What's the Deal with the Cliffhanger?

You want to know a secret? Even if if makes you a little mad at me? All right, I'll tell you:

I wrote the cliffhanger on purpose. I write cliffhangers because I actually like them.

*blocks face with hands*

I know, I know. It's frustrating to becoming really invested in what's happening to a story or characters and then have a major bomb dropped on you at the end of the story. But let's be real, too: the way the story ended before the major "bomb" in Legally Yours wasn't exactly a "happy-ever-after", was it? I mean, that's definitely not how you'd want that story to end. It's not how I want the story to end.

But you know what else I dislike? I dislike becoming that invested in characters only to have their story end forever after only 200-300 pages. Or, in the case of Legally Yours, 500. Romance novels are  quick and easy to read. They're like candy, the kind you sneak late at night. You stay up until three AM, reading in the dark on your phone or your Kindle, paging through because you just. have. to. know: what happens next? So if it takes me less than a few days to get through it...yeah. I'm going to want more than just that.

My favorite books of ALL genres are the ones that are let me luxuriate with the characters for at least a week, maybe two. Maybe even months. I like my romances long, and I like them to continue long enough to really see my favorite characters grow. The fact that a book is part of a legitimate series, even if it's  not done yet, is a selling point for me, not a deterrent. Serials that cycle through the various "stories" of different character in the original book don't count.

Jodi Ellen Malpas does a great job of this in the This Man series and the One Night series. I haven't read The Protector yet, but I'm sure I'll love it too. I adore Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series as much for the detail and escape factors as for the fact that I get almost ten-thousand pages and counting of Jamie and Claire's story together.

Other writers who do this well: K.A. Linde, Heather C. Leigh, Nicole Williams, Laurelin Paige, S.C. Stephens, Rebecca Donovan, and, of course, E.L. James (I have some issues with FSOG, but that's for another post. I can't deny that I have read it several times). There are others I can think of, but these are the writers whose work is at the top of my list.

So when I asked myself what kind of stories I wanted to write, it became pretty clear when I started sketching out my first project that it was going to take multiple books to get through it. I get that it's annoying to be left hanging, but for me, the series are the books I reread. They are the stories I come back to, like old friends. There's enough in them that I can rediscover elements of the characters I'd forgotten about, enough complications that I won't immediately recall everything when I pick up the book again. I've read all of the authors listed above multiple times, and I can't always say that about all of the other romance writers I enjoy.

So here's the bright side: the next book is definitely coming out, and you'll get your fix soon enough. Legally Yours will be a trilogy; I've had that planned out for over a year. The second book is well on its way to being finished, and the third has already been started. I'd like to have the series completed by the end of the summer (although that might be a bit optimistic, so we'll see). I also have two other trilogies planned and partially drafted as well. There will be a lot to keep you busy.

My characters are complicated. Romance is fantasy, for sure, but that doesn't mean the characters shouldn't be three-dimensional. Writing those dimensions takes time. So, what do you think? Are these characters you'd want to stay with for while?

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