A reader’s perspective on more time with our favourite couples
The topic of sequels or series in which we get to follow our favourite couples in their HEAs even if just as supporting characters has come up before and, yes I’m still a fan. An author once mentioned to me that in a romance once a couple has their HEA, it is very difficult to write that second or third book – how can it still be a romance? Haven’t they already had their time in the sun? Do readers really want to read about the minutiae of everyday life? Probably not all of us, but I’ve invested my time in getting to know them – it’s great to have these little reunions.
A chance to reconnect made me a very happy camper when I noticed the recent release of Ylva’s anthology After Happily Ever After. It is only in the last couple of years that I really paid much attention to short story collections or anthologies (the number of them in my library would indicate subconsciously I’ve liked them for quite a while) and some publishers have effectively used them as vehicles to raise awareness and fund-raise, celebrate holidays (Halloween, Christmas), focus on certain themes (I’m thinking erotica here) and of course give exposure to up and coming authors (GCLS Writing Academy Graduates – Written Dreams) as well as established writers. All good reasons that I heartily support – I’ve discovered many a new author reading these anthologies. Plus, I’ll often get to catch up on some of favourite couples that I might not otherwise get to read about again. Which is fun, really fun. More often than not, I end up rereading the original story and short story – a chance to rediscover some of the hidden gems in my library.
The collection of short stories that first comes to mind (actually two volumes and BEST EVER!) is Karin Kallmaker’s Frosting on the Cake (2001, 2010) and Frosting on the Cake 2: Second helpings (2010). By 2010 Kallmaker had over thirty romances and Sci-fi/Fantasy (Laura Adams) books under her belt and she covers most of them in these two collections. As an added bonus Kallmaker provides a short rundown (including addressing some reader FAQs) about each of the original novels and corresponding short stories in the last chapter of each collection. I spent a good few months revisiting Kallmaker’s backlist as I went through both collections. Dare we ask for a third helping, it’s just frosting after all? This was also about the time when I realized it really was well worth the effort to read an author’s acknowledgement or the blurbs at the beginning and/or end of their novels, a habit I continue to this day. Reading the first volume I was able to solve a mystery that had been haunting me – an unknown novel I absolutely loved, wanted to read again but couldn’t remember the author and title (it was before my kindle days so storage space was pretty much non-existent so I didn’t hang on to them). Reading these collections I discovered that in my head I had combined what was actually two novels into one – surprise that I couldn’t find it. I am still pretty chuffed that my new cherished copies of Touchwood (and Watermark were autographed by the author at a GCLS conference.
The two volumes of In Deep Waters (Volume 1: Cruising the Seas and Volume 2: Cruising the Strip) include short stories by Kallmaker and Radclyffe. Just a note that my downloaded version of volume 1 includes both 1 and 2, so be sure to check before you download volume 2 (I didn’t). Most seem to be original stories (although some were previously released) and some feature characters from my favourite novels by these two authors (including Honor and Quinn, Saxon and Jude). Who could ask for anything more? Just be warned though, one unhappy reviewer was unable to finish Cruising the Seas. Essentially she states (my translation of her French review) “…. in the end it is independent/unrelated short stories, scenes of sex, one after the other, with little or no romance.” Consider yourself warned 🙂
Since After Happily Ever After (2020) gave me the idea for this blog, I thought I’d finish with it. This anthology includes stories by Jae, Alex K. Thorne, Roslyn Sinclair, Lola Keeley, Lee Winter, Chris Zett, Cheyenne Blue, RJ Nolan and G Benson. Although some of the stories in After Happily Ever After have been previously released there are enough new stories to make a read through worthwhile even if you have already read a few of them. Some of my favourite lesfic couples of recent years get another moment in the sun. What’s not to like?