Best-selling author Mary Balogh reveals her favorite series in this exclusive blog post. Her new book, A Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake, is now available.
love reading book series, whatever the genre. There is a familiarity about the
fictional world they set up, and there are common characters whom the reader
can get to know in greater depth than is possible in a single book. Whenever I
discover a new series, I hope to enjoy the first book well enough that I will
want to continue with the others, especially if some or all of them are already
published. There are, of course, two types of series: those, mainly in the
romance genre, in which there is a binding idea while each book has different
protagonists; and those in which the same protagonist(s) stars in each book. I
have many favorites of each type. These are five of them, in no particular
order of preference:
1. Debbie Macomber's Blossom
Street series. These books are set at and about a knitting shop on Blossom
Street and concern the lives and loves and trials and triumphs of the owner, a
cancer survivor, and a group of other ladies who shop at the store or join
various knitting classes there. I love the setting as I am a knitter myself. I
love too the interactions among the women, many of whom appear in more than one
book, the very real life situations they face, and the way they support one
another through the bonds of female friendship. They are gentle, feel-good
books without being fluff.
2. Grace Burrowes's Windham series. These are standalone
romances, the Regency-era love stories of eight siblings, three brothers and
five sisters. I enjoy them even as individual books. But what I find special
about them as a series is the complexity of character, which has time and scope
to develop in the course of eight books. I am intrigued too by the fact that
two of the siblings are the illegitimate offspring of the father, the Duke of
Moreland, though they have been brought up with the legitimate sons and
daughters. And there are two novellas for the duke and duchess, one their own
love story, the other the story of how the illegitimate son and daughter (of
different mothers) were taken as children into the larger family.
Cornwell's Richard Sharpe series.
These are twenty-four books about the exploits of Richard Sharpe during the
Napoleonic Wars, starting when he was an infantry private in the British armies
in India and ending when he was a lieutenant-colonel and aide to the Duke of
Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, though actually the last book takes place
several years later than that. The books are graphic and brutal and brilliant
and impossible to put down, and Sharpe is the sort of super-hero who can get
himself out of impossible trouble and perform exploits of incredible heroism
several times in each book. What makes the series particularly appealing to me
is that they cover the same time period that I use in my own Regency-era love
stories. A number of my heroes have fought in the wars.
Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.
Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter, who is quite inept at her job and yet always
somehow gets her man. The secondary characters, including two hunky men who
both figure as her love interest, her wacky co-workers, and her irrepressible
grandmother, appear in every book and are priceless creations. The main appeal
of the series for me is its non-stop action and constant, laugh-aloud humor.
And I particularly like the fact that Stephanie and the other characters never
age. We always find them the same as ever from one book to the next.
5. M. C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series. Hamish Macbeth
is a policeman without any ambition of rising in the ranks. He likes his little
village in the Scottish Highlands, where he knows everyone and everyone knows
him. Although other people constantly make the mistake of thinking him lazy and
even none too intelligent, he has a knack for solving murder mysteries that
have baffled all the experts, and the experts are never too happy with him as a
result! I love this kindly, likable, laid-back character and his
fellow-villagers. There is gentle humor in the books as well as genuine mystery
and suspense, and the Highlands setting is almost a character in its own right.