Keeping The Love Alive Beyond The First Book

So you've published your first book in a new series and things seem to be going well but, how do you avoid the dreaded "series second slump"? There's nothing worse than losing fans because after an explosive first book the second book in your series only fizzles. So we tracked down an author whose series second is a success. Romantic Suspense author Marie Force made a splash on the e-scene with Fatal Affair back in June and wowed fans again in January with her equally excellent Fatal Justice. Now the author shares her secrets to keeping readers in love with her series!

When Morgan asked me to write about continuing the romance of the same hero and heroine in the second book of a series, I asked her if it was okay to say that writing Fatal Justice nearly killed me. Of course I’m kidding. Well, not really… Writing Fatal Justice DID nearly kill me. For one thing, it took a full year to write, which is about four times my usual pace. It wasn’t the book’s fault, however. No, it was my fault.

You see, Fatal Affair was one of those books that almost wrote itself. Everything about writing that book was magical, and dare I say, easy? So naturally, the second book would be just as easy, right? Not so much. From the first page, Fatal Justice made me fight for almost every word. I say “almost” because the scenes involving Sam and Nick were the exception. Writing their relationship continues to be the most enjoyable part of the Fatal Series for me. I so love the way they complement each other, the way they argue and make up, and the way they love each other unconditionally. Their scenes are always such a joy to write.

So there was no real trick to transitioning my “happy for now” couple into book 2. I imagined the challenges they would face as they not only began their relationship but also assumed high-profile jobs—he is a U.S. senator and she is a homicide lieutenant—that thrust them into the limelight. All the associated pressures that accompany these major life changes find their way into Fatal Justice along with a few things like Sam’s penchant for keeping things from her significant other.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Nick mistakenly thinks Sam has been shot on the job. After he learns she is safe, he has a total meltdown when it settles in on him that she is in danger every time she steps out the door. Until then, Nick had done the lion’s share of the fighting for them. This time, Sam has to step up, and I enjoyed writing that shift in their dynamic.

When I was first contemplating this series featuring a recurring couple, I attended Nora Roberts’ chat at the RWA conference. I worked up the nerve to ask how she keeps Eve and Roarke’s relationship going strong after so many In Death books. The secret, she said, is simple: they’re young, hot, madly in love and hot for each other. Her secret, I believe, is universally applicable to any series with the same hero and heroine in every book: keep it hot, and you’ll keep it going.

Interesting postscript: the third Fatal book, Fatal Consequences (out July 18) was a lot like Fatal Affair: it more or less flew off the fingers. The fourth story, Sam and Nick’s wedding novella, "Fatal Destiny" (free to readers on Sept. 5), has been like Fatal Justice. One. Painful. Word. At. A. Time. I’m beginning to see a pattern developing here…

Until Feb. 14, Fatal readers are planning Sam and Nick’s wedding on my blog. Readers’ choices will be featured in "Fatal Destiny", and voting for rings, dresses, cake, honeymoon destination and much more is open until Feb. 14. Come by and help Sam and Nick plan their big day and maybe win a prize!

Question: What do you love best/like least about series with the same hero and heroine in every book?

- Marie Force

Want more concrete examples of how Marie Force is keeping fans excited for her series? Check out the first two Fatal books, available now!


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