To Sequel or Not to Sequel

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I know plenty of readers, myself included, that love sequels. Some of my all-time favorite books are Mary Balogh’s Slighty series in which she devotes a stand-alone to each sibling in the Bedwyn family. I’ve reread them so many times I know the dialogue! There are a few other real classic series out there like Galbadon’s Outlander, Quinn’s Bridgerton’s, and Lauren’s Cynster novels. There are some authors here at Embracing Romance writing terrific romance series that are destined to be readers’ new favorites.

Every time I release a book, I hear from a reader of two wondering if I’m writing a sequel Train Station Bride 200 x 300for a secondary character or if the book is the beginning of a series. I’ve always thanked the reader for taking the time to contact me, and told them I haven’t any plans for a sequel. With my romance, Train Station Bride, however, I’ve had LOTS and LOTS of requests for a sequel. The main character in Train Station Bride is Julia Crawford, who travels west to marry an aging shopkeeper, hoping to escape a lifetime of ridicule as the plump, silly daughter of a wealthy Boston family. And while the secondary characters and family are critical to Julia’s story, I never felt compelled by any of them to continue the story line.

That has changed. I’ve done it. I’ve started to write the sequel to Train Station Bride, because, frankly, Julia’s sister Jolene got in my head and won’t leave. She’s the oldest and not so pleasant sister, and is a challenge to write. Jolene will have her own arranged marriage story when she travels to Texas to marry Maximilian Shelby, a wealthy widower with one child. Here’s a little taste of Train Station Bride as Julia arrives at her new hometown.

The train began to slow down, and Julia could see from the window a huge crowd of people milling about. Banners were hung, and she thought she could hear the blare of an Oompah band. It looked as though the train tracks ran right through the middle of a town that sprawled out in all directions and was larger than she had expected. Her mouth was dry and her nerves shakier with each slowing chug of the train and each passing street sign. Finally the locomotive stopped with a loud steamed belch, and other passengers stood up in the aisle. Julia rose, took a deep breath and wondered what had ever prompted her to reply to Mr. Snelling’s ad.

Julia stood on the step of the train and looked at the vast crowd of people. Her departure from her lifetime home was the least of her problems at this moment. How would she ever find Mr. Snelling in this crush?

The conductor shouted in her ear that her trunks and bags were being deposited on the boardwalk, one car down. Julia thanked him and hurried to find her things. It was difficult, working her way through the throng especially being at best shoulder height with some of the shorter men and women. She found her leather strapped trunk and her other bags and planted herself beside them, looking through the mob for a fiftyish, balding, thin man. It was impossible. She couldn’t see further than a lapel. She stood on tiptoe with no better results. Julia had to get a better view but didn’t want to leave her luggage to find a higher vantage point.

Julia stared down at her trunk. Glory hallelujah. Her trunk. She would stand on it and have a clear view of all the faces milling about. Her mother and Jolene would have a fit if they knew what she was thinking of doing. Better though to imagine their censure than find herself east bound if she couldn’t find Mr. Snelling. She had no doubt her father would be sending someone to escort her home. Julia had to be married when that day arrived.

* * * *

Jake inched his way through the crowd, Pastor Phillips in tow. He had forgotten completely about the Founder’s Day Celebration. Town was packed with every farmer, rancher and their families for miles around. He wondered if Flossie was keeping her family home because of his new bride coming to town. If so, Danny and Millie would have a thing or two to say to their Uncle Jake about missing the biggest party of the year. He didn’t need to crane his neck much to look for his bride-to-be. He towered over most of the crowd. And he figured Miss Crawper would be easy to spot. A woman near six foot tall. He guessed she’d be blonde. Hadn’t he read somewhere that most folks from those Norwegian countries were blonde? Jake straightened when he saw upswept blonde hair under a yellow hat. He grabbed the Pastor’s arm and yanked him through the crowd. 

Follow Victoria Vane:

Romance Novelist

VICTORIA VANE is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance with works ranging from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her books have received more than twenty awards and nominations to include the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series. She lives the beautiful upstate of South Carolina with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse.

18 Responses

  1. Glenda

    I love the sequels that give secondary characters their HEA! Wonderful excerpt! I want to read his reaction when he realizes Julia isnt 6ft tall. 😀

    • hollybushbooks

      The scene when Jake realizes that his mail order bride is not 6 foot tall is the next scene, and without a doubt, the most commented on in any of my books. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Harliqueen

    It’s great when characters are just so awesome they need a book of their own, those are the best characters 🙂

    • hollybushbooks

      It is awesome, Harliqueen! That’s why I think I’ve ended up telling Jolene’s story next – she’s not the nice sister but, boy, does she have a story and she’s going to get her HEA.

  3. ginaconkle2013

    Hi Holly,
    Lovely post. Slightly Dangerous is one of my all time favorites with a permanent spot on my keeper shelf. Isn’t it interesting how you wrote ‘Train Station Bride’ as a stand alone but the other characters are calling to you. I’m glad you’re telling Jolene’s story (even if she’s a tougher character to make the reader fall in love with). I’m sure you’ll mine her personality and find depth about her that’ll make readers want to read her story. On the whole series vs. stand alone, I’m finding I’m better off if I spend time with the characters and their world first and then write the stories vs. write the story and then create the world and the series. Things I learn as I go along. Take care and happy writing!

    • hollybushbooks

      Sadly, and also a little embarrassing, I know Slightly Dangerous almost by heart.Slightly Married is on my DIK list too.

      I really had no intention of writing the sequel but I kept picturing Jolene at a grave side, some years after the end of Train Station Bride. She was a pivotal person in TSB, but not in a good way. But still there is something about her that makes me think there are more layers there than meets the eye. We’ll see how her story plays out.

  4. Sandra Owens

    I’m a big fan of sequels, Holly. There’s almost always a character in a book that catches my interest and I want to know their story. Really enjoyed your post.

  5. Violetta Rand

    I’m a lover and writer of sequels. My favorite scenario is when main characters are brought back. Great excerpt.

  6. B.J. Scott

    I have mixed feelings about reading and writing a sequel. Some books leave you longing to know what happened to the secondary characters, hoping for the saga to continue, while others have such a powerful primary cast and resolve any issues in one swoop. Having written a sequel, I question if I would do another. The main reason being that when you write a sequel to a book set in a specific time period, perhaps during a historical battle or war, and following brothers or family of the main characters in the first story, it is hard to make the books that follow the first different enough to satisfy all readers. There are bound to be many similarities. I found with my series there were people who loved it and begged for more, even after it was done. Yet I have had a few who say the books are too similar. How to continue a story, especially a family saga where another leaves off and not have the sequel too similar is a dilemma I am sure all authors of series have faced. The other thing I struggle with is how many is enough? In my opinion the number is 3 but other may beg to differ. I guess it depends on the book and the topic.

    • hollybushbooks

      I haven’t faced the dilemmas you’re talking about like making the sequel too similar to the original book. Yet. I’m sure I’ll be asking myself the same kinds of questions as I write more of Jolene’s story. There’s no doubt that sequels won’t be enough of a new story for some, yet not enough of the original for others.

      As far as the number goes, hmmm, never really thought about it. What does everyone else think? What’s the optimum number in a series?

  7. carolcork

    I love series because there are always secondary characters whose story I want to read. It loved Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series and Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series keeps me coming back for more.