This week, Tara’s joined by A.L. Brooks (Never Too Late for Heroes), a self-confessed “bit of a geek” who has created a Grand Classification for Romance Series (GCRS). Is your favourite series a pure, shared universe (which sub-divides further into closely and loosely shared universes) or an evolving universe series? Get comfortable — unless you’re stuck in your lesbian cave, in which case come on and join us — and find out!
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Transcript for Today’s Show
Please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.
hi I’m Tara and welcome to Les Do Books this week I’m excited because author al Brooks is back she is the author of seven lesbian romance is going pretty damn great erotic book the latest is a super hero of romance called never too late for Heroes all of her books are everywhere from illustration welcome Angela hello so this podcast idea actually came from you do you want to lay out for listeners what we’re gonna be talking about today and where that idea came from yes I do I’m very excited about this so today we are talking about romance series unless fake it came about for two reasons one I was having a reread of a certain series that I’ll be talking about shortly and was thinking god I love this series and secondly I was writing a romance myself that I realized because it was based on it’s a secondary character from one of my previous novels is now getting a book of her own and I thought all does that mean I’m writing a series and I thought I don’t know that it is because she’s not she’s a secondary character from book 1 but she’s now getting her own story and it’s going in a whole different track from where the first book went so does that still count as a series don’t think it does not sure so then I started thinking about what actually makes a series so I came from a mainstream background in books my first job when I left school was working a mainstream bookshop and I knew then that there was series but they always seem to be crime or sci-fi fantasy series I didn’t know of any back then romance series in the mainstream probably there are some I just never saw them on sale in our shop and when I came to Les Vic I realized that it was the same thing there was lots of crime series you’ve got lots of detectives that have like 16 books in a series and lots of sci-fi fantasy series but then discovering that there was almost also romance series was like wow this is cool you can get a series of romance characters as well yeah this is just like icing on the cake as far as I was concerned so then because I’m a little bit of a geek and I like classifying things and organizing things the more I thought about this podcast the more I came up with a classification system for romance series someone might have already done this and if they have great but this is what I’ve come up with are you ready for my grand system I am so ready lay it on me okay first up you have a pure series okay what I call a pure series this is where it’s the same two main characters in every book of the series the whole series is just about them – yeah yeah and I’ve got one of those to talk about shortly so do i hey hey perfect the second one is a shared universe okay so this is where all the characters in the series know each other but that’s further split into a closely shared universe where it’s the same set of characters in all the books yeah and I’ll be talking about one of those or what I call a loosely shared universe where each book features different main characters but the main characters from the other books all make a brief appearance because they all inhabit the same world and one of the best example I can think of that is J’s Hollywood series yeah so the main characters in book 1 pop up as minor characters in book 2 and again book 3 and but they all intermix but only very very slightly just because they happen to share the same acting world yeah yeah there’s also a type of series I think that’s called an evolving universe where the universe stays static but the characters that were in the first couple of books take a backseat as the series evolves and more characters are added and they take over as the main characters best example I can think of here is french-kissing by harper bliss so you end up by book 4 where your main characters are a whole new set of characters that weren’t in book 1 at all yeah and the main characters book 1 have really faded into the background they’re still there but they’re not the focus of the story anymore yeah it’s really only Dominique and staff that are kind of the lynchpin between the first set yeah and the following set which you kind of need because another following said it’s the people working for Dominique yeah interesting I like this yeah education system I had such fun thinking about it I thought oh my god I’m such a geek people are just gonna be listening to this going what is she on they might get excited now they might want to go through all the series that they’ve read and yet figure out which is which because I I think that’s gonna be a spreadsheet series that kind of crossover between them although were yep yep all right all right so what is your first series okay so my first series is what I call a pure one where it’s the same characters all the way through the series and it’s the shaken series by Keiji McGregor which I read earlier this year and I absolutely loved it there are four books in the series which again is a little bit unusual because people often do a trilogy you know three books three and out you know this one’s got four they’re all focused on Anna and Lily and they meet in book one funnily enough which is called without warning when they get caught up together in an earthquake in LA being trapped and then rescued forms a bond between them that neither of them can quiet define which obviously it sounds perfectly plausible they talk a lot as a way to quell their fears of never being found lily is openly gay and it is straight but she’s married to a guy who she knows isn’t right for her they get rescued when they accidentally meet again months later they go out for dinner to catch up and soon a friendship forms that becomes so much more dot-dot-dot what I absolutely loved about this series was how completely believable the development of their story was over the four books yeah so book one could have just been a standalone it you could have left it at the end job done everybody’s happy lovely jubbly yeah but I loved how McGregor went well yeah but what would happen next you know based on how they met and how their romance then developed in book one where would they go as a couple and she then gave them some brilliant storylines in the following three books that were completely authentic unbelievable at no point did I think yeah she’s just really stretching it out here you know it’s not not at all I mean she covered some really hard subjects in book three I think it is one of the characters has a mental illness that’s not often discussed in public nevermind in less Vic and I thought that was really brave to go down that route because it ended up as a much darker book to the others and I thought that was brilliant that she didn’t shy away from that and it’s just the final book just wraps it all up in a lovely way that just leaves you completely satisfied with the story at least – you feel like you’ve really lived with them through the I think it must cover about maybe ten years the cot remember I could have got that wrong but you just really you get you really feel like you’ve been on their journey you know you get to the end and you just close that last page and like ah I was so good what I’m so happy yeah yeah it just really sucked me in I mean I read all four books in the space of about a week I think when I was on holiday cuz it didn’t occur to me – yeah it didn’t occur to me to not read the next book as soon as I’d finished the previous one it was like no I have to find out what happens next what’s gonna happen you know and that’s quality writing isn’t it when you get sucked in like that and you just want to keep reading so highly recommend that one highly recommend it okay I haven’t read it yet and now you’re making me want to sorry not sorry so what’s your first pick of series so my first pick is the honor series by Radcliffe and when you ask people what’s your favorite Radcliffe series that turns into an incredibly lively discussion because for some people you know the Provincetown series is there a ride-or-die and it’s excellent absolutely I read the whole thing of that and I loved that I loved her medical romances I loved her [Music] what else was I gonna say oh I was at and then I realized I ran out of series that I’ve read before I have not read her paranormal series okay what are they like werewolves or something I don’t know I haven’t read them and I haven’t read her justice series because that sounds a little too like Law & Order as for you for me okay nieces I read above all honor very early which is the first book in the series it was one of the first less Vic books I ever read so I talked about this a lot of times I found less Vic because of Jezebel they they re posted a list on autostrada that was like the ten lesbian romances on my kindle right now that somebody did okay and yeah and playing the role of herself was the first one I read and I think a and then I think above all honor was the second book I read and if it wasn’t the second it was definitely the third and it just sucked me in and even at that point I’m trying to think how many years ago it was probably eight years ago there were a bunch of books out at that point so I just read like all of them so the I’m gonna read the blurb for the first one before I do anything else with this so the so the blurb is above all honor introduces single minded Secret Service agent Cameron Roberts and the woman she is sworn to protect Blaire Powell the daughter of the President of the United States Cam’s duty is her life and the only thing that keeps him from self-destructing under the unbearable weight of her own deep personal tragedy however she hadn’t counted on the fact that her reluctant protectee will do anything in her power to escape the watchful eyes of her protectors including seducing the agent in charge both women struggle with long hidden secrets and dark passions as they are forced to confront their growing attraction amidst the escalating danger drawing ever closer to Blair from the dark shadows of Rough Trade bars in Greenwich Village to the elite galleries of Soho each must balance duty with desire and ultimately choose between love and honor there are now 11 books in the series 11 it is a hefty can I just say I’ve never read it I feel like I can’t even admit that in public I have to turn in my let’s pick reading card or something because I’ve never even read book 1 so you just outed yourself I don’t know that I’ve come across anyone who’s lukewarm about it they either love it or they hate it and I mean for me obviously I love it and yeah I wouldn’t say that this is a pure romance series it’s more of a romantic suspense or intrigue I’m not actually sure what’s the difference between those two but it’s because there are just constant threats to Blair or her father’s life because you know he’s the president and she’s his daughter and even throughout the series it goes through like 9/11 happens and then there are other like direct attempts to take one or both of them out and you know it covers a lot a lot of ground in terms of like the the the political landscape but also just the character growth because you know Blair is sort of this wild child she lost her mother when she was very young she just wants to be able to paint and she doesn’t you know give a about the prestige of being the president’s daughter she just wants to be on the live her life which is why you know she goes to those bars in Greenwich Village and you know was having an ottoman sex and whatever and then she doesn’t want she doesn’t want a detail she doesn’t want like a Secret Service detail watching over her she just wants to be able to live her life yeah while cam I can’t remember what her trauma is in anyway for the three people including you who haven’t read it wait not to spoil it but you know cam does have kind of a traumatic past and she is really focused on her job but she has this interesting thing going on where there’s like a regular escort that she has kind of for that release from the everyday life uh-huh and you know that stops when she falls in love of course and so we go from like those two places where they start to eventually way later in this series they get married they’re very they’re this very like settled little passionate like this really great couple and what happens with the series is I think it’s the first few books it’s been a long time since I’ve read those first I don’t know eight but the first book should really do focus just on them when you start having secondary romances with the people around them okay five out the a handful of books it’s still them but then we get equal weight of other couples getting together around them okay so I think it’s like the most lesbian orbit around a president we can only dream yes that’s right so and it also actually the most recent book which is great on audio I haven’t listened to all of them but I think addict Raiden does a number of them cure grace does the latest one cost of Honor and I know for some people it’s hard to switch narrators but I thought carries did a fabulous job and that one even has crossover characters from the Justice series and so while I would say you could read like you could read the latest as a standalone if you wanted to I think it’s better if you read your way through but even like if you haven’t read the justice series it doesn’t matter because I haven’t and I still kind of understood everyone’s role in it yeah it’s interesting to see they had a really kind of prominent part to play in this book so I don’t even know if that’s I don’t I don’t know if that’s a pure series it sounds like it starts off pure and then evolves so I think so yeah and at this point I think my only complaint about the series is that I got really really invested in one of the secondary couples and it’s Blair’s best friend and the person that she ends up with and I don’t want to say more about that person’s role because it just like it blew my mind the first time I read it and they just haven’t been back in the last handful of books and so like every book I’m like I didn’t are Dan and Valerie coming back if you’re listening no Laura has a request I have a request oh my god like I would happily read a series of books just about those two characters they are so so good and what was funny was that in prepping for this podcast I went and I was looking at I was trying to like refresh my memory about some of the some of the side romances and so I was looking at other people’s Goodreads reviews because apparently I was useless on Goodreads it did not provide myself that information and this is back before I was doing professional reviewing it was so funny to see how many other people who were like but what about Diana Valerie these books so yes Radcliffe you’re listening it feels weird making this pitch but please write more Diana Valerie does sound like I need to read at least the first two or three of this series and see how I feel cuz I know my girlfriend’s read I think she’s read the first seven alright and she said you know you really ought to read them they are kind of like a rite of passage of you know less Vic so yeah I really should okay well I mean since you got me feeling like I should read about Katy McGregor that’s only fair face fair but yeah just to pick up on a point that you said that that’s about falling in love with like secondary characters in books and then wanting them to have their own stories that happens to me so many times like especially in a series where that character is this in the series all the way through but they’re never really get their own story you get sometimes it gets the end of a series I’m like ah but can you just know I write a series about them because I really liked them and I want to know what happens to them so yeah I get that feeling I know the one so I will sometimes post in my reviews if there’s a character that really stands out for me and like please please write them a book please dear author thank you and occasionally it happens and I feel like that yes use of my reviewer privilege well I had a moment of that recently because I was already right in this book that features it features Carmen from write your own script she’s Tamsin’s agent in write your own script so Carmen’s getting her own book and it was so funny because someone had just a reviewer had just written read write your own script and they emailed me and said is there any way you could write a book about Carmen because I really love that character and I really want to hear her story and I was like [Laughter] and they were so happy I got like this gushing response got oh my god I can’t wait no that’s cool so Amy Amy Herman Paul and I reviewed no wait to be our viewer together we talked about Jeannie Levin’s book embracing the dawn on this podcast probably a few years ago and we both agreed that we loved the book of course to start but we love these two side characters so you’re like what if they got together can you please write their story please please get these characters together interested doing it and I think this book is coming out this year so I oh my god I’ve just been dying for it for like more than two years now Regis for the win right yeah thank you for being an awesome listen and supporting tilt the channel that brings you all the podcasts you want to hear Erin listening to talked find more podcasts on the lesbian talk show calm okay what is your other series that you want to talk about okay so my other one is a shared universe series a closely shared one according to my speak II system and it’s Melissa Braden Soho loft series which I think most of us will agree is just sublime yes never met anybody who didn’t like it so I wouldn’t trust them after you did exactly the four women who run the savvy advertising agency in New York have been friends since college this is me doing a blurb this is not the official globe this is my take on it they’re now in their late twenties and doing well for themselves they’re all single when we first meet them all focusing on their careers and maybe having a little fun with someone now and then yeah Mallory Brooklyn Samantha and Hunter all get their own romances over the three books of this series and they all play significant roles in the lives of each other throughout the series but coin is Brooklyn’s storybook to a Samantha and Hunter and the final book is Malory’s I know be still my beating heart I loved this series not just because of the romance but mainly because I loved how braid and made sure the friendships between the four women played just as an important role as the romances yeah it’s one of the things that I love to read I love reading stuff where women are supporting each other yeah women aren’t ditching each other as soon as they meet the love of their life and you know disappear into a lesbian cave somewhere where they just got something I mean I love the romances in these books they’re all gorgeous I absolutely love them I love how different they are I love different the variety that she brought into the romances and how they started evolved developed whatever you want to call it I love just three words that’s my favorite one in the whole book a whole series but I just love that all through the book those four women are just there for each other all the time you’ve got your midnight chocolates you’ve got everybody dropping everything as soon as one of them is having a crisis I just think that’s that’s the kind of friendships that you want in your life and I love that Melissa braid and kind of recognizes that and puts it into that series because I think I mean the other one that kind of springs to mind is the puppy love series by Georgia beers that’s one of my honorable mentions towards the end as a podcast simpler thing you’ve got the characters they’re like it’s almost like a family yeah they’ve got they’ve Jessica and Katherine’s support each other in that series the way that Brooklyn’s always there for Sammy Sammy’s there for hunter Mallory’s there for everybody you know it’s I I diss love that that into interweaving of their friendship with the romances it just gave it so much more depth than if it had just been three romance books after you know what I mean I do know what you mean I think my problem was popular love and I think this every time I think about the series is that at least the first book maybe the first two they ended they needed like and I needed another chapter yeah I needed a little more certainty that this couple was going to make it and it was lucky for me that having further books showed me yes all together yeah I see what you’re saying if they weren’t those books you’d have been thinking ooh okay I need an epilogue or yes something yeah yeah exactly whereas with I mean and it they were great otherwise I very much enjoyed all three books so this isn’t like yeah Georgia beers I just think occasionally her books do end like that where it almost feels more like a happy for now I’m not positive that it’s a forever where is say at the end of kiss the girl which is my favorite of the Soho loft series and just what kind of a brat romances yeah oh my god Jessica Lennox is probably my like all-time let’s refresh an amazing first kiss and like ever anyway but I got to the end of that book and there was no uncertainty for me about whether they were going to make it okay they were definitely going to make it so that’s interesting cuz I never felt that about the ending of the puppy loved ones I had that same feeling I know you’re saying it was a happy for now but I felt like if it’s cuz I’m an eternal optimist that I always am but I just I got the end of each book was like yep they’re settled done lovely but yeah I get what you say I kind of get what you’re saying but that isn’t it funny how reading is so subjective we we can all read the same book and take so many different things away from it then as I said at the beginning of this little spiel nobody I’ve met didn’t like the Soho loft series I mean I think they’re they’re just gonna they’re just never going to age those three books no okay but look at this box what about her seven short series have see I have and they didn’t grab me as much as Soho loft and I can’t even tell you why can’t tell you why I felt like the first book it dependent it depended on the book for me in that series I adored the first book eyes like those some of that was the chemistry some of it was just the fact that like I love the idea of like a showrunner and a writer on a TV show getting that coming yes Zachary yep but also it was the seeing a character with anxiety and how it can like with her day-to-day as someone so has anxiety that worked really well for me yeah and I quite liked Ellen Gia’s book the surfing one yep now you’re talking about them I feel the same for you I felt a book one was really good it look to was good I think the third one was the one that I like don’t know Oh was that no so book to his autumns book so that’s the the woman who I think it’s aa okay and not that what I felt like was okay but I didn’t really care as much with Ottomans oh god is a kate is her partner okay I think so a woman yeah like it was it was good but I didn’t connect as much with them mmm and then the last one I don’t know it was interesting the last two I enjoyed them but like eyes like those for me was the one that just took it like I just yeah but again it had the same like it had the same really good friendship writing yeah which I appreciated and I liked the Venice Beach setting and then finally getting to go I got to actually go to Venice Beach early last year so getting to think about like all of them yeah hanging out there worked really well for me yeah I’ve actually been to Venice Beach myself a year before so actually when I was reading I was like oh yeah I can picture where this is this is kind of cool yeah because there’s not that many places in America I’ve been so you know very kind of them to say yeah thanks for that Melissa yeah yeah there is I think to like especially if you read so Olaf like they’re both excellent series but like I think that I think so Olaf was the first time seeing a series quite like that yes same for me and I think that kind of sticks with you doesn’t it yeah like if it feels like lightning in a bottle and so seven shores is similar and still works beautifully but it doesn’t there isn’t that surprise yes experience something like that yes maybe that’s it maybe she spoiled us Soho loft spoiled us for anything else that she did in terms of a series right absolutely so that feels like a good segue because speaking of things that surprised me mmm-hmm last year I listen to what is my last pick and it is the pinecone romance series which when I heard about it I thought that’s interesting I didn’t quite understand what they were doing but it was really ambitious and I think pays off quite well it follows the three best friends clay Tripp and grace that they all find love it’s all following the same timeline and all three books are written by different authors this blows my mind right yeah so Missouri Vaughn wrote take my hand D Jackson Lee wrote take a chance and VK Powell wrote take your time and I’m not going to actually share a blurb for any of these because I’d have to share all three of them yeah but the series basically works like each stories is standalone but they also work together to create a single narrative really beautifully so it’s a small-town romance that’s set in pinecone Georgia and the first book opens with River who is clays love interest she’s an art dealer from New York City and she’s come to town because her aunt’s has passed away and she has to deal with like her home and her stuff and her aunt ran the local little art gallery there but she ends up crashing her car into the local salon and when I read that I immediately pictured Truvy’s shop from steel magnolias yeah yeah and then everything just unfolds in there so grace shows up on the scene because she’s one of the local police officers trip shows that because she’s not because she’s a veterinarian but she is a veterinarian and she tries to play doctor with River because you know beautiful blonde yep the trip doesn’t get the girl because it’s actually clay who is the grumpy tow truck driver who also happens to be an artist then she’s the one that gets the girl uh-huh and then in the next book trips love interest is actually the new police officer in town working with grace and that’s Jamie Jamie was also trips best friend in college and they had kind of each broken each other’s heart through sort of a misunderstanding type situation they haven’t seen each other in like a decade and then grace falls in love with Danny who’s the new veterinarian in town working with Tripp so it’s all very light there all of you crossing over and yeah yeah okay and Danny is used to like working at zoos she doesn’t really want to make ties in town because she doesn’t plan on sticking around in pinecone for a very long time so it’s quirky and there’s like silly things like there’s this little police dog who has a bad gas situation and they’re like just as many nosy people as you would expect to find in a quirky yeah yeah but I found it really impressive that not only did they keep the time line straight across all three books so that everything is unfolding in parallel but the hoenn actually tracks across all three of the books – which again like how do you keep how do you keep the tone on track yeah with three different authors and so she’s me I listen to all of these and the audiobooks were quite good but the thing that I loved was that as I was listening to the second book I got more perspective and depth on that first book and what was happening there because I got what was going on from Tripps perspective and Jamie’s perspective and then the third book the same thing happened but all over again and they don’t they don’t all start at exactly the same point like I think they stagger a little bit or they the endings go past a little bit so you have to see clay and River a little more established we get to see Tripp and Jamie a little more established but it just kind of blew me away so by the time I got to the end of the third book I was so impressed at how it just works as an experience this just sounds so clever I’m just sitting here in awe of three authors pooling their talents that way and presumably a great editing team as well because you’d need to keep everything on track with the editing team we’re making sure that the timelines match making sure the secondary characters don’t lose their voices from one to the books I mean that’s that’s that’s the one thing I’m thinking always all those secondary characters it’s it’s different I’d imagine if you work in on collaboration and as an author you’re said your character is this you write this character yeah and I’m gonna write this character I can get that that totally works but then you say yes but we’re both writing this character because this character it’s that’s clever really man I have to imagine as they’re writing to say oh I want this character to do this at this point is that message yes Tory yeah I can’t like medication would be key Yeah right so I really want to read that that sounds amazing and honestly like it’s I got to the end of the first book and I was like oh that’s pretty good but it but it was the reading them in sequence mm-hmm and that was when like my mind was blown so definitely if you’re gonna read it read all three yeah sounds like it cool yeah I’ve got a few more so I’ve already talked about Georgia Bay’s puppy love series RJ Nolan’s la Metro series again shared universe so they’re all based around that hospital but it’s different characters in the three books I loved the first one I’ve read that I don’t know how many times but when she brought out wounded Souls was it two years ago now I think the third one I just thought that was brilliant just again covering a subject that should be taboo and wasn’t you know and it was handled so brilliantly Claire Lydon who’s done two series now because she’s done the all I want series which is a pure series because it’s always about Tori and Holly all the way through and the London series which is like a shared universe because there’s different main characters in each book but there’s cameos from other characters from the other books in the series I think she’s just done the sixth one of that now wasn’t she six or seven Jericho series by Anne McMahon oh man I know see I could talk about that again because I talked about that on another podcast with you but I mean that is like that’s a top pick for a series and that’s that’s I think that’s kind of an evolving one isn’t it because it involves genre I mean that yeah with that series I have never seen a series shift genre after the or because it goes from that first book is very much a romance yeah and the other two books are very much not romances but you still get everything that’s satisfying about Maddie and Sid is yellow there as the kind of core of it and then everything else around it just develops and evolves and adds layers and layers and layers I know yeah I know and I’ve already briefly mentioned J’s Hollywood series which I think starts with departure from the script then goes to damage control then just physical I think that’s the order isn’t it and again hats off to Jay for covering a serious subject in book three with just physical talking about MS and yet your life with MS and weaving that into a romance so I just thought that was brilliant damage control is one of my all-time favorite mystics I love that book yeah I know and you don’t mind it’s like this even the first time I read it I was never a point going Oh will you just get together come on it was just I just enjoyed the journey that slow journey so much you know then finally get into that point and then when they did it like conversations make me want to go back and Jericho and maybe even the first honor book Angela where can people find you online if they want to connect with you I’m on Twitter and Facebook on Twitter I’m a Oh Brooks writer one on Facebook I am a Oh Brooks writer I have a website a Oprah’s Reuter calm and if you want something a little bit different you can find me on Instagram as Angela Brooks underscore 15 where I don’t really do much about my writing but I do stuff about my new life in Germany and how I’m settling into living into a new country and a new culture and just having some fun with that so thank you thank you thank you this is I was so hoping you would be up for this idea and yes you were I’m Tara and you’ve been listening to Les Deux books you can email me tarah at the lesbian recom with your questions or comments if you’re an author who’s interested in joining me on the show to talk about the less fake you love are the trends that have you interested please let me know if you’ve enjoyed this episode please check out the show notes where you’ll find a patreon link for tilt or visit patreon.com slash the lesbian talk show our patrons get exclusive content like bonus podcasts that no one else gets access to find this and many other great shows all you need to do is search for tilt spelled TLT on iTunes Parveen stitcher or Spotify okay we’re gonna cut this little yawn out the beauties of recording these things