The first book you love in a genre is always the standard bearer; it’s “the book” by which you judge all the others. So, if you were passionately enthralled with Edward, every vampire book you read will always be compared to the first experience you with Twilight. This is also true with every other genre of romance. If Fifty Shades was your introduction to erotica, you’re always looking for the next Christian. I’m fortunate to have found a book in most romance subgenres that knocked me off my feet and caused me to binge on that subgenre for a while.
It’s important to note that subgenres wax and wane in popularity: My advice for authors is to do what you love, do your best, and forget the rest. Don’t chase after what’s hot today, since it won’t help you produce that visceral story that will become someone’s most-loved book.
Our book club this week discussed the first book they loved in a genre and how they always compare that book, perhaps unconsciously, to similar ones. The person who started reading again with Twilight still has fond memories of Edward and Bella, even though she’s said she’s read and enjoyed other vampire books that were better written since then. She remembers to this day the awe she felt as she consumed the books, reading all three in a row. The magic we readers feel as we discover a book that touches us is truly miraculous. And we’re always trying to find that feeling again. It’s a common goal all readers share, even if we don’t share love for the same book or genre.
Really, it’s impossible to answer questions like, “are New Adult books good?” or “is Paranormal Romance dying?” or believe statements like “no one reads historicals.” Especially for someone like me, who’s constantly search for the next Regency or Medieval romance to whisk me away to a land without much indoor plumbing. Hey, no judging: I like good a good historical with a swash buckling hero, a feisty heroine and a bodice ready to be torn. Although I never understood this inclination, since a woman of this time wouldn’t usually have a surplus of clothing. Perhaps I’m overthinking the situation.
We must also give credit to the New Adult readers: These are young people reading, yes READING, so let’s give them the credit they deserve. They might be ready to read more romances after falling in love with a couple or one particular character who never got a break. Maybe they’re ready to try their next genre and we can entice them with our favorites. A reader is always willing to share.
Speaking of sharing, if you’ve been curious about the New Adult genre, I suggest you give Rome a try. Even though Rome (William Morrow, January 2014) is the third in Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series, I think it’s the best one yet and, for once, I advise you to start in the middle. Rome is a guy who’s been through some tough stuff: He served in Afghanistan and lost fellow soldiers there, coming home injured in body, mind and soul. He’s lost one of his natural brothers to a car accident and his once-strong family is falling apart after the release of long-buried secrets. But Rome unexpectedly finds a firecracker of a lover with her own broken dream. Cora’s not going to fall in love again; she’s been burned once and she prefers watching the people around her go through the trauma and shenanigans of finding love. Cora and Rome will just have a few hot hook ups—but then it becomes something more. Rome gave me hope and I think you should give it a try.
Or, if you're curious about Urban Fantasy, then might I suggest Jaye Wells’ new series, Prospero’s War. It’s starting out with a bang with Dirty Magic (Orbit; January 21, 2014). Wells mixes the reality of police work with the wild world of the paranormal—complete with werewolves, witches and more. It’s a combination that works well with Wells’ signature snarky wit and will keep you turning the pages. The story follows Kate Prospero, a patrol cop who uncovers some nasty business and ends up in a race to find the real bad guy, or guys. Trust me: It’s a great Urban Fantasy book to start with.
And if you’d like the opportunity to meet both Jay and Jaye, be sure to come to Adventures in Fiction in February in Dallas. It’s going to be a fun-filled day with author signings and street team meet-ups, all topped off by a masquerade ball. You won’t want to be the one who missed it and has to hear all about it from the rest of us. Really, you don’t! So stop by Adventures.FreshFiction.com and check it out.
In the meantime, what was your first love? Was it a suspense, historical, paranormal, erotic, young adult or chick-lit book? You name it: There’s always a first book in any subgenre that you’ll never forget.
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors Adventures in Fiction in February, an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.