I like a large cast of characters in novels . . . most of the time.

highlandershope2_850 2 (2)I introduced a very large cast in the Castle Brides Series. The third book, The Earl’s Enticement just released, and I’ve begun a new six book series, a direct spin-off from the first. I’m using some of the characters introduced in the very first book, Highlander’s Hope and other’s I’ve introduced along the way.

As it stands today, I have at least fifteen full-length novels and novellas planned which include all these people. It can be a challenge to keep them straight and to keep the details about each person straight too. So, how can a reader possibly keep from getting confused?

Well, the truth is, sometimes they do.

I read a book a couple of months ago, and there was so much information from previous books, the reading dragged out. Honestly, I didn’t care about all those other people or all that other stuff. On the other hand, I’ve read fabulous series where I cheered when a character from a prior book showed up again. I know I’ve had readers tell me they hope to see some of my formerly introduced characters again, and, yes, I’ve had readers complain about my large cast of characters.

The trick is to make sure each book is a stand-alone and to concentrate more page time on people who will be appearing in subsequent books in the order they are featured. I’ll briefly mention someone who’ll get their own book, say three or four books TheViscountsVow3_850from now, and with each successive book, they get just a bit more exposure. The Earl’s Enticement features Adaira Ferguson and Roark, the Earl of Clarendon.  They were first introduced in Highlander’s Hope. No mention was made of them in The Viscount’s Vow.  Now that they have their own book, my other secondary characters are demanding I write their stories, which I am doing just as fast as I’m able. I’m well into the Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series with one book done and another nearly there. I’m almost finished with one novella, and have another planned for this summer.

Still, my heroes and heroines nag me. My characters are not patient people!

How do you feel about large casts of characters? Which series have you enjoyed seeing secondary characters getting their chance at happily-ever-after?


The Earl’s Enticement

A fiery, unconventional Scot, Adaira Ferguson, wears breeches, swears, and has no more desire to marry than she does to follow society’s dictates of appropriate behavior. She trusts no man with the secret she desperately protects.

Haunted by his past, Roark, The Earl of Clarendon, rigidly adheres to propriety, holding himself and those around him to the highest standards, no matter the cost. Betrayed once, he’s guarded and leery of all women.

Mistaking Roark for a known spy, Adaira imprisons him. Infuriated, he vows vengeance. Realizing her error, she’s appalled and releases him, but he’s not satisfied with his freedom. Roark is determined to transform Adaira from an ill-mannered hoyden to a lady of refinement.

He succeeds only to discover, he preferred the free-spirited Scottish lass who first captured his heart.

TheEarlsEnticement3_850 3rd


Well, Adaira had her wish. She’d cooled off, quite nicely at that.

Panting and clutching the shaking puppy in her arms, she sloshed the last few feet to shore. Her soaked gown impeded her trudging progress. She stopped just short of the beach. Many of the pins were gone from her hair. It flopped onto one shoulder. What wasn’t pasted across her face, that is.

Thank God she was an experienced swimmer, and the boats had been less than seventy feet offshore. The weight of her wet gown and under garments had been far greater than she’d expected. With the pup clutched to one shoulder, she’d fought to kick her legs and swim forward with her free arm. Twice, she’d turned onto her back to catch her breath.

Brushing a hand across her breastbone, her breath caught. Her necklace. Where was it? She grasped her neck. Finding the chain, she tugged the cross loose from her tangled hair. Her breath left her in a whoosh.

Peeking between the streaming tresses plastered to her face, she saw her parents bolting along the path. Naturally, the rest of the party charged along in their wake, no doubt buzzing conjecture. The ton’s denizens were worse than vultures on carrion. She’d given the gossips enough fodder to fuel their fires all winter, bother it all.

Adaira pursed her lips to still her chattering teeth and in belated compunction. So much for not making a spectacle of herself. Sucking in a ragged breath, she glanced down and froze. The dress clung to her like a second skin. Her nipples, pebble hard, protruded through the thin material.

Tucking the shivering puppy under one arm, she plucked at the filmy fabric. Drat. Sodden, the cloth immediately hugged her once more.

Oh, she’d done it up brown this time. She might as well be naked. Never mind the peeresses in London often dampened their gowns to make them cling to their curves. If it weren’t for her stays and chemise, there’d be no need for anyone to imagine what lay beneath her gown. She shuddered. The count was most probably staring at her bum this very minute.



Today’s trivia question is, where does Roark, the Earl of Clarendon find himself after being knocked unconscious? Click here to find out,  and then go to the trivia game at the top to answer.

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USA Today Bestselling Author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them. Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time. Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You'll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.

14 Responses

  1. Barbara Monajem

    I too read a book recently where the cast of characters from other books in the series was too huge and not at all interesting to me, since I hadn’t read any of the others in the series. The central romance was very good, but the huge cast of other characters spoiled the story for me. However, people who had read the whole series probably loved seeing their favorite characters again.

    I have enjoyed seeing the happy ever afters of all the Malloren characters in Jo Beverley’s books. 🙂

    • Collette Cameron

      That’s exactly what I mean, Barbara. I think we as authors sometimes forget our readers don’t have all the knowledge about our characters we have stored in our brains!

  2. Sandra Owens

    Yes, Barbara, the Mallorens! Loved that series.

    You’re right, Collette, it’s kind of a fine line if you have a series with a cast of characters to not bore a new reader starting in the middle of the series, yet satisfy those who’ve been reading since the beginning with updates.

  3. JoannaM

    I don’t mind a large cast. Sometimes it makes me feel I’m watching a well produced TV show. As long as characters have a place and they all make sense in the story I do enjoy them.
    Shifters Unbound by Jennifer Ashley is a series with lots of characters, not Historical but PNR , but I do love how most of them have ended up with their HEA. Thanks for the excerpt 🙂

  4. Maggi Andersen

    Yes, it depends on how it’s done. I prefer each book in a series to be stand alone, or not be lumbered with a lot of back story in the early chapters, because I don’t always read them in sequence. I introduced a large cast of characters to the second book in my spy series, but then concentrated on the two main characters. Some of my secondary characters are calling for their own stories though.

    • Collette Cameron

      I don’t always read in sequence either, Maggie, and in the case of the Castle Bride Series, I didn’t write them in sequence either.

  5. allybroadfield

    As I reader, I enjoy finding out about characters I’ve read in previous books in the series, but I agree that it is a challenge to make them accessible to new readers without a backstory dump. This is a thought-provoking post, Collette.

  6. hollybushbooks

    I love to find characters from previous books in the next book but, you’re right, if I’m reading a book as a stand-alone and I don’t understand what is going on it’s very frustrating. I feel like there are all kinds of inside jokes that I’d missed. But when an author does it well, it is the greatest! BTW – your covers are absolutely gorgeous!

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