Review: Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan & Suprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie

The two books that I’m blogging about tonight are on the surface completely different. One is a modern day cozy mystery, the other a historical romance. And yet here we are. I always said I was a little ecclectic, so now is when we put it to the test.

Please note: Both books were provided as ARCs from Kensington Books. Both are the second books in a series, but you don’t need to read the first books to get into them.

I was excited about Scrapped by Mollie Cox Bryan, I really enjoyed the first book, Scrapbook of Secrets. This one… I enjoyed the novel, but I’m not sure about where the author is taking a few of the characters. By the end of the book, Annie seems to be headed for some no-no action with Detective Bryant, and Vera is embroiled in a no strings relationship that quite frankly, I just don’t get. They’re still great friends, the mystery moves right along… But I’m not sure I’m going to follow on the next book. The friendships in the novel are still solid, Annie’s involvement in the mystery is a little more believable… overall, it was a good book. My trepidation is a personal thing.

Surprising Lord Jack is the historical romance, and it has all of the conventions that you would expect. But what you don’t really expect is for the heroine, Frances, to be quite as headstrong and as determined as she is. I liked her fire, her spunk. Even though she is perfect for Lord Jack, and you’re rooting for the two of them… You almost wish that they had been in a time/place when she wouldn’t have to marry to save her reputation. However, this one was exactly the way I like them: fast, funny with a strong heroine who isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. It is the perfect building block from the previous novel… but I think I actually like this one a bit more 🙂

So, two stand alone sequels to two very different novels. As readers, I want you all to go out and buy more books. But as a writer, I have to ask…Why is one so much more successful than the other? It’s not genre: even though they are in different genres, both are pretty much what I call bubblegum. Great to read, enjoy, breeze through an afternoon.

I think the main thing is that one (Surprising Lord Jack), takes on 2 different characters, with other characters making a reappearance. The other one (Scrapped) revolves around a group of friends, and the focus has remained on the same characters. This makes it harder for an author, because you not only have to bring your loyal readers along with you— you need to make sure that the characters have some kind of growth and change.

You just have to be careful to keep your readers with the characters as they do it.

For me… I think as a writer I prefer the first way. I’ve tried writing a sequel to one of my (unpublished) novels, and while I love the character… I think I’d have to just forget that I had ever written that first novel. Use it as back story. How about you?

If you have written a series— how do you handle it? If you’re a reader– which way do you prefer? All the same characters with a few new ones thrown in? Or new main characters, with your favorites from stories past making appearances?

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