Friday, February 02, 2024


 By Caroline Clemmons

How much of the two main characters’ history should an author reveal at the beginning of the book?  This problem worries every author. Should we use flashbacks? I hate those, but I admit I sometimes use them. Should we write a prologue? What about alternating current chapters with background chapters?

Most readers have a preference. Perhaps you don’t have a favorite. If the author’s writing is compelling enough, I don’t mind any devices.

Except one. I have recently been reading a lovely series with a librarian heroine and interesting recurring characters. Suddenly, at the very end of book three, the hero broke up with the heroine. What? Wait, that can’t happen! I felt cheated. I was cheated.

What? I was cheated!

I’m pretty sure they get back together in the next book in the series, but I feel betrayed by that author. I’m still deciding whether to buy her next book.

In literary fiction, that sort of thing happens. Not in romance and romance combined with cozy mysteries. The author didn’t follow the genre guidelines: happily ever after. She had built these two people into a believable perfect couple. The hero had all the qualities of a great hero. For him to doubt the heroine’s affections enough to break up with her was not credible.

On a similar subject, I don’t like romances with a heroine who can’t decide between two men. For a couple of books, I’ll tolerate it perhaps, but not longer. This is more common in cozy mystery romances than just romance. There are series I abandoned because the heroine couldn’t make up her mind which man she loved most. If they’ve had sex and she waffles back and forth between them, she’s not a heroine, in my opinion.

I’m not referring to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle such as the common example: If he’s a fireman, she’s a pyromaniac. Extreme, but you understand why it’s used in romance workshops. Maybe they can’t resolve the obstacle until the last chapter. That’s good tension, right?

What are some pet peeves you see in books? Tell me in a comment to be entered into a drawing for an ebook. 

If you’re looking for a book that guarantees romance with a happy ending, please try one of mine.

My Amazon Author Page

Keep reading and stay safe!

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