold Case Justice series. It was a great read, with a fast-paced plot that kept me guessing until the end who the “bad guy” was. The characters were also interesting, realistic, and relatable. I’m actually starting on the second book in this series (Cold Case Justice) now.
I was interested in this author because Janice is a retired police officer herself, and I knew that would add authenticity to her stories. So much of what we see on television and read about in books is highly inaccurate for how an actual police department operates. I wanted to see how Janice handled the material and presented the characters.
And her main character is, of course, a female officer. This was particularly interesting to me because my main character is also a female officer. I liked how Janice characterized her heroine, Detective Abby Hart – smart, dedicated, tough, willing to do the hard stuff to get the job done, but also tender, caring, and concerned about people.
This is how I see my main character, Samantha Evans, although the two characters are also very different. But it was helpful to see how Janice wrote Abby in both her professional and personal lives.
There is another similarity that I wanted to explore in Janice’s writing. This series and her Pacific Coast Justice Series have the same hero and heroine in all three books. The suspense plots are different in each book of the series, but the “romantic” storyline runs through all three books, rather than being tied up by the end of book 1.
This is how I’ve framed my Southern Secrets series as well, with Samantha Evans and Jake Stone as the main characters in the three books and the romantic thread running through the entire series.
Many of the romantic suspense series on the market now have different main characters for each of the books within a series. This is beneficial for a number of reasons. Often, readers like a “happily ever after” with all the loose ends tied up at the end of a book. Plus, readers don’t always get to read a series in order. But there are a number of the popular series that have the same characters throughout. I think it just depends on the story the author is telling and how the plots and characters weave together.
I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the other books in this series. Now, it’s your turn. What do you think about having different characters in a series or using the same ones? Do you prefer one over the other? Is there a series with the same characters that you’ve loved? Can you think of advantages and disadvantages of each? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below to join the conversation.